Friday Night Is Music Night

Friday 22 January

8.00pm-10.00pm

BBC RADIO 2

Friday Night Is Music Night celebrates the success of musicals at the Chichester Festival Theatre over the last 30 years. Ken Bruce presents this musical feast live from the Chichester Festival Theatre with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by its Principal Conductor, Keith Lockhart.

This special programme features musical star Michael Ball, who played the lead role in the 2011 production of Sweeney Todd (he later won the prestigious Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2013 for this performance at the Adelphi Theatre) and Mack in Mack And Mabel earlier this year – both at the Chichester Festival Theatre.

To close the show, FNIMN presents a medley of songs from one of Chichester's earliest musicals, Underneath The Arches. The production told the story of two much-loved British entertainers, Flanagan and Allen, and the duo’s work with a group of comedians known collectively as The Crazy Gang. For this segment, FNIMN reunites two cast members from the original 1981 production – Roy Hudd as Bud Flanagan and Christopher Timothy as Chesney Allen – and will feature the songs Strollin', Hometown, Hey Neighbour, and Underneath The Arches.

The Chichester Festival Theatre was founded in 1962 by local optician and mayor, Leslie Evershed-Martin, who managed to persuade Sir Laurence Olivier to be the theatre’s inaugural artistic director. The theatre was the first of its kind to be opened in the UK for 500 years, because there’s no proscenium arch or red velvet curtain at Chichester, the stage is thrust into the centre of the audience and is reminiscent of Greek, Roman and Elizabethan theatre with vomitaria or "voms" – alleys which are built under the tiered seating to allow the performers and audience to enter and exit the auditorium.

Though originally opened as a theatre for plays, the venue now has an unrivalled reputation for producing musicals. The first musical production was performed at the theatre in 1981 with The Mitford Girls by Caryl Brahms and Ned Sherrin. Since then, Chichester has taken on musical blockbusters including Babes In Arms, 42nd Street, Singing In The Rain, Carousel, Guys And Dolls, Barnum, The Music Man and Gypsy – the list features many hit shows which subsequently transferred to London's West End.

Presenter/Ken Bruce, Producer/ Bridget Apps for the BBC

BBC Radio 2 Publicity