Over the past 7 years, Eyebrow Productions have completed four Showtime Challenges, a concept where an entire show is rehearsed and performed in just 48 hours. Over 500 cast and team members have now been a part of taking on “The West End in a Weekend!” Their talent and teamwork have contributed to four fantastic and successful performances that have also raised over £70,000 for local and National charities.
Where did it all begin?
In 2004, Eyebrow produced the first Showtime Challenge – a performance of Sondheim‘s Into The Woods at the New Theatre in Oxford.
The 48 hours of the Showtime weekend were absolutely crazy and very little went according to plan! As the audience arrived, the set was still being built, the director and technical team had only just finished plotting the first act of the show, the sound crew had not seen or heard the production from start to finish and the orchestra was a bit weary having spent the weekend sleeping on the stone floor of a church. Perhaps one of the more unusual performances of Into The Woods ever seen…?
The reality was that the cast, crew, orchestra and especially the audience had a fantastic evening. The performance was reviewed as ‘ beautifully delivered’ and the sense of teamwork was unlike anything we had experienced before. The combination of determination and energy overcame all obstacles to produce a performance that everyone was proud of. To top it all off, we were pleased to raise thousands for the new children’s hospital which opened in Oxford in 2007.
After the success of Into The Woods, Eyebrow was asked to reprise its 48-hour challenge and Cy Coleman’s hit musical, Sweet Charity was chosen for Showtime Challenge 2. Hundreds of people from all over the country applied to audition and volunteer to take part in the performance at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on 10 December 2006.
All candidates had to go through a rigorous audition process which included acting, singing and dance auditions. The standard of the performers combined with far reaching and overwhelming support for all aspects of the production made it a great project for everyone involved. The show’s host, Gail Porter, said the evening ‘exceeded everyone’s expectations’ and was a wonderful evening raising money and awareness for the British Heart Foundation.
Showtime supporter Dame Judi Dench said: ‘When I heard it was a musical in 48 hours, well, a play would be difficult! But to get all the singing, acting and dancing is truly admirable. I wouldn’t make a habit of it. Maybe once every two years…’
So, two years later, we were delighted to be back in the West End, with a Showtime Challenge performance of Me and My Girl at the London Palladium on 26 October 2008. The production received 4 stars from the Evening Standard, reviewing the concept as “Equal parts bonkers and inspiring!”
The evening was hosted by Mel Giedroyc and Les Dennis with all proceeds being donated to the Anthony Nolan Trust, who do essential work in saving lives by recruiting donors to the UK’s most successful bone marrow register.
The stakes raised once again, performing to a packed audience in perhaps the most famous theatre in London, the event was a huge success. The Evening Standard said: Such was the urgency, enthusiasm and talent that this production managed to inject new life into Stephen Fry and Mike Ockrent’s 1984 revision of a 71-year-old warhorse.
In 2009, Eyebrow produced the 4th Showtime Challenge, a performance of Crazy for You at The London Palladium. The show included 21 different tap numbers and a cast of over 130. Of Eyebrow, Stephen Fry exclaimed: “Oh, how wildly deranged you all are! Merciful heavens, what are you even thinking of? I mean, you splendid people, my love goes out to you. My admiration knows no bounds, not one single bound does it know.”
The performance was absolutely fantastic and raised thousands of pounds for Cecily’s Fund, a charity that provides education for children in Zambia, orphaned by AIDS.
In 2011, Eyebrow Productions are aiming to put on the best production ever of Sandy Wilson’s The Boy Friend! With the best talent and brilliant team work, we hope to raise thousands for The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts.