On 11th February 2018, MTAS headed to The Other Palace to be dazzled by West End Lounge magic. Being dedicated supporters of the Lounge shows and their selfless mission to fundraise through one of our favourite mediums of artistic expression; we knew this was not an event to miss. First thing we noticed was that the Lounge had got bigger! Upgraded to a larger space, we were excited that the events had finally got the recognition they deserved. Ticket buyers filled the foyer with a buzz and discussion of their favourite performers.
So what is West End Lounge? A stripped back cabaret performance brought to you by Shaun McCourt and Leigh Lothian. The lounge experience is a combination of west end talent, universal humour and a jazzy band. Ticket prices contribute toward a charity with this years charity of choice, Barnado’s.
‘I’m getting more homosexual as the night goes on’
This year saw talent from current, past and touring west end shows giving us a taste of their off stage personalities. The stars were brasher, cheekier, more endearing and you couldn’t help but envision dressing room banter. From Natalie Mcqueens ‘…if you couldn’t tell I’m from Essex’. To the host of the Night Ian Stroughhairs ‘I’m getting more homosexual as the night goes on’. Stroughairs humour was fabulous, camp and everything you want a cabaret night to be. Performing a duet with Jodie Steele we were able to appreciate both his talent and ability to keep an audience captivated.
I originally planned to isolate a selected bag of stand out performances but with such a high level of talent I struggle to do so. Girl group formally known as ‘Sapphire soul’ are regular lounge performers. With belts that could cure the sick they continue to deliver tight harmonies, class and overall flawless performances. They let us in with why they no longer used their group name “…we’re being sued by some [sic] 9 year old wannabe popstar… we can laugh about it now”. It would be almost rude of me to not mention that Joel Harper-Jackson (Jesus Christ Superstar) held a note longer than I had been alive. He executed this so effortlessly I honestly believed I could have gone home fed my cat and returned before he let it go. Needless to say he received an uproar of applause for this. It was a fantastic line up which included Cleve September (In The Heights, Hamilton), Cassidy Janson (Beautiful, Wicked), George Ure (Wicked, Big Fish), Danielle Hope (Wizard of Oz, Les Miserables, Grease), Emma Kingston (In The Heights, Les Miserable, Evita) and many more.
Whilst we adored the night we did question whether the lack of intimacy and spacing changed the atmosphere of the night. Lounge performances are renowned for being informal fun. There are simply no rules but to respect performers. Holding it in the theatre for the first time reintroduced theatre etiquette. Audience members were almost scared to clap unlike 2017 Lounge where we whooped unapologetically. Dare I admit I favour the informal lounge experiences. What appears to be tricky is finding a balance of holding events for larger audiences and maintaining the intimacy that has remained the lounges unique selling point for many years now.
Overall a fantastic night, highly recommended to all! Shaun, Leigh we’ll see you soon! To keep updated with Lounge news why not follow @WElounge17 on twitter!
Written by @SimplyWilly for @MTAS_Official
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