Following on from their successful Monday Night at the Apollo and West End Acoustic shows, New Frame Productions and Wild Mountain Productions have launched a brand new concert series. Live at Lola’s is a musical chat show featuring West End stars which takes place at Lola’s Underground Casino at The Hippodrome (strictly an over 18s venue!) We headed along to the inaugural event this Thursday for an evening of showtunes and stagey anecdotes.
Hosted by Greg Barnett, Live at Lola’s invites audiences behind the curtain for an evening with some of the most popular stars of stage and screen. The opening night featured Christine Allado (The Prince of Egypt, Hamilton, In The Heights), Hadley Fraser (City of Angels, Chess, 2:22 A Ghost Story), Isaac Hesketh (Legally Blonde, Rent, The Book of Mormon) and Carly Mercedes Dyer (Anything Goes, The Color Purple, A Chorus Line).
It’s a fun concept which very much lives up to the promise of a “chat show” style format rather than a more traditional cabaret. Imagine a theatrical version of the Graham Norton Show, in which musical theatre stars trade stagey stories in between belting the roof off the Hippodrome. Barnett does well to put his guests at ease, creating a relaxed atmosphere in which they are comfortable spilling the highs and lows of showbiz. On Thursday night the audience was treated to tit-bits about on-stage mishaps, off-stage nervous poos and a career low of being judged by a raccoon. We also learned all about the versatility of crabapples!
It’s a brilliant chance for fans to gain an insight into the lives of their stage idols, as well as potentially introducing them to some new stagey faves. A “finishing the hat” segment offers the audience the opportunity to submit questions to the guests, while the “stagey quiz” sees them go head to head in a bid for musical theatre glory. This fast-paced segment was a real highlight of the evening, which descended into madness (particularly when Isaac Hesketh confidently proclaimed “High School Musical, bitch” in response to a question about which musical is set in Rydell High School!)
Of course, the musical numbers are the true highlight, accompanied by the excellent Chris Hatt on the piano. Between them, the performers showcased a wide-ranging repertoire including numbers from Showboat, Anyone Can Whistle, The Little Mermaid and A Chorus Line, before rounding things off with some festive tunes. With the show overrunning a little, it looked like a few numbers had to be dropped, which was a shame as we would have loved to hear more from Isaac Hesketh but hopefully that just means they’ll have to get them back another night!
Lola’s Underground Casino is a great venue for this venture, although be warned that it can be a little difficult to find your way in and back out as there are lots of different entrances and casinos aren’t all that keen on signposting the exit. We almost ended up at Magic Mike! Drinks are also on the pricey side, but that’s to be expected at a casino in the heart of the West End (especially if you’re tempted by the tasty cocktails).
Overall, Live at Lola’s is a brilliant new addition to the West End. We had a great evening and can’t wait to see who’s up next.
The first event in the Live at Lola’s series took place on 8 December 2022. We received complimentary press tickets.