Tuesday, June 25

West End Musical Drive-In – Halloween Special

Last year, the West End parked up and staged a series of live outdoor concerts to musical theatre lovers from the comfort of their own vehicles. They are now being streamed, allowing everyone the chance to pull in for some socially distanced showtunes.

Donning a pointy hat and black cape, Shanay Holmes introduces the Halloween edition with a bewitching performance of ‘I Put a Spell on You’ from Hocus Pocus. She hosts the evening with infectious flair, firing the audience up by encouraging them to sashay in their bay and welcoming her revered fellow performers to the stage.

Though Jon Robyns’ rendition of Les Misérables hit ‘Bring Him Home’ is nothing short of sensational, receiving a well-deserved standing ovation in the form of car horns and flashing lights, his supposed Dracula outfit leaves a lot to be desired.

Robyns’ other numbers include ‘You’ll Be Back’ (Hamilton) and ‘Memphis Lives in Me’ (Memphis): these along with the majority of songs from the rest of the cast do not fit in with the spooky theme. There are missed opportunities in terms of potential inclusions, as only the first few bars of the Little Shop of Horrors intro make the cut, and musicals such as Young Frankenstein, Sweeney Todd and Ghost fail to feature at all.

Headline act Lucie Jones appears as a zombified Jenna from Waitress, complete with kitchen knife through the head. She delights fans with a selection of showstoppers from Funny Girl to Wicked, but her highlights come in the form of ‘Pulled’ (The Addams Family) and ‘Dead Mom’ (Beetlejuice). Theatre buffs will enjoy having their repertoire expanded with these slightly less mainstream songs.

With large horns sprouting from her head, devilish diva Kelly Agbowu performs a stronger ‘No Good Deed’ (Wicked) compared to her ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ (The Little Mermaid). Both times, though, her voice gets a little lost in the great outdoors.

In Rocky Horror classic ‘The Time Warp’, the cast take a break from their otherwise static stage presence to indulge in some dancing, but watching the audience doing the pelvic thrust in their spaces via a screen gives an unshakeable ‘you have to be there’ feeling to the piece.

Most disappointing are the generic, jukebox karaoke go-to’s that serve as finales. Robyns sings ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ while Agbowu offers ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’, and a rushed ‘Into the Unknown’ (Frozen 2) from Jones comes across as a cheeky album plug. Less West End Drive In, more beer garden singalong.

This is a monster mash-up of musical favourites, but it’s far from the hair-raising Halloween ball it makes out to be. https://www.westendmusicaldrivein.co.uk/

Reviewer: Scot Cunningham

Reviewed: 20th March 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★