by guest critic Susannah Martin
On Sunday, the West End’s Prince of Wales Theatre saw some of theatre’s biggest stars host and perform in the Mousetrap Theatre Projects’ Anniversary Gala, which nodded
to the 21 years that the charity has provided disadvantaged families and young people with the opportunity to experience live theatre. It’s a cause that is celebrated throughout the industry, and the night’s entertainment proved its importance for not only the recipients, but for the performers who have benefited from the scheme.
The event boasted high-calibre entertainment, kicking off with The Joe Allen Ushers Chorus, who sang two specially-written songs about the perils of their job and the importance of being yourself. It’s a healthy reminder that there is always an abundance of talent waiting in the wings. Christopher Biggins and Harriet Thorpe compered in a slightly chaotic style, but as the show rolled on, the audience seemed to forgive them and enjoy their jumbled script.
London’s Dreamgirls opened the show with a bang, with a stunning rendition of the title song from Marisha Wallace, Brennyn Lark and Asmeret Ghebremichael, who clearly secured themselves some ticket sales in the process. Other performances of note included a roof-raising medley from Mamma Mia’s Donna and the Dynamos, an amusing rendition of “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” from Opera North’s Kiss Me, Kate and a stunning ballet display by Joshua Junker of The Royal Ballet. Peppered throughout the show were also some staunch solo numbers from Tyrone Huntley, Beau Dermott and Samantha Spiro, all of whom showcased their phenomenal talents.
All the while, we were reminded exactly why this gala night was taking place, with heartfelt video messages from supporters and recipients of the charity, as well as readings of letters and comments from MTP patrons Janie Dee, Clive Rowe and Samuel West. Later in the evening a charity auction took place, with prizes including walk-on parts in Mamma Mia, tickets to The Jonathan Ross Show and hiring out an entire cinema. All were generously snapped up by those at the front of the theatre, whose purse-strings allowed for sizeable donations.
Overall, the event was a sweet tribute to the charity, whose efforts have allowed young people to fall in love with theatre, and even inspired them to pursue careers in the performing arts. Without charities such as Mousetrap Theatre Projects, doors to the world of the arts, and to the delightful performances that were showcased on Sunday night, remain firmly shut until West End producers make sincere efforts to offer affordable tickets. All in all, the night was a resounding success that promoted a life-changing charity.
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