In the summer of 2020, as theatres navigated the complicated and changing regulations, briefly the drive-in became the answer to the industry’s prayers led by the UK’s first West End Musical Drive In. Now the concerts are being uploaded to Stream Theatre across the next few weeks. This second concert essentially taking place in a giant car park is not visually glamorous but unites various West End stars singing a mostly modern musical theatre programme.
The theme of this second concert is the musical Six and the 11 singers who perform around 25 numbers across this 2-hour event have all appeared in a version of the show either in London or on tour, before moving on to productions including & Juliet and Dear Evan Hansen. The show is compered by Grace Mouat who opens the show with Confident and returns between performances to gee up the crowd and introduce the next segment. Mouat tries her best to create some atmosphere and while ‘iconic’ becomes the most overused adjective in the show and while she’s constantly ‘taking it up a notch’ Mouat does her best to overcome the size of the venue and the separation of the audience.
The filming of West End Musical Drive In is a little makeshift, a couple of cameras positioned at the front of the stage and to the side. To vary the presentation, it occasionally cuts to the view of the car park with stewards in high vis jackets delivering food with the Enfield skyline visible in the background. It doesn’t make for a particularly engrossing two hours and a quick search offers up very similar footage on YouTube. It was never intended for wider distribution perhaps but for £18 including transaction fee there are no additional treatments on the film for the online viewer such as subtitles naming song, musical and singer which would be a useful guide.
But it is the singing and the performers that will attract viewers here and with many cast members from Six reunited, there is much to enjoy in the performance. Best among them is Jodie Steele whose rendition of Heaven on Their Minds from Jesus Christ Superstar is excellent, demonstrating an impressive rock range and vocal power that picks up the changes of tone, pace and emphasis in the song. Steele also sings For Good with Sophie Issacs.
Shekinah McFarlane also makes her mark with a great version of Rose’s Turn from Gypsy which suits her powerful bluesy voice while later she sings Satisfied from Hamilton. There is an emphasis on newer writing including two tunes form Bombshell, the never performed Marilyn Monroe musical from the TV show Smash here sung by Natalie May Paris who adds her own spin to Second Hand White Baby Grand and Cut Print… Moving On.
There are a couple of duets and trios but visually West End Musical Drive In doesn’t offer much variation for the home viewer although fans of Six will enjoy its Queens in concert collection, and with songs from shows as diverse as Beetlejuice, In the Heights, Beautiful and Memphis this is an eclectic programme.
Runs here until 28 February 2021