Musical Director: Chris Hatt
A year in the making, West End Musical Christmas is a celebration of everything theatre but with a festive twist. The two-show extravaganza offers the perfect blend of well-loved show tunes alongside Christmas favourites, performed by big West End names. With audience members encouraged to sing and dance along and ‘become the cast’ the concert style show offers a wonderful alternative to the traditional Christmas panto.
The set is minimal yet festive with the band visible on stage, surrounded by decked out Christmas trees. The simple design allows for interaction between performers and band whilst also enabling dancers to make the most of what is left of the stage. Although limited to a small area, the dancers cover the space beautifully, backing up the West End leads and occasionally stealing the audience’s attention with their extravagant costumes and delicate movement (choreography, Ben Davies). Faye Young’s array of Christmas themed costumes are a highlight of the show, adding an extra layer of excitement and making each performance unique.
The show opens with one of the smallest and sweetest performers you will ever see, singing Where Are You Christmas from The Grinch and it is impossible not to melt. Supporting the star-studded cast is a chorus of young performers whose energy propels this show from the very start.
Powerhouse Shanay Holmes hosts the event, working hard to get audience members singing and dancing with the stars. Alongside her infectious enthusiasm, the audience are treated to several performances from Holmes herself. A fantastic host and even better performer, Holmes serenades the audience between acts with family favourites such as You’re A Mean One, Mr Grinch, for which she stuns in a sparkly green dress in a nod to the title character.
Fans of the musical Heathers get a special treat in this show as Jodie Steele, Teleri Hughes and Bobbie Little perform Jingle Bell Rock in the style of Mean Girls. Steele makes several appearances throughout the show, including a riff-tastic duet with the wonderful Obioma Ugoala. Not only do their voices blend together creating the most wonderful harmonies but the obvious adoration the pair have for each other is both inspiring and endearing and makes the performance that little bit more special.
Also included in the star-studded line up is Michael Xavier (not performing on the 20th) who opts for more classic Christmas numbers, complimenting his style perfectly. Idriss Kargbo is a ray of sunshine throughout the night with boundless energy as he gives full out dance routines alongside pitch perfect vocals. Rocking Robin is especially captivating with both Kargbo and his dancers, dressed up in the most vibrant costumes, making it impossible not to dance along.
The audience may be slow to engage but there is no resisting Ollie Ormson’s charm as he performs an animated and vocally flawless interpretation of What’s This? from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The lighting during this number furthers the magic of the night with beams of rainbow dancing around the stage. By this point the entire audience is on their feet, swaying along and mesmerised; Christmas spirit is no doubt in the air. As Holmes explains, it wouldn’t be a West End Musical Christmas without a number from the hit musical Wicked, from which Emma Hatton performs a mesmerising rendition of The Wizard And I. Not only this but Hatton also surprises the audience with a mash up of Frozen 1&2 favourites with such elegance and power that no Elsa fan could leave disappointed.
Closing the show, Michael Xavier switches from his classical roots to perform a favourite from the movie musical The Greatest Showman, convincing the audience that this is one show that needs to transfer to stage immediately. With the entire audience on their feet, clapping and singing along it is impossible to deny that this company truly bring the magic of Christmas to the West End. The only disappointing thing about this show is that it only has two performance dates, with the second being sold out. Those lucky enough to already have a ticket for Monday the 20th are in for a fantastic evening, with the energy likely to be heightened with the proximity to Christmas day.
Next show Monday 20 December 2021