(BBC One, 7pm)
For the past two years, the world has been tipped upside down and kicked around by the Covid-19 pandemic, and no aspect of our lives has been left untouched.
While some businesses were able to soldier on in one form or another, the arts world, a precarious industry even at the best of times, was among the hardest-hit sectors as audiences vanished almost overnight.
Despite the best efforts of the Omicron variant, things are, by degrees, returning to normal, and the musical theatre community decided it was the ideal time to say thank you to everyone who plays the National Lottery for funding over 2,000 theatres via the £30million they raise every week for good causes.
Elton John famously said: “music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours”.
Heaven knows we all need an escape from the daily grind, and comedian Jason Manford, who has appeared in multiple West End musicals, including Sweeney Todd and Curtains, is our host for an unforgettable event at the AO Arena in Manchester.
It will feature special collaborations and sensational performances of some of the biggest songs from musical theatre and among the sold-out audience enjoying this one-of-a-kind evening will be members of National Lottery-funded community and grassroots arts organisations from across the North West of England. So who will they be watching take to the stage?
The casts from current West End shows, including Frozen The Musical, Disney’s The Lion King, Back to the Future, The Drifters Girl, Dear Evan Hanson, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, and Get Up Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical will all be performing. And there will also be numbers from casts of shows that are currently touring up and down the UK including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock, Bat Out of Hell, Dreamgirls and Waitress.
As if all that wasn’t enough to have you singing along at the top of your voice and bopping around the sitting room, the cast of Beauty and the Beast will be giving it their all in a unique Disney medley. In addition, fresh from a run at Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre, the cast of The Wiz will be delighting the local audience with a rendition of Ease On Down The Road.
Jason says: “After a very difficult 20 months for the theatre industry, I am proud and honoured to be hosting this National Lottery musical spectacular. The event promises to be a brilliant show full of celebration, featuring some of the best musicals on right now.”
Kate Phillips, the BBC’s director of entertainment enthuses: “We are delighted to bring a great night of contemporary musicals that the entire family can enjoy into viewers homes, showcasing the world-class talent that British theatre is known for.”
Helen Thomas, head of BBC Radio 2, who are broadcasting the event at 1pm tomorrow (Sunday), adds: “Following Radio 2’s award-winning Musicals: The Greatest Show, which was broadcast on BBC One in February, I’m thrilled to be delighting our musical-loving listeners once again with this fantastic show. It’s just what we need to lift our spirits during a cold January.”
We couldn’t agree more.