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ONCE Wins Big At WEST END EUROVISION 2013

Theatre fans, show stars and a host of celebrities last night came out in force to support the sixth annual installment of The Make A Difference Trust's firmly established carnival of camp, West End Eurovision.

TheatreMAD, one of the charity's producing brands, this year threw a star studded bash which counted Graham Norton and Marcus Brigstocke amongst the ardent musical lovers who came together to watch the casts of Billy Elliot, A CHORUS LINE, MAMMA MIA!, ONCE, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, ROCK OF AGES, SPAMALOT, TOP HAT, VIVA FOREVER AND WICKED battle it out to be crowned the evening's overall victor whilst raising money for the charity, and the comprehensive programme of help and support it offers to those suffering from HIV and AIDS in the theatrical industries.

With the support of a panel of celebrity judges including Russell Grant, Lisa Riley, Jodie Prenger and Rylan Clarke, Richard Gauntlett presided over the evening's events, helped in turn by Euro-loving guest hosts Sinitta, Christopher Biggins, Ben Richards and Gok Wan.

Fighting off fierce competition - which spanned both the decades and the continents - including Top Hat's visually stunning performance of Germany's 1979 Genghis Khan, and Spamalot's rendition of Portugal's 1981 entry Playback (which somehow concluded with Bonnie Langford performing the splits...) it was newcomers Once that stole both the points and the show.

Their first scoop was the Creative Input Award sponsored by Capezio for their realization of Dana's 1970 entry for Ireland - All Kinds of Everything.Witty, irreverent and intimate, their number boasted all the qualities that has seen the show win a haul of awards Stateside - including seven Tony Awards - and now also counts West End Eurovision's Overall Winner Title too. Boasting a rousing live Celtic conclusion, Once became the first act to ever perform their own support music live at the event.

But creative endeavour was also commended elsewhere as the audience awarded a full douze points to the cast of Phantom of the Opera who claimed the publicly voted iDent Award, sponsored by Sonic Pond.

After splits and songs, leather and lycra, it was time to gift the trophy to Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by West End Wilma. In 2013, this particular honour was jointly awarded to longstanding supporters of the charity Diana Hickman and Melissa Holston who have been on hand to shake buckets and stuff envelopes since the charities earlier incarnation, West End Cares. Together they have contributed some 40 years of voluntary assistance to the charity.

As The Make A Difference Trust's Chair, David Pendlebury commented, "It's people like Diana and Melissa that allow us as a charity to Make a Difference. They are at the very heart of what we do, the backbone of our organization."

After those words of recognition it was left to genuine Eurovision entrant Katrina of Katrina and the Waves to bring the audience to their feet with a belting performance of both the last winning Eurovision entry, Love Shine A Light and iconic 80s smash hit Walking on Sunshine as she brought the night to a close in an appropriately euphoric Eurovision style.

Chairman David Pendlebury concluded: "With this year's raised funds still being counted, we take this opportunity to thank all who made our sixth year possible. The many hours of voluntary work dedicated by our staff, the Dominion theatre and its technical staff, all our sponsors, judges, hosts, show panel and dedication of tonight's audience members. None of this is possible without you. Here's to 2014!"


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