💃 Listen to live performances by musical theatre stars
This weekend's main event is Musicals: The Greatest Show (7-9pm, Sunday, BBC Radio 2) which assembles a huge line-up of musical theatre stars for a night of special performances. Highlights include the legendary Lea Salonga performing 'I Dreamed A Dream' from Les Misérables from her home in Manila, Dear Evan Hansen star Sam Tutty singing 'You Will Be Found', Michael Ball having a – well – ball to 'You Can't Stop The Beat' from Hairspray, and the evening's host Sheridan Smith reprising her cloud-bursting 'Don't Rain On My Parade' from Funny Girl.
💃 Decide how outraged you're going to get at a musical theatre top 20
Get ready to shake your fist at the radio as Elaine Paige hosts The All-Time Greatest Song from a Musical (1pm, Sunday, BBC Radio 2), featuring the 20 top songs as voted for by the British public. If 'One Day More' isn't in there - to the barricades!
💃 Dive into musical theatre history
Enhance your musical theatre nerd credentials with a line-up of documentaries on both radio and telly. Highlights include a chance to hear the original cast of Cats reminisce about a simpler time, before CGI and James Corden (BBC Radio 2) and a look at a Broadway game-changer in West Side Stories: The Making of a Classic (BBC 4). Other treats include a series of decade-by-decade looks at musical theatre, kicking off with Sounds of the 60s (BBC Radio 2) with Petula Clarke picking her favourite musical theatre tunes.
This weekend's BBC line-up will be poignant as well as fun; it's a reminder that it's been way too long since we've had a new musical opening to get excited over. Still, if you want to sprinkle something very 2021 into your weekend, check out the fan-created Bridgerton musical on TikTok, or James Cordon's hilarious musical farewell to Trump, One Day More. Or get some tips from West End pros at our online extravaganza this weekend, which is organised by Layton Williams and packed full of workshops, performances and Q&As. The West End might be closed, but not even Covid can stop the beat.
Until next week,
ASK LYN: Why not use star ratings?
"Star ratings are a very blunt instrument. Detached from a review and pasted outside a theatre or all over the publicity, they play into the idea that what artists do is easy, and can be graded exactly like a spin dryer."
Quotes of the Week
"When I saw my name scroll across the screen, I threw my body up off the couch and hurled out this animalistic, barbaric roar, and started crying.”
- Robyn Hurder, talking about the surreal experience of getting a Tony Award nomination for Moulin Rouge during lockdown, in New York Times.
"My mother is a history teacher and I have spent my whole life being cross about the history we see in period dramas. Bridgerton...is welcoming everybody, whether you’re gay, feminist, a person of colour. It recognises you were there."
- Adjoa Andoh, telling The Guardian why she welcomes Bridgerton's growing fanbase – who've even made Bridgerton: The Musical on Tiktok.
Manipulate Festival (27 Jan - 7 Feb)
Lyn Gardner recommends dipping into this fest of visual theatre and puppetry that's made in Scotland.
We're all Strangers Here (31 Jan - 28 Feb)
Lyn Gardner recommends this "intriguing" experiment in binaural sound.
OPENING THIS WEEK
The Poltergeist (25 Jan - 1 Feb)
Philip Ridley's play follows a troubled artist skulking in his flat: catch it online in Southwark Playhouse's production.
Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hung Parliament (From 27 Jan)
An online mystery from hit immersive theatremakers Les Enfant Terribles.
Singin' in the Rain (Opening 30 Jul, tickets from £36)
This golden age musical gem is forecast to return this summer.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Opening 26 Oct, tickets from £22)
The National Theatre's stunning adaptation of a Gaiman novel.
Life of Pi (Opening 26 Sep, tickets from £30)
This adaptation of a blockbuster novel will use puppets to bring its magical world to life.
Cinderella (Opening 30 Apr, tickets from £24)
See Carrie Hope Fletcher play Cinders in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical fairytale.
Cover Image: The original cast of Cats the musical. Photo by Christopher Pearce.