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Jason Manford to host arena show celebrating West End musicals

Jason Manford (Yui Mok/PA)
Jason Manford (Yui Mok/PA)

Jason Manford will host an arena show featuring some of the biggest West End musicals as part of a BBC One special.

Big Night Of Musicals at the AO Arena in Manchester will feature performances from the casts of Frozen, The Lion King, Back To The Future, The Drifters and Dear Evan Hansen.

There will also be performances from touring shows including Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School Of Rock, Bat Out Of Hell and Dreamgirls – plus a Disney medley from the cast of Beauty And The Beast.

London theatres
(Luciana Guerra/PA)

Comedian and presenter Manford, 40, will host the night, on January 24, as a thank you to National Lottery players, who have helped to support the arts during the pandemic.

More than 2,000 theatres have received support through the lottery, with a total of £228 million going to the culture sector.

National Lottery also said “thousands of tickets” are being made available to the grassroots arts organisations it supports from the North West.

The 90-minute show will air on BBC One on January 29, with a radio version broadcast on BBC Radio 2 the following day.

Kate Phillips, director of entertainment at the BBC, said: “We are delighted to bring a great night of contemporary musicals that the entire family can enjoy into viewers homes, showcasing the world class talent that British theatre is known for.”

Head of Radio 2 Helen Thomas said: “Following Radio 2’s award-winning Musicals: The Greatest Show which was also broadcast on BBC One in February 2021, I’m thrilled to be delighting our musical-loving listeners once again with this fantastic new show – just what we need to lift our spirits during a cold January.”

It comes after a string of cancelled theatre performances, with The Lion King and Life Of Pi among the West End shows having to dim their lights due to Covid-enforced staff shortages over the lucrative Christmas period.

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