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Search For A Twitter Star Live | So So Gay magazine

@westendproducer is as a Twitter sensation, a spoof account hitting remarkably close to the mark parodying a famous West End impresario. But softly ribbing the musical theatre community wasn’t enough for the man (or woman) who is keeping their real identity under wraps. Using his Twitter fame he’s launched a talent search for future West End leading men and ladies.

After more than 650 budding Michael Balls and Elaine Paiges submitted videos over YouTube, industry judges and the Twitter-using public whittled them down to ten finalists, all performing on a West End stage in a bid to win the big prize. Originally the whole contest was to remain on Twitter – but producer Tony Green convinced @WestEndProducer that this needed a proper finale.

Songs of Praise host Aled Jones (please don’t mention The Snowman) was the perfect host: witty and self-deprecating, and keeping a polite if partisan crowd enthused.  An X Factor-style judging panel was also on hand, comprising musical director Mike Dixon, agent Gemma Lowy Hamilton, leading lady Louise Dearman, and proper West End producer (and secret millionnaire) David King. They found themselves ensconced in boxes, pontificating Statler & Waldorf style on the evening’s proceedings. And of course the man himself had a prime spot (and a Twitter-connected laptop) ensuring he could give his own running commentary on the proceedings. Don’t worry – he maintained the mystery thanks to a frankly freaky rubber mask.

There were some stand-out performances. Ben Vivian Jones (@benvivianjones) did a fantastic performance of ‘Stranger In This World’ from Boy George’s Taboo (soon to return to stage in Brixton), and 18-year-old last-minute stand-in Elliot Clay (@elliotclay) impressed with ’Something’s Coming’ from West Side Story. For the girls, Alexandra Da Silva (@alexdasilva27) is definitely one to watch – her performance of ‘The Man That Got Away’ really showed star quality.

While the votes were counted the audience was treated to stunning performances by singers from Associated Studios – a definite display of future stars – and a preview of 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, soon to be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe by Patch of Blue Theatre Company.

The final winners, Felipe Bejerano (@felipebejerano) and Kara Bayer (@karabayer), got the chance to duet with West End stars Jon Lee and Kerry Ellis, no stranger to the talent show herself. And then a rousing finale of ‘One Day More’ from Les Miserableswhen Kara really shone singing the part of Eponine.

All in all this was a delight of an evening for any true musical theatre fan. For a first attempt there were certainly teething problems – not every judging panel needs to have someone emulating ‘nasty’ Nigel Lithgow or Simon Cowell. But this celebration of young musical theatre could become an annual fixture on the West End – and maybe Cameron Mackintosh may even turn up himself (unless, of course, @westendproducer is really him).

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Hertz launch canal boat rental in time for Amsterdam Pride | So So Gay magazine

While the world’s attention is on London, Amsterdam is gearing up for one of the most fun Gay Pride events of the year this weekend. If Ben Ainslie and the other Olympic sailors have got you in the mood to get on to the water, then Amsterdam, with its collection of famous canals, is the perfect place to do it.

Hertz, the famous car rental company, have branched out to canal boat rental – just in time for Pride. They are offering everything from gondolas and taxi boats, through to luxury motorboats and large boats that can hold up to 35 – perfect for your Pride party. They give customers who are feeling adventurous the option of trying their hand as skipper, but those who are simply after some relaxation can opt for an experienced captain and a private chef.

Priced at hourly rates from just €5 per person or €150 per boat, the crafts are the perfect way to see the sights of the city and can be booked at http://www.hertz-rentaboat.nl. As a special addition to the fleet, a special yellow Hertz Canal Cruiser is available for hire from €7 per person and can take as many as 20 people, plus a skipper. The Hertz Canal Cruiser is located at the quay of Restaurant Liefde, Bilderdijkpark in Amsterdam.

And with the annual canal parade taking place on 4 August – what better time to get onto the water and see Amsterdam in style.

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Theatre review: La Gateau Chocolat (Menier Chocolate Factory, London) | So So Gay magazine

It’s the home gig he could only dream about – Le Gateau Chocolat live at the Chocolate Factory. This larger than life, lycra loving, opera singing diva has brought his cabaret tour from the other side of the world back to the country he calls home.

With his booming baritone voice, Le Gateau Chocolat intersperses deeply personal reflections on his life with a combination of showtunes, pop and alternative interpretations of classic hits.

Borough’s intimate and versatile Menier Chocolate Factory is no stranger to the delights of drag and cabaret – Douglas Hodge’s hugely successful production of La Cage Aux Folles played to sell out crowds in 2007 before a successful West End and Broadway transfer. And the sell-out crowd for Le Gateau Chocolate also seemed to be having the time of their lives.

Le Gateau Chocolate has an impressive voice to match his huge on-stage presence, particularly when booming out such standards as Sunset Boulevard’s ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ and the Barbra Streisand classic – ‘Don’t Rain on my Parade’.  It perhaps lets him down a little on the quieter numbers – although his take on Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ is one of the more moving moments of the evening.

This is by no means a perfect production – a one-person show always has the risk of being self-indulgent, and this doesn’t always avoid that trap. At times the banter is self-depracating – which is at times very funny, but perhaps aptly this one-act one-and-a-half hour show could definitely drag.

The costumes are wonderful (keep your eye out for the snowball) and if you have a passion for the feel of lycra, make sure you get yourself an aisle seat. Le Gateau Chocolate is much like his namesake – enjoyable but can make you feel a little nauseous in large portions.

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Theatre review: Without You (Menier Chocolate Factory, London) | So So Gay magazine

Positives:

Anthony Rapps wonderful voice, singing such beautiful songs.

 

Negatives:

An awkward moment after the final bow when the band perhaps plays just a little bit too long for such a small theatre.

 

Bottom Line:

4.0 / 5 – Very Good