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West End Women at Cadogan Hall

INTERVIEW | Jamie Lambert on Highlighting How Female Roles Have Changed in ‘West End Women’

Following the smash-hit concert There is Nothin’ Like a Dame, Lambert Jackson are putting on West End Women, a concert celebrating women in musical theatre featuring three of the West End’s most celebrated leading ladies. 

Last May, Jamie Lambert and Eliza Jackson set up their production company with an aim to do things differently. After talking about musical theatre roles for women and how they’ve changed, they wanted to highlight that by putting on a concert featuring a selection of powerful songs for females. I spoke to Jamie Lambert, Collabro singer and producer, about the inspiration behind this show and why he feels so passionately about gender equality in the industry.

“It is something that has been spoken about on TV, in politics and education but musicals, plays and the arts have always been one of the first places to explore these things and reflect the way that society is changing,” he explained. “Look at Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, look at Kinky Boots, look at these shows that are looking at gender roles and then destroying them.”

“Musical theatre has always been ahead of its time, look at RENT for example. These musicals that have been in the forefront of society in times when these themes have been taboo.”

Starring Rachel John (Hamilton, Memphis), Celinde Schoenmaker (Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables) and Lauren Samuels (We Will Rock You, Bend it Like Beckham), it’s set to be an evening of musical theatre hits that celebrate the West End’s leading ladies.

“I think there is a wonderful rainbow of diversity in the West End and I picked these women because I think they reflect that. They’re all incredible performers and fully believe in this project and that’s something I’m really excited about,” Jamie said. 

“I regularly get invited to talk about gender, toxic masculinity, time’s up, me too and more because I believe that there is a huge amount of work to be done,’ Jamie explained. “The gender inequality still happening in our world is astounding. Look at the reaction to the latest Gillette advert, look at the reaction to Rose McGowan when she started talking about Harvey Weinstein.”

“It is unbelievable that it’s happening in this day and age. However, musical theatre has always been on the forefront of exploring it. If you look at the difference between Sara Bareilles writing Waitress, which is about a pregnant woman who flourishes and thrives in solidarity with her fellow women. In comparison to Fantine in Les Mis who gets pregnant, has to prostitute herself and dies. We now have these fantastic productions like Waitress that have characters like Jenna, a woman who gets to know herself because of being pregnant. It’s about female empowerment.”

Jamie Lambert from Lambert Jackson Productions

Jamie expressed how important it is to look back at these roles and how infuriating it is when people say you shouldn’t be performing certain musicals because of historical insensitivity. “It isn’t how it should happen, you can’t gender-wash or white-wash history,” he said. “You have to go back in time and look at the musicals to see the difference between the way women were portrayed in 1920 compared to 2019.”

Jamie’s passion for fighting gender inequality came from growing up around his mother. “My mum was the youngest person to run a hospital at the time and she spent her whole career being underestimated by men,” Jamie said. “The Chief Executive role was always viewed as a man’s role, and she spent her lifetime breaking barriers and leading the way, which really inspired me.”

Alongside highlighting the change in gender-roles, Lambert Jackson also want to give a platform to undiscovered talent. They are holding competitions to find talented people that are otherwise unheard. This means that performers of any age, background or training can win the opportunity to be on stage with West End Stars. “One of the best moment of our concerts last year was Daisy Greenwood, she was the competition winner and she came out and sang Don’t Rain On My Parade and in my opinion and the women on stage’s opinion she vocally matched them,” he said.

“There’s not just the talent you see on the West End, there are so many more people that don’t get seen because they don’t have the right hair colour or might be the wrong height, or might not have worked in a couple of months. There is so much to address in this industry and we are only just getting started.” 

Big things are happening for Lambert Jackson as they launch a series of concerts to really shine a spotlight on these important issues in the industry. What the company have planned for the future is both exciting and exhilarating as their outlook on change is remarkably refreshing. 

West End Women is on at Cadogan Hall on Saturday 2nd of February, tickets and information can be found on their website.

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