West End Live is back – live and free!

Those who enjoy a good musical will be delighted to hear that after missing an in-person event last year, WEST END LIVE will be returning to London’s Trafalgar Square on September 18th and 19th.

As part of Westminster City Council’s Inside Out Festival and the Society of London Theatre’s #BackOnStage campaign, West End LIVE will see Trafalgar Square transformed into an open-air theatre like no other, treating thousands of theatre fans to free performances of iconic numbers from the West End’s top shows over the weekend of 18 and 19 September. 

This year’s event features the first ever West End LIVE appearances from award-winning musicals Hamilton and The Book Of Mormon, as well as an exciting roster of new shows – including The Prince Of Egypt, Disney’s Frozen, Dear Evan Hansen, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella, Back To The Future: The Musical and Pretty Woman: The Musical – alongside many established favourites.

In total, over 30 shows and acts will take to the stage for this unique two-day celebration of theatre, a joint production by Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre (SOLT).

The event also continues its partnership with Magic Radio, with an array of leading Magic presenters co-hosting the stage across the weekend, including Emma B, Tom Price, Sonali Shah and more to be announced.

Official London Theatre will be backstage throughout the weekend sharing exclusive behind-the-scenes content across their social media channels.

West End LIVE will remain free and unticketed as in previous years. To keep everyone safe, however, all attendees aged 18 and over will be asked to demonstrate their Covid status to gain entry to the event.  Please be aware of this and be prepared, which helps the stewarding teams to help you.

West End LIVE will be BSL interpreted by Sue MacLaine and Marco Nardi.

Find out more details at the West End Live 2021 website here

SELF-CARE NOTE: This event is likely to be very popular, with large crowds to negotiate. If you have any concerns about being with large crowds of people at this time, please consider your wellbeing and take whatever steps you feel necessary to help you cope. Being in a large crowd after an extended period of isolation can cause unexpected reactions, so please be kind to yourself and make sure you help yourself before helping others. If you experience any anxiety or panic, please seek help or support from a friend or the stewarding teams at the event.


“BAWDY BUT BRITISH!” Enjoy a celebration of the unique Douglas Byng

One of several big-selling compilations of the works of Douglas Byng

When “Doris, the Goddess of Wind” was featured by Alan Bennett in his hit play THE HABIT OF ART, it reminded audiences of one the long- lost saucy cabaret performers of an earlier time. The writer and original performer of this piece was the popular cabaret, musical and revue star Douglas Byng, usually appearing in drag as one of his gallery of characters encapsulated in song. Naughty, bawdy, saucy, camp, risqué, outrageous – Byng was all of these, and more. Which is why he retained his affectionate popularity with audiences over a career spanning six decades.

This Thursday, 16th September, The British Music Hall Society hosts an evening telling Byng’s life story, presented by Richard Norman and Keith Fawkes, which is amply illustrated with recordings of the master at work, both on film and on disc. Byng’s debonair drag appearances in revue were described by Noel Coward as “the most refined vulgarity in London”. His records of his own saucy songs sold millions, and he was Britain’s biggest cabaret star for many years in the 20s and 30s.

His full name was Douglas Coy Byng, but “Coy” was the one thing Byng was definitely not. An openly gay performer at a time when this was very much not the norm, Byng’s long career was helped by his versatility in adapting to fluctuating trends after the cabaret scene changed during and after world war two; he found a home in pantomime for thirty years, while he could still be found performing his speciality routines in his eighties.

Now unjustly forgotten, Douglas Byng deserves this celebration and also a renewed recognition as one of the pioneers of LGBT visibility, as well as being a much-loved and very entertaining “turn” for well over 60 years.

DOUGLAS BYNG is an in-person event, presented by the British Music Hall Society at the Water Rats Pub/Theatre venue in London. Find details and tickets here