Monday, 6 September 2010

ONE SINGULAR SENSATION

Over the last eighteen months to two years, I have been working on a series of eight hour-long documentaries for BBC Radio 2 celebrating the most popular and successful form of theatrical entertainment in the world –– The Musical.

Each programme is presented by a leading name from the world of musical theatre beginning with Siân Phillips who hosts 'Stories with Songs' tonight at 10:00 pm.

Future presenters include Whoopi Goldberg, Sheila Hancock, Daniel Evans, Julia McKenzie, Bill Kenwright and Michael Ball.

Today, the musical is a global entertainment form, but even though you can now experience many of the same shows in the theatre districts of the major capitals in the world, for most of us it's still associated with the place where it was born – Broadway: the road that runs the full length of Manhattan and especially that part between 42nd and 53rd Streets that is known as The Great White Way...


Whilst the musical is a genre of theatre, when you look at individual shows you find that they're a mass of other genres: there are comedies, dramas and histories, and shows that address social, political and even religious ideas.

But whatever the subject matter, one thing is certain, to be a good musical, you need a good story or 'book'. This opening documentary asks, if the book is so important why are there so few musicals that have an original story as opposed to being adapted from some other medium?

The series is produced by my good friend Malcolm Prince and among its contributors will be Stephen Sondheim, Patti Lupone, Arlene Phillips, Maury Yeston, John Barrowman, Elaine Stritch, Maria Friedman, Sandy Wilson, Victor Spinetti, Ruthie Henshall, Don Black, Tim Rice, Donna McKechnie, Gillian Lynne, Elaine Paige, Richard Stilgoe, Paul Nicholas, Marvin Hamlisch, Liz Robertson, Joel Grey, Thomas Schumacher, Michael Grandage, Cameron Mackintosh and Bobby Lopez.

Among the shows featured in this first programme are The Boy Friend, Chess, Starlight Express, Sunday in the Park with George and A Chorus Line...



Following transmission, the shows can be heard again for seven days via the BBC iPlayer.

10 comments:

SharonM said...

Really looking forward to it.

Suzanne said...

I saw a fantastic, absolutely hilarious musical while I was in Canada: "Menopause Out Loud". Has it made it to Britain yet? If so, I would recommend it to any woman over 45. I have never, ever, laughed so much!

Andy J. Latham said...

Sounds like a great show Brian!

I read a really good series of blog posts about what is required in order to make a good film, and the argument was that the idea of "story is king" may not be quite right, and in fact story may not even be a requirement. I guess if a film (or appropriately here, a musical) is rich enough in it's other factors, then story may be less important than it seems.

scb said...

This sounds wonderful! I will definitely be tuning in via iPlayer!

Thanks for the heads-up! (And now I'll be singing "One Singular Sensation" all day. Too bad I don't know all the words! ;-)

exylicom A communication that leaves one feeling quite exhilerated. (Thank you!)

scb said...

Not a comment on this post -- just a way of communicating with you: I've just set up a blog/website to talk about my writing. Feel free to drop by! http://www.elizabethannewrites.com

Raymond Huber said...

Great idea for a series! My own favourites: 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Horse Feathers, all Fred and Ginger.

scb said...

Bravo! I've just listened to "Stories with Songs" -- it was excellent. Thanks to BBC iPlayer I'll listen to it again before the week is out, then eagerly look forward to the next part of the series.

Thank you!

Brian Sibley said...

Raymond – The programmes are devoted to stage musicals rather than film musicals –– the later would make a series of its own! Then I'd certainly have to include one my top favourites: Fred the Great in Royal Wedding – the 'dancing on the ceiling' sequence is still fantastic!

SCB – Thank you!! :)

SharonM said...

Got to hear it at last (somewhat distracted by Rosh Hashanah past few days). Great start to the series - looking forward to hearing the next instalment.

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, Sharon, and here's wishing you a happy new year!