Edward Seckerson – formerly the presenter of BBC Radio 3’s long-running musical theatre show Stage & Screen – is to host Singular Sensations, a series of in-depth encounters with stars of musical theatre at London’s Charing Cross Theatre.
This winter’s inaugural season of intimate sessions will become a regular Sunday afternoon fixture for musical theatre enthusiasts. Through a mix of chat, recordings, and live performance, Seckerson will be tracing these artists’ careers and uncovering insights into their working processes. Kerry Ellis, Howard Goodall, Janie Dee and Jenna Russell will all perform live. John Wilson and Patricia Routledge will share favourite or treasured recordings. The season begins with Ellis on 15 September (performances are at 3pm).
Here is a summary of the season:
Kerry Ellis (15 September)
Kerry Ellis amassed a legion of adoring fans when she went ‘green’ playing Elphaba in Stephen Schwartz’s hit musical Wicked both in London and on Broadway. Her pre-eminence as a musical-theatre-diva-cum-rock-chick was secured earlier though when Brian May, the celebrated lead guitarist of Queen, asked her to play Meat in the Queen/Ben Elton show We Will Rock You.
Howard Goodall (6 October)
Howard Goodall is an award-winning composer of musicals – including the iconic The Hired Man and more recently Love Story – as well as choral and TV music including The Vicar of Dibley, Blackadder and Red Dwarf. As a TV presenter his recent BBC2 series and its accompanying book The Story of Music made waves and he can be heard as both presenter and composer-in-residence on Classic FM. In 2009 he was named Composer of the Year at the Classical BRIT Awards.
Janie Dee (10 November)
Janie Dee is a two-time Olivier Award winner and regarded as one of the most versatile talents on the English stage. Her work in musical theatre has ranged from Nicholas Hytner’s celebrated production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel at the National Theatre (which brought her first Olivier) to Jerry Herman’s Mack and Mabel with David Soul and her highly praised Dolly Levi in the Leicester Curve production of Herman’s Hello, Dolly!
John Wilson (8 December)
John Wilson and the orchestra which bears his name created a sensation at the 2009 Proms with a celebration of 75 years of MGM musicals. More than three million people watched the relay live and countless more worldwide relived the experience on DVD. Wilson has made a speciality of restoring and re-creating great movie scores and presenting them in all their glory in concert halls up and down the UK. A Wilson Prom is now an annual event.
Patricia Routledge (19 January 2014)
Popular TV actress Patricia Routledge has enjoyed an award-winning career in drama and musical theatre in additon to being known to millions as the pretentious Hyacinth Bucket (“It’s pronounced Bouquet”) in the BBC TV sitcom Keeping Up Appearances. Her 60-year career has seen her playing everything from Shakespeare to musical theatre. Indeed her CV is positively bulging with roles in which her training as a classical singer has come to the fore. Her many awards include a Tony for her Broadway performance in the Styne-Harburg musical Darling of the Day and an Olivier Award for Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. She also played Nettie Fowler in Carousel at the National Theatre and has made occasional forays into operetta.
Jenna Russell (26 January 2014)
Jenna Russell recently wowed West End audiences with her performance as Mary Flynn in Maria Friedman’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along. As Dot in Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park With George (also originating at the Menier Chocolate Factory) she won the 2007 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical and was Drama Desk and Tony nominated for her performance in New York. Indeed Sondheim has been a calling card throughout her career, starting with Young Sally in the 1987 London staging of Follies at the Shaftesbury Theatre and progressing to Into the Woods in which she appeared twice – as Cinderella in the 1998 Donmar Warehouse production, and as the Baker’s Wife in Tim Sheader’s 2010 Regent’s Park staging.
Host Edward Seckerson is formerly chief classical music critic of The Independent. He is a writer, broadcaster, podcaster and musical theatre obsessive. He wrote and presented the long-running BBC Radio 3 series Stage & Screen, in which he interviewed many of the biggest names in the business – among them Julie Andrews, Angela Lansbury, Liza Minnelli, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. He appears regularly on BBC Radios 3 and 4 and presented the 2007 series of the musical quiz Counterpoint. Seckerson conducted one of the last major interviews with Leonard Bernstein and his audio podcast Sondheim – In Good Company proved a significant contribution to Sondheim’s 80th birthday year. He is currently touring with Patricia Routledge in Facing the Music, a show chronicling her little-known career in musical theatre.