Guest Blog: Artistic Director David Grewcock On 10 Years of WEST END BARES
On 8 April, 1992, eight of Broadway's hottest men danced nearly naked on the bar at Splash, one of Manhattan's popular gay watering holes, and Broadway Bares was born. One of those men, the creator of Broadway Bares, was the now multi-award-winning director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell.
Next year, Broadway will celebrate 30 years of this incredible life-affirming event. And so as Bares in London hits a decade of daring to bare, let's take a look back at what makes this show such a firm favourite in the theatre calendar.
In 2009, following discussions with Jerry, TheatreMAD produced its very first edition of West End Bares, under the artistic direction of Darren Carnell. Opening at Café de Paris, the show went from strength to strength and this year will celebrate 10 years of sass, class and ass!
Uniting the theatre and entertainment industry to come together and make a difference, West End Bares continues the Broadway legacy. West End Bares combines the brilliance of burlesque with the magic of the West End, and regularly features around 100 of the hottest dancers from the West End and beyond with a whole host of celebrity guests.
Following five years of sold-out shows at Café de Paris, Bares grew bigger and barer and took up residence in two of London's most beautiful theatres - the Novello and the Shaftesbury.
Playing to packed-out crowds, the show made use of the bigger stage and supersized the now legendary Rotation - dancers filled the theatres on all levels, raising more money than ever before as audiences got up close and personal, tipping the dancers with one-of-a-kind 'MAD Money' as well as cold hard cash!
Over the years, West End Bares has put a decidedly British twist on the classic strip. History was made in 2010 when the first show, Strip Britannia, burst onto the stage giving the audience a brand-new view of the Crown Jewels! This was followed in 2011 by Clothing Optional, a sensational fashion show hosted by Sheridan Smith and Gok Wan.
2012 saw London host the Olympic Games and Bares was ready at the starting gun with On Your Marks, Get Set, Strip!. Sportsmanly conduct was in full force as the cast proved their athleticism at gymnastics, table tennis, synchronised swimming and more. All the Fun of the Bare came next in 2013, with candy floss and ghost trains given the Bares treatment, and, in 2014, Café de Paris played host to a 'murder' as Nude Dunnit? invited the crowd to solve the sexiest crime the West End had ever seen.
The show looked to the skies in 2015 as, under my direction, Bares brought Take Off! to the stage, celebrating the mile highs of aviation with a champagne-soaked performance from Bianca Del Rio and a cabin full of hot crew. Knights of the Round Table were next and Excalibare brought Arthur, Guinevere and Merlin to life as they'd never been seen before.
"Strip off to see the Wizard!" was the inspiration behind 2017's Ruby Strippers, as Dorothy and friends discovered a new Home on the Bares stage. And, in 2018, after the success of Broadway's Rock Hard!, it was time for Britain to go 'pop' as Top Off The Pops brought a live band to the show, featuring 12 top artists and their sexiest tracks.
Now, to celebrate turning 10, West End Bares: STRIPPED! will take over the iconic Troxy for one incredible birthday party on Sunday, 13 October. Reuniting three of our most favourite supporters, Graham Norton, Michelle Visage and Tom Allen will host the anniversary show, which will feature the West End's hottest dancers as well as one-off performances from Kerry Ellis, Natalie McQueen, Vicky Vox and Christina Bianco.
STRIPPED! will revisit some of the most talked-about numbers from each of the previous editions of West End Bares. Think if it as "Best of" type show - with a few extra surprises thrown in for good measure! There will be cake, balloons and everything else you'd expect too.
Since Bares arrived in Britain in 2010, the show has united the theatre community in nine strip-tacular editions of this one-of-a-kind burlesque show, raising over £350,000 and featuring over 1,000 incredible performers. A lot has changed in 10 years. And a lot of things haven't. Let's build on the legacy of 10 years of nearly naked brilliance and make the next 10 even bigger - because, and Jerry says it best, "what we do together makes a difference".
Photo credit: Richard Davenport, Gary Sherwood