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Singular Sensations - Up Close and Personal with the Stars of Musical Theatre

Kerry Ellis

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

EDWARD Seckerson, formerly the presenter of BBC Radio 3’s long-running musical theatre show Stage and 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 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 talented artists’ careers and uncovering insights into their working process.

Kerry Ellis (September 15), Howard Goodall (October 6), Janie Dee (November 10, 2013) and Jenna Russell (January 26, 2014) will all perform live, while John Wilson (December 8) and Patricia Routledge (January 19, 2014) will share favourite or treasured recordings.

Kerry Ellis amassed a legion of fans when she went “green” playing Elphaba in Stephen Schwartz’ hit musical Wicked both in London and on Broadway. But her pre-eminence as a musical theatre star/rock-chick was secured earlier still when Brian May, the celebrated lead guitarist of Queen, asked her to play Meat in the Queen/Ben Elton show We Will Rock You.

Since then, Ellis has toured extensively with May and their second album together, Acoustic By Candlelight, has recently been released.

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 such as The Vicar of Dibley, Blackadder and Red Dwarf. As a TV presenter, his recent BBC 2 series and its accompanying book, The Story of Music, was well received 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 is a two-time Olivier Award winner, whose 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 in Herman’s Hello Dolly. She’s an accomplished cabaret artist with a growing repertoire of material.

John Wilson and the orchestra which bears his name created a sensation at the 2009 Proms with their celebration of 75 years of MGM musicals. 3.5 million people watched the relay live; countless more all over the world will relive the experience on DVD. Wilson has made a speciality of restoring and recreating great movie scores and presenting them in concert halls up and down the UK. A Wilson Prom is now a yearly event and this year he and the orchestra are showcasing their MGM tribute in Hollywood itself.

Patricia Routledge, the popular TV actress, has also enjoyed an award-winning career in drama and musical theatre. Known to millions as the pretentious Hyacinth Bucket (“It’s pronounced Bouquet”) in the BBC TV sit-com Keeping Up Appearances, Routledge is also one of our finest stage actresses, with a 60-year career that has seen her playing everything from Shakespeare to musical theatre.

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 the highly acclaimed production of Carousel at the National Theatre and has made occasional forays into operetta.

Jenna Russell recently wowed West End audiences with her heartbreaking 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.

Her other theatre credits include Young Sally in the 1987 London staging of Follies (Shaftesbury Theatre); 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; Bertrande in Boublil and Schönberg’s much-revamped Martin Guerre and Sarah Brown in Michael Grandage’s 2005 revival of Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls. On TV, she will be familiar to many as Deborah Gilder in Born and Bred.

Tickets: £17.50 – available from the box office on 08444 930 650 or online at www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk/.

Time: 3pm.

Gill Adams’ Keeler runs at Charing Cross Theatre from October 31 to December 14, 2013.