We headed down to the Shaftesbury Theatre on Sunday night to watch West End Eurovision. Based on the yearly event that is Eurovision and let’s face it who doesn’t love that!

We had 8 shows from the West End come together and perform against each other singing a choice of past Eurovision hits. The shows that took part this year were Hamilton, Young Frankenstein, 42nd Street, Kinky Boots, The Phantom of the Opera, Dreamgirls, Mamma Mia and Aladdin all competing to be added to the previous list of winners that graced the prized trophy such as Dirty Dancing 2010, Legally Blonde 2011, Sweeney Todd 2012,Once 2013, Les Mis 2014 and Mamma Mia twice winning previously also (although they had to share with Les Mis for one of those)

The excitement had been building towards this event as it as the first time in four years that this event was being held after a break (too long if you ask me now).

So the set up was that each show had 2 judges each of whom voted and allocated points from 2 to 12 to their favourite and not so favourite acts whilst not being able to vote for themselves. We the audience then got to text vote also just like the public phone vote in the real Eurovision and finally, we had three guest judges – Arlene Phillips, John Partridge and comedian Tom Allen. All led by our host for the evening in a Richard Gauntlett.

Hamilton was first up and performed ‘cliche love song’ a song by Denmark in 2014 which finished 9th. Now Hamilton has swept the boards in awards recently so was this trophy for the taking…well it was a good and well-polished performance which i personally thought was good, but as the show went on was probably the safest performance of them all.

Young Frankenstein came second and upped the ante by performing Swedens ‘Take me to your heaven’. This song won Eurovision so they a good foundation to build on for this show and gave it a good go with their religious-themed choreography. Up next was 42nd Street ‘Boom bang a bang’ their song of choice from 1969 originally sang by the legend and actual winner of Eurovision with it Lulu. As creative as the performance was with its carnival feel and dress up we were soon cheering when Lulu herself appeared out of nowhere to cameo. Kinky Boots soldiered on and gave us ‘Warrior’ a more intense song than the others, Kinky represented well the exact thing they and the show represent.

The most Eurovision esque performance came from eventual winners Phantom of the Opera, Imitating the now famous Conchita Wurst another winner of Eurovision famed for her beard they hit the nail on the head with costume design. A brief interval and then we returned to our seats to see Dreamgirls give their rendition of the UK Entry by Bucksfizz  ‘Making your mind up’, Mamma Mia sticking to their Swedish roots by singing ‘Undo’ by  Sanna Nielsen and Aladdin saw us out with ‘Drama Queen‘.

We all then had time to text our votes in, yes I voted for Phantom! Whilst votes were being sent and counted we had our judges give their verdicts and also two stunning performances coming from Lucie Jones and SueRie, Lucie a West End Star and the UK’s entry in 2017 – Lucie smashed it and with a performance like she gave you wonder how she didn’t win.

So if we wonder why Lucie didn’t we should then hope SuRie our entry for this year in 2018 goes onto better with her banger of a song ‘Storm’ reflected in her performance also she should be going down a storm in this year’s event.

As mentioned earlier The Phantom of the Opera took the trophy outright.

The final result was:

1. The Phantom of the Opera – 106 votes

2. Dreamgirls – 70 votes

3. Aladdin – 60 votes

4. Young Frankenstein – 50 votes

5. 42nd Streeet – 42 votes

6. Kinky Boots – 38 votes

7. Mamma Mia – 32 votes

8. Hamilton – 24 votes

This was a fun night with cast coming together across the west end for this event, friends, family and theatre lovers all in one place, we heard a great display of singing from all the cast involved and choreography that dazzled. Long may it continue and we look forward to the event returning next year.

Of course, this was a fantastic night but underlying was the reason why everyone was in attendance and that was for the Make a difference Trust. Graham Norton also appeared to recognise and explain why this was such an important part of raising awareness and the benefits of the trust.

As a direct response, The Make A Difference Trust (trading as TheatreMAD) was founded in 2008, establishing the first official stand-alone Charity to coordinate the theatre community’s fundraising and grant making for HIV and AIDS. In recognition of the theatre industry’s long-term fundraising efforts, MAD set up The Make A Difference Trust Hardship Fund to support people in the theatre industry affected by long-term chronic illness. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.

MAD Trust’s philosophy is all about the community making a difference: namely, the theatre community, working together, using theirs kills and talents, to help other communities living with, or affected by HIV and AIDS.

Legendary charity production West End Eurovision was staged at the Shaftesbury Theatre for the first time in four years and was a sold-out storming success.
Melanie Tranter, chair of the Make A Difference Trust said: ”We are delighted to welcome back West End Eurovision and look forward to it becoming one of our annual fundraisers. Last night’s event was a testament to the generosity of the amazing people in the theatre community coming together to support the Trust. The funds raised will help us to continue our work supporting those living with of affected by HIV and AIDS. Congratulations to The Phantom of the Opera for a well-deserved win. We all look forward to them defending the trophy next year.”

Since the first West End Eurovision contest was staged in 2008, the event has raised thousands to support the MAD Trust. The Trust works with its partners to support HIV and AIDS projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa building awareness and providing care support and education.

Check out other events organised by the MAD Trust within the theatre community here