Richard Davenport

The annual theatrical fundraiser will return to London on 28 October with a fierce new theme and an all-new cast ready to strip in the name of charity.

Now in its ninth year in London and having raised thousands for the Make a Difference Trust – what makes Bares more than an annual night of hilarity sure to bring a smile to the faces of many?

We spoke to David Grewcock, artistic director of West End Bares, about everything from working with drag legend Bianca Del Rio to flashing the flesh and making a difference for others…

What do you think it is about West End Bares that connects with people so much?
It’s one of those rare events that is an absolute one off.  You can’t see what happens at Bares every other weekend in a bar or cabaret club – it only happens in two places in the world, London and New York (Broadway and Fire Island) so by being part of it, you are part of something truly unique.

Throw in over 100 people getting their kit off and it’s hard not to connect with it on some level. And whilst everyone enjoys that part of it, I think they see the time and energy and artistry that goes into it. On top of eight shows a week, rehearsals, auditions and cover runs etc, the choreographers, performers, costume teams and stage crew create these stunning numbers, which takes a lot of time.

Darren Bell

Nine years later, do you have a personal highlight?
Oh wow, so many! Bianca Del Rio at Take Off in 2015 was brilliant. The first time performing in the show in 2011’s Clothing Optional was huge fun; the Ping Pong number from 2012 will always be one of my favourites.

I think moving the show to a theatre was a particular highlight. It was a big risk and a big change of format, but it paid off. Ideally, we’ll find a future home for it where we can have standing and seated tickets.

Related: Gag on this sickening West End Bares 2017 highlights video – exclusive

And you’re back for 2018. What can we all expect from West End Bares 2018?
Top Off The Tops is bringing sexy back like only West End Bares can. We have an incredible live band, some of the biggest and best singers from the West End and over 120 nearly naked performers from the West End and beyond – it is NOT to be missed.

We’re in a bigger theatre too which means much more space for the legendary Rotation at the end of the show where our audience get up close and personal with the cast. We also have a really exciting addition to the Rotation this year which we can’t wait to reveal on the night…

So tell us about the theme this year…
This year’s show, Top Off The Pops, celebrates iconic music artists and some of their sexiest tracks so you’ll get a bit of Madonna, Prince, Queen, Take That, Whitney, Britney and loads more – there’s something for everyone. We will be putting a twist on a few classics, but everyone in the audience will know the music. They’re massive hits from the biggest recording artists over the last 30 years.

Craig Sugden

Will there be a handful of famous faces in attendance once again?
Absolutely! We’ve always been so lucky to have the support of the wider entertainment industry and this year is no exception. There will be some familiar faces and some new additions to the show as well as some great West End leading ladies and gentlemen joining us on the night.

And perhaps a little bit of skin, too?
LOTS of skin! With a cast this big, there will be more than ever.

And while the night is incredibly fun, it also has a serious message of supporting others running throughout… 
The Make a Difference Trust is all about uniting the theatre community to help those affected by HIV/AIDS in the UK and abroad. We are so lucky to be working in the theatre industry and to make a difference to the lives of others just by doing what we love –  it’s a no brainer. We are a small charity that has a big impact on the lives of thousands of people, and it’s only possible thanks to the efforts of everyone that gives up their time and talents to make West End Bares possible.

West End Bares: Top Off The Pops is on Sunday 28 October at 7pm and 9:30pm at the Shaftesbury Theatre.  More information on West End Bares 2018 can be found here

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