Here's what we learned from the opening night of London's vibrant new musical.
Presented by Claire Sweeney and Olivier Award host Jason Manford, the Songs & Solidarity concert was organised by performer Giles Terera (soon to be seen playing Aaron Burr in Hamilton) and producer Danielle Tarento in just seven days.
The brilliant cast performed a series of touching numbers of pop and rock classics, including renditions of Oh Had I A Golden Thread, True Colors, The Wind Beneath My Wings, and Redemption Song.
Musical theatre was well represented too, with Janson blasting out tracks direct from Beautiful and composers Stiles & Drewe performing their hilarious parody number A Little Bit Of Nothing On A Big White Plate. Even Terera treated the audience to an unscripted, gorgeous rendition of Ol’ Man River from classic musical Show Boat.
Performances were interspersed by accounts of survivors, read by a bunch of amazing actors including Vikash Bhai, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Rakhee Thakrar. Bonnie Greer performed a reading of Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise, while Oliver Award-winner Noma Dumezweni read a heart-breaking story of a London firefighter’s rescue attempt on the day of the disaster.
But while the show had moments of sadness and contemplation, there was plenty of fun too. Comedy came from the brilliant Mark Thomas, and both jazz maestro Earl Okin and legendary performer Rikki Beadle-Blair provided plenty of laughs during their segments.
Other performers on the bill included Clare Foster, David McAlmont, Omar F Okai Company, Jon Robyns and the West End Gospel Choir. There were even voiceover contributions from the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The main message of the evening was about coming together, and this was never more present than during Julie Atherton’s stunning performance of Foy Vance’s hit Indiscriminate Act Of Kindness, to which the whole audience was singing along to by the end like some united, brilliant choir.
This was exemplified again when special surprise guest Heather Small took to the stage, leading the cast (and audience) in a full-blown, on-your-feet version of her hit single, Proud.
The amazing night was rounded off with a Silent Auction, where the prizes included tickets to top London shows, exclusive signed paraphernalia and other West End goodies.
The sold-out night raised over £4,000 for the Grenfell Tower fund.
Those who were unable to attend the event can still make a donation through the fund’s Go Fund Me page.