Trafalgar Square was filled with tens of thousands of theatre goers this weekend to mark the return of London’s theatre after 18 months of lockdown. 

West End LIVE was a weekend-long free musical theatre festival which included nearly 50 shows and acts, as well as 830 performers and a further 250 employees behind the scenes. 

Shows included Disney’s Frozen, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella and Dear Evan Hansen. Hamilton and The Book of Mormon also made their debuts at the event. 

Actor Les Dennis made a cameo in English National Opera’s HMS Pinafore and comedians Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan made surprise appearances to introduce Magic Mike Live. 

West End LIVE is co-organised by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) and Westminster City Council. 

Leader of Westminster City Council Rachael Robathan said: “It was really moving to be at West End LIVE – after nearly two years of theatres having their curtains down, it was fantastic to see so many people gathered in Trafalgar Square watching performers delighted to be entertaining a big audience again. 

“I spoke to people who had come from all over the country to see a sneak preview of new shows and some established old favourites.” 

She added: “This is the West End we know and love – delighting visitors and offering them talent and attractions you won’t find anywhere else. I am proud that Westminster City Council was able to lead and fund this event in partnership with the Society go London Theatre and our sponsors, and together deliver the biggest range of shows ever seen at West End LIVE.” 

Before the curtains were drawn on the event, a performance of Heathers The Musical resulted in cast member Jodie Steele urging the audience to buy tickets and support theatre as it is now back in action. 

Julian Bird, chief executive of SOLT, said: “Our industry has weathered quite the storm over the past year and a half, and there are still many obstacles to overcome. But to be able to bring all of our biggest London shows together to mount such a large-scale, unique event has been absolutely incredible – I think everyone involved will remember West End LIVE 2021 for a long time. 

“We want to extend a hug thanks to all the shows and acts who participated and made the weekend so extraordinary – and of course to the thousands of loyal theatre lovers who came along to support the event. We hope to see you all in 2022!” 

Images: West End LIVE/ Pamela Raith