Last night on 22nd May 2014, there was a star-studded West End Eurovision return to the Dominion Theatre London, for its 7th and final year in support of The Make A Difference (MAD) Trust. Join winners were Mamma Mia! and Les Misérables.
There were more than 200 performers on show, with West End Eurovision being one of the biggest and most exciting late night events in the West End, which resulted in a tremendously successfully evening.
As much as the performers and performances were the star of the evening, the most moving part came from a speech by multi-award winning director Andrew Keates, about his experience directing a revival of the first ever AIDS play, As Is by William M. Hoffman and how this affected his own life:
‘My cast and production team wanted to know why I wanted to do this play. I explained I thought it was a beautiful story of one person reaching out to another and asking them to take to accept them ‘as is’. Secondly, I wanted to respect all those that we had lost, and lastly, I wanted the younger generations (who didn’t live through the horrendous 1980s AIDS epidemic), to be inspired enough to get tested. Then, if one person did find that their status was positive, they could receive treatment in good time. You can imagine my surprise when, after the show, I discovered that actually I was that person. I was HIV+… Anyone who knows me, would know that I have never been anything more than proud of who I am. And why shouldn’t I be? Tonight isn’t about raising money for ‘those with HIV’ but raising money for our friends, colleagues and fellow artists that may fall on hard times. One day that could be me. One day that could be you. In many ways I feel like I am coming out for a second time… The best advice I can give anyone, whether they work in theatre or not, is to get tested, stay safe and not to be ignorant of those of us who are positive. This business is hard enough. Let’s all look after each other.’
Andrew’s bravery and honesty made an impression on the evening way above anything else. Celebrity judges – TV and radio personality Graham Norton, X Factor favourite Rylan Clarke, actress Caroline Quentin and Birds of a Feather’s Lesley Joseph – plus host Richard Gauntlett also made the evening a fabulous evening to never forget.
The MAD Trust works with the British entertainment industry and its audiences to raise funds to offer care and support to people living with HIV, AIDS and other chronic illnesses, who are unable to work and are facing hardship. To support The MAD Trust all people have to do is text MADT £3 to 70007 to give just £3.
Friday 23rd May 2014