…and in Leighton Buzzard of all places!!

It is not often that a night like this comes to a town like Leighton Buzzard but what a night it turned out to be.

Let’s face it, often when we turn out to a local show on a Sunday night, expectations are reasonably low and we are frequently there to support a family member in the cast, the kids, or a worthwhile cause.

Ticking a couple of the boxes above and after a busy week, I, somewhat reluctantly left the comfort of my couch and dragging a more reluctant fiance behind me we arrived at The Recreation Rooms, Mentmore Road, Leighton Buzzard.

How wrong could my expectations have been when we were treated to voice, after incredible voice of leading singers from the West End delivering favourites from The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Matilda and Les Miserables to name a few.

There were so many stand out moments, as one audience member said

I feel so privileged to have seen this

The evening was the produced by Simon Shorten, himself a West End star, to benefit a charity close to his heart, Mind, who provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.

It is difficult to pick out highlights from such an amazing cast but a goosebump moment was Vincent Pirillo’s performance of Till I hear You Sing from Love Never Dies. Local lady, Soprano, Zoe Curlett, also amused the audience whilst demonstrating her incredible vocal skills with Glitter and Be Gay from Candide.

The whole evening was spell-binding and I heard many people saying that they felt they had witnessed something very special in such an intimate setting.

A huge amount of credit needs to be given to the students of Musical Theatre High (MTH) who performed with the stars on the night, Ella Robinson and Spencer Digby both gave confident and accomplished performances and are a credit to MTH. More credit needs to go to The Recreation Rooms for providing the free space for this incredible event to go ahead

The evening raised over £2000 and along with previous efforts brings Simon’s total so far to £3000 for Mind. You can read more about Simon’s fundraising and the cast list who provided performances free, below this final number featuring the entire Company. (Simon Shorten is in the waistcoat and tie in the video)

Simon’s Story For Mind

I am SO thrilled (and somewhat terrified) to be running my FIRST EVER MARATHON this year in support of the wonderful charity MIND, in a year which as been dominated by news of mental health research and reform.

Mind provide much needed support and information on all types of mental health issues. 

As a sufferer myself I know all too well just how important the help they may be able to provide someone in desperate need can be.

I am very fortunate to have a WONDERFUL family and network of friends whom I can rely on to help me through dark periods in my life…. many others do not… and often, sadly pay the ultimate price.

I hope that by running the marathon and raising much needed awareness and vital funds for this amazing charity, that anyone who feels like I once did… that “there is no way out”…. that “the world is a better place WITHOUT me in it”.. can have a chance to know that they are loved… someone does care… and that it’s ok not to be ok.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/simon-shorten2

The Cast

Laura Bangay – Musical Director

Musical Director credits include Disney’s Newsies and Cabaret for the Art’s Educational School, Romeo and Juliet at the RST and RSC, Our Ladies of Perpetual Soccour for the National Theatre and Children’s Director and Associate Conductor on the RSC’s Matilda The Musical.

Jacqueline Hughes

Jacqueline recently starred as Elphaba in Wicked International Tour.

Other credits include Sarah in Company, Katie Nanna, Cover Winifred Banks/Mrs Corry/Bird Woman in Mary Poppins, Enchantress in Beauty and the Beast and Cover Madame Morrible in Wicked London.

Zoe Curlett

Zoe’s theatre credits include Cosette in Les Miserables and Jennylorum in Cats. Zoe played Christine in The Phantom of the Opera for several years and was even invited to sing the part for the Queen’s gala performance at the Liverpool Empire. In 2012 Zoe took part in the vocal recording of the feature film of Les Miserables. 

Will Kenning

Credits include Sergei and 1st Cover Miss Trunchbull in Matilda The Musical, Big Jule in Guys And Dolls, The Heavenly Friend in Carousel and Big Bopper in Buddy. He is currently a regular in Penny on M.A.R.S on the Disney Channel.

Katy Hanna

Katy is currently performing in The Phantom of the Opera as 1st Cover Carlotta.
Other credits include 1st Cover Madame Morrible in Wicked, Cover Madame Thenardier and Factory Girl in Les Miserables and Cover Johanna in Sweeney Todd.

Kris Manuel

Kris is currently performing in The Phantom of the Opera as 1st Cover Monsieur Andre .Other credits include The Doctor/The Escapologist and Cover Mr Wormwood in Matilda The Musical, Cover Mr Braithwaite/Big Davy in Billy Elliot, and Ruhrgold/Alternate Electra in Starlight Express.

Vincent Pirillo

Vincent recently starred as Grandpa Gellman in Caroline or Change in the West End. Other credits include Piangi in The Phantom of the Opera, She Loves Me, Sweeney Todd, Fiddler On The Roof, Imagine This, Woman in White and Ragtime.

Simon Willmont

Credits include Cover Bill/Harry in Mamma Mia, Frank Parker in A Christmas Story, Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Gerry in Shady Business and Eddie in Blood Brothers.

Simon Shorten

Simon is currently performing in Matilda The Musical as Sergei and 1st Cover Miss Trunchbull. Other credits include Pirelli in Sweeney Todd, Artillery Man in War of the Worlds, 1st Cover Valjean in Les Miserables, Cover Phantom in Phantom of the Opera.

Danny Whitehead

Danny is currently performing in The Phantom of the Opera as 1st Cover Raoul. Other credits include Cover Enjolras in Les Miserables, Cover Wizard and Dr Dillamond in Wicked, Cover Tobias in Sweeney Todd and Cover Lt. Cable in South Pacific.

Rachel Spurrell

Rachel is currently performing in The Phantom of the Opera as 1st Cover Madame Giry. Other credits include Cover Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot, Understudy Barbara Castle in Made in Dagenham, Cover Wicked Witch and Glinda in The Wizard of Oz.

Lisa Anne Wood

Lisa recently starred as Susan in Company.
Other credits include Cosette in Les Miserables, Cover Christine in The Phantom of The Opera and a Soloist in the Three Phantoms Asia Tour.