West Side Story - 'Chiswick's favourite musical'

Vote made during the Bedford Park Festival

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West Side Story has narrowly beaten The Sound of Music in the ‘battle of the musicals’. The vote was taken as part of Musical Mayhem! – a celebration of The Musical in song and dance by the children of St Michael’s Junior Choir, during the middle weekend of the Bedford Park Festival.

Almost 200 votes were cast and West Side Story won by just three votes. It was helped by a remarkably confident performance of the song Somewhere by Milly Forrest and a tongue-in-cheek version of I Feel Pretty, featuring Daniel Pirie.

The audience in St Michael’s Church was invited to choose between a dozen musicals, after watching songs performed by the choir. The second half of the show featured the top five musicals in reverse order, announced by the narrator Archie Preston.

Francesca Bailey and the choir sang Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music, to put The Sound of Music in second place. My Fair Lady took third place, thanks to an entertaining performance of Get Me To the Church on Time, featuring James Porter as the drunken dustman, Alfred P. Doolittle, with four cronies.

In fourth place overall was Annie, which featured Alice Kent singing Tomorrow and Charlotte Keith singing Maybe, while fifth place went to Oliver, with a medley of songs sung by the whole choir. They were run very close by Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, thanks to a vampish performance of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend by Jocelyn Juritz, which prompted huge applause from the audience. The other soloist was Eleanor Douglas, who sang Wonderful Copenhagen from Hans Christian Andersen. Other highlights included the Teddy Bears' Picnic by the younger children and Sausage Rock 'n' Roll from the musical Divine Pursuits by local composer Cecilia McDowell, in which all the dancers wore 'pig' masks!

Much of the show’s success must be credited to the choreographer,16-year-old Harriet Preston, who last year played Miss Hannigan in the Festival production of Annie and the previous year played Nancy in Oliver. She coaxed remarkably accomplished dance performances out of the children, as did the musical director Phoebe Woollam.

Many parents helped with the costumes, set design and technical production and half a dozen young musicians also played a large part in the show’s success. It was sponsored by Letts, the educational publisher, based in Chiswick High Road.

Those who voted for Chiswick's Favourite Musical were entered into a draw to win a £10 CD voucher. The three winners were: Charlotte Timmons, Colin Busby and W.P. Gillette-Fussell.

June 7, 2004