West End Does: Country
Rating: ★★★★★
Venue: Cadogan Hall, London
Cast: Giovanna Fletcher, Arthur Darvill, Michael Ahomka-Lindsay, Louise Dearman, Leslie Bowman, Matt Lucas, Rob Houchen, Remember Monday, Sarah Gardiner, Guildford School of Acting Choir and Urdang dancers 

On its sixth birthday, the company that brought you West End Does: The Magic of Animation, Christmas, Love and many more sold-out concerts is back with a brand new heel-toe-tastic show that is all things COUNTRY! All singing songs from Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash to Taylor Swift and Shania Twain.

West End Does concerts have been a firm favourite of mine since they started 6 years ago. Previous shows include Christmas, Hollywood, Bond and the Magic of Animation. Last night, we were treated to an evening of country music. One aspect of these concerts that remains consistent is the calibre of performers it attracts, and this concert was no exception.

The star-studded cast sang a selection of country hits, spanning the decades. From Shania Twain, to Dolly Parton, to Kacey Musgraves, to Taylor Swift, to Glen Campbell - there was something for everyone on this staggering two hour setlist. 

Whenever I see reviews of concerts, I'm always keen to hear who sang what, so here's a rundown:

Giovanna Fletcher:
American Pie - Don McLean
Follow Your Arrow - Kacey Musgraves 
Crazy - Patsy Cline

Arthur Darvill:
Sadness as a Gift - Adrianne Lenker
Rhinestone Cowboy - Glen Campbell 
The Gambler - Kenny Rogers

Michael Ahomka-Lindsay:
I Can't Stop Loving You - Ray Charles
Tennessee Whiskey - Chris Stapleton

Louise Dearman:
I Hope You Dance - Lee Ann Womack 
Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood

Leslie Bowman:
Riding the Waves - tap dancing solo

Matt Lucas:
Stand By Your Man - Tammy Wynette

Sarah Gardiner:
Fancy - Bobbie Gentry (competition winner)

Rob Houchen:
Smokey Mountain Memories - Earl Thomas Conley
Misty - Ella Fitzgerald
Take Me Home Country Roads - John Denver

Remember Monday:
Down With Me (original song)
Texas Hold 'Em - Beyonce
Show Face (original song) 
You're Still the One/Brown Eyed Girl - Shania Twain/Van Morrison

Dolly Parton Medley (Jolene and 9 to 5) - Arthur and Louise
Taylor Swift Medley (You Belong With Me and Love Story) - Guildford School of Acting Choir
How Do I Live/I Can't Make You Love Me - Rob and Louise 

As far as standout performers of the evening, Arthur Darvill completely stole the show for me. His performance of Rhinestone Cowboy is something that will be etched into my brain always. His stage presence last night was captivating and his quick-witted humour at the few hiccups that occurred were met with rapturous laughter from the crowd. Darvill's voice is perfectly suited to the country genre, which is likely down to his recent run in Oklahoma. I only wish he'd sung something from the show last night - I felt a trick was missed there! 

Giovanna Fletcher delivered a stunning performance of American Pie, whereby the audience were so quiet you could hear a pin drop. And the duet from Rob Houchen and Louise Dearman was enough to blow the roof off of Cadogan Hall; a true pair of powerhouse performers.

Having seen Remember Monday previously, I was looking forward to seeing them perform again and they were just as sensational as I remembered. As well as performing their own music, they did the most incredible cover of Beyonce's Texas Hold 'Em which suited their voices perfectly. 

The outfits were suitably country themed, and a mention must go to Louise Dearman, Rob Houchen and Remember Monday who seemed to have a different outfit each time they performed a number!

The Urdang dancers that performed during Dearman's rendition of I Hope You Dance were scene-stealing, which is quite a feat when you have Louise Dearman to compete with for attention. It was simply breath-taking to watch.

Musical concerts seem to have one thing in common: sound issues. However, the West End Does concerts never seem to suffer from this, so props must be given to the sound team, Harvey Appleton, Stephen Roe and Chance Bemmer.

My one slight critique comes down to being such a huge country fan and wanting to hear more of my favourites. For example, I would have loved to have seen the songs in the Taylor Swift medley be focused more on her debut album, and more upbeat Shania Twain hits would have been ideal for an audience sing-a-long.

These concerts have set an incredibly high standard for musical concerts in general, and I'm just not sure they can be beaten. They're consistently brilliant, and a lot of fun. What I enjoy most is the upcoming West End talent that they showcase, as well as firm favourites within the musical theatre community. 

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