To welcome the return to one of our most iconic London stages, Monday Night at the Apollo
came with all the glitz and glam that one would expect after 18 months of closed curtains. Theatre was well and truly back and our anticipation was building – oh had we missed it.
Whilst Greg Barnett’s hosting skills were laced with a rustiness that was unsurprising from
an actor that has not quite dusted off the cobwebs accumulated from a long stint of not working, there was something endearing about the glitches of the night. A broken mic saw an unfaltering Aimie Atkinson continue her rendition of ‘Rolling in the Deep’, despite no one in the audience being able to hear her for a good 30 seconds. As we all held our breaths, watching her lip synch into the temporarily silent mic, as the rest of the cast gesticulated to the tech guys at the back for help, she continued on as if nothing was up; reminding us of the professionalism of the industry teams in an environment where unpredictability is the norm. When we finally heard her voice again, she was met by cheers of support as the camaraderie of the crowd became evident and her performance drew no doubt as to why she was so widely celebrated.
It was like getting to watch the dress rehearsal of a hugely anticipated event; except this time, the event is the opening up of the entire theatre industry. It was unquestionably just good to
be there and I can’t help but feel that even if the night had been filled with uncomfortable faux-pas and too many tumbleweed moments, we would have forgiven all, regardless. The event itself allowed us a peak behind the masks of these stars who don’t often get to express their individuality and diversifying talent, when performing as characters in shows usually written by and for others. Cedric Neal, who emotionally told us about being pipped to the post; not once, but twice for his dream role as the lead in Kinky Boots (firstly in Broadway to theatre royalty Billy Porter and secondly in the west end after 6 gruelling recalls), performed his audition piece for Kinky Boots. Despite a precursor warning that he might not make it through the song without tearing up, due to the aforementioned trauma – he was met with a standing ovation and (quite possibly) not a dry eye in the house as he drawled his last note.
Whilst it was a night of music – and we did get to enjoy a collection of old show tunes and
pop classics, we also got to learn about the relationships between each of the actors; their
experiences of the industry and their sense of humours. Whilst Lucie Jones was the standout
comedienne of the night; charming us all with anecdotes from her career thus far, including losing to Jedward in her elimination round on the X Factor, both Julian Ovenden and Cassidy Jensen; seasoned professionals knew how to hold an audience with their storytelling. Their voices raised goosebumps as they effortlessly dueted and the power they held as they took centre stage got us all emotionally prepared for the return of our favourite west end shows.
Whilst we remained socially distanced and masked throughout our time basking in the grandeur of the infamous Apollo Theatre, the night was intimate, friendly and erased the distance we sometimes feel from those who work on stage. The spark was clearly still there between these actors and their beloved work and we were being invited back into a community that have missed us just as much as we have missed them.
Catch the next performances of Monday Night at the Apollo on the 14th of June and 5th of July. Tickets are from £20 and can be purchased here.