Big Night Of Musicals is a must for all fans of stage musicals. These amazing shows can take us into a magical world of storytelling, song and dance, and BBC1's one-off celebration on January 29 has 14 of the best productions on at the moment giving special performances.
For one night only and hosted by Jason Manford, The National Lottery is bringing together 14 of the biggest shows in musical theatre currently being shown on London's West End stages, including Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Beauty and the Beast The Musical, Back to the Future and Disney’s The Lion King and FROZEN. Filmed at Manchester’s AO Arena, the mood-lifting spectacular is a thank you to lottery players who helped National Lottery Funding support theatres with £228m for the arts during the pandemic. Performers in Big Night Of Musicals include Beverley Knight, Samantha Barks, Chelsea Halfpenny, Keala Settle, Arinze Kene and Aisha Jawando.
Jason Manford says: "The pandemic hit the industry hard – it’s been a struggle for theatres and those working in them. Lottery money was able to help."
Jason is thrilled to be singing the big night too, especially as he opens the show with his very own jazz hands performance! "It would be silly not to, given there’s a live orchestra!" grins Jason, 40, no stranger to treading the boards himself having appeared in shows such as Sweeney Todd, The Producers, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. "I’ll open with a song and dance — a bit of the old razzle-dazzle — and then let the professionals get on with it!"
So here's our exclusive guide to everything you need to know about Big Night Of Musicals on BBC1...
'Big Night Of Musicals' release date
The air date for Big Night Of Musicals is Saturday Jan. 29 at 7pm on BBC1. The show will then become available on streaming service BBCiPlayer shortly afterwards.
Jason reveals what to expect in 'Big Night of Musicals'
A big fan of musical theatre, the comedian, actor and TV presenter Jason says he’s looking forward to catching songs from musicals he’s yet to see, such as Dear Evan Hansen and Waitress.
"We’ve got all the heavy hitters from the West End, touring productions and regional theatres, it’s a great mix,’ says Jason. "It’s a great mix. The perfect night really — you don’t have to watch the whole show, just wait for the bangers!
"Everything is a challenge! Bringing 14 musicals together for one night is absolutely crazy. Can you imagine each cast trying to get off the stage in costume, with the sets and lighting to change? I’m glad that’s not part of my job – I’ve just got to fill the time in between!"
Jason Manford on how his love of musical theatre began
Jason says: "Ever since I saw my first production, Sweeney Todd, at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. I was 13, on a school trip and thought musical theatre was amazing. I never dreamed it was something I could do, though. It didn’t seem possible for a working-class lad, but I enjoyed being part of shows at school and college, and set up a theatre society at my university [the University of Salford]. I worked hard, met the right people and suddenly I was in the West End [Jason played Italian barber Pirelli in Sweeney Todd at London’s Adelphi Theatre in 2012, opposite Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton]! It was the first musical I saw and first one I starred in, so it’ll always be special."
Is there a trailer for 'Big Night Of Musicals'?
Yes! Here's is Jason Manford talking about what we can expect from the Big Night of Musicals show this weekend. "There's banger after banger after banger!" he says. Take a peek below....
The 14 shows in 'Big Night Of Musicals'
Here's every one of the 14 shows performing in Big Night Of Musicals...
* The Lion King
* Back To The Future
* Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
* Dear Evan Hansen
* Bat Out Of Hell - The Musical
* & Juliet
* The Wiz
* Andrew Lloyd Webber's School of Rock
* Beauty And The Beast The Musical
* The Drifters' Girl
* Get Up Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.