by Sarah-Marie Maxwell
As I walk from Canon Street Station early on this gorgeous Sunday, I am hit by a wave of sound from passers by who are shouting, cheering and whistling along every street in London. It is Sunday 28th of April 2019, a day where the whole city gather together to join and support those amazing people who are running the streets of London City, for so many amazing causes.
The joy and excitement filled me with a tremendous buzz, as I too was on route to another rather big event, one of theatres biggest annual gatherings. West End Eurovision! So get your lycra, sequins and glitter at the ready, because this is a night like no other.This year the Follies company at the National Theatre were asked to take part in this great evening and it’s a night I have always wanted to be part of , so when the opportunity surfaced and our wonderful Janie Dee brought it to the cast I simply had to volunteer myself. It’s not every day a non West End shows gets to represent at the event and it is such and important one so I simply had to say YES!
During the evening each West End (cough..plus 1 non West End) compete against one another, signing original songs from the Eurovision Song Contest, to take home 4 coveted West End Eurovision trophies; Best Ident Video, Best Costume, Best Choreography and Direction – this award was decided by the four celebrity judges, Amber Davis, Bonnie Langford, Tim Vincent and the incredible Wayne Sleep OBE, watching from a box in the auditorium of the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand – Not to mention a performance from Eurovision star herself Dana International. We also had a sneak peek at our very own Eurovision entry of 2019 Michael Rice with ‘Bigger Than Us'
This event has been going since 2008 and for a truly amazing cause. MAD Trust the Make A Difference Trust supports HIV and Aids projects across the UK and parts of Africa, spreading peoples stories, raising awareness and most importantly with the £400,000+ raised since the first event in 2008. The trust provides support and care to those affected and education to each and everyone of us.
To be part of such an evening with three other incredible women from Follies, two of which are legendary leading ladies, Joanna Riding and Janie Dee, was a privilege and I won't forget it in a hurry. To do what we as performers love doing whilst raising money for a wonderful and vital cause.
Our entry for the contest was the French winner in 1977 , a sublime song called L'oiseau at l'enfant. Which our wonderfully talented Musical Director of the event Matheson made an arrangement of specifically for four part harmony, and it was stunning.The song full of poetic rhymes speaks about love and the blue bird that flies over the world and sees that it is beautiful. It was an apt choice from Janie Dee with the way things are in our planet at present. It was the most nervous I had been up to that date but once the four of us were on stage representing team Follies we all shone like our blue sparkly showgirl costumes, it was fabulous in every way. We were so astonished that we came 2nd place to such fantastic casts that grace each and every West End stage, it was nail biting close between ourselves and the reigning champions The Phantom Of The Opera but they scored victory and scooped up the West end Eurovision Trophie once again, and so well deserved too. The sound they make is just incredible, and we left with smiles on our faces because we had been apart of the night. We were there and we had a hand in making a difference.