About the Event
BBC Radio 2 invite you to an evening of greatest hits from the world of musical theatre. Ed Balls presents as Bramwell Tovey conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra and special guests Ben Forster and Hannah Waddingham in a selection of show tunes from the pens of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jerry Herman, Lerner and Loewe, Frank Loesser, Stephen Sondheim and many more.
Friday Night is Music Night was first broadcast in 1953. Its brief was ‘to create a Friday-night show which would help people relax after the week’s hard work and put them in the right mood for a happy weekend’. This heady mix of popular works, film music and songs from the shows has entertained millions of audiences across the globe.
BBC Concert Orchestra
Bramwell Tovey conductor
About the Artists
Ben Forster grew up in the UK city of Sunderland in the mid 1980’s. At the age of 16, this real-life Billy Elliot won a scholarship to attend the Italia Conti Performing Arts Academy. Ben’s transition from Sunderland schoolboy to the theatre world of London was captured in a successful prime time BBC1 documentary, ‘The Dream Academy’.
Since debuting in his first West End musical at the age of eighteen – La Cava, created by the Broccoli family of James Bond fame, Ben has had a successful theatre career. He has performed in numerous shows including Grease in the West End and international tour, Lennon and McCartney’s All You Need is Love and was part of the original cast of the hugely successful West End production, Thriller Live, taking the show from London onto international tours.
Ben shot to fame in 2012 after winning the ITV1 show, ‘Superstar’ – Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s TV talent search for Jesus in the rock arena musical, Jesus Christ Superstar. Ben competed against thousands and performed live to millions throughout the series. His talent and loveable personality won the hearts of the British public, who selected him to go on to win the coveted role and star alongside Spice Girl Melanie C, Tim Minchin and Chris Moyles, in a spectacular arena tour of the UK. Owing to the huge success of the production, Universal Pictures produced a movie version of the show which played in cinemas across the world, became a best-selling DVD and was shown on British television. In 2013 the show toured Australia, before Ben then returned back to the UK with the show, winning critical acclaim once more for his portrayal of the role. In between these tours Ben starred as Brad Majors in the reinvented 40th Anniversary production of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show for which he achieved rave reviews. Ben has also produced two acoustic albums, which have won him international acclaim and established him as a successful recording artist.
During 2014, Ben returned to the West End to guest star in the role of Magaldi in the hit musical Evita alongside Marti Pellow for its run at the Dominion Theatre. He returned to the West End stage reprising his role as Brad Majors in the special celebrity run of The Rocky Horror Show, alongside the creator and theatrical legend Richard O’Brien. The show was viewed by thousands after being broadcast live from the Playhouse Theatre to cinemas all over Europe.
In 2015 Ben assumed the leading role of Buddy the Elf in Elf The Musical. Elf ran at the Dominion Theatre over the Christmas period and Ben has garnered considerable critical acclaim for his performance as Buddy and was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical at the What’s on Stage Awards.
In February 2016 Ben stared as the title role of the “Phantom”, in “The Phantom of the Opera” in London’s West End for, leading the show in its 30th anniversary year to an Olivier Award and 5-star reviews.
In 2017 Ben took his own one man show to Japan and performed to sell out audiences. He reprised his role of Buddy the Elf in Elf the Musical which was also shown on Channel 5. Most recently he starred in a workshop of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Unmasked, based on the composer and theatre institution’s life.
Hannah Waddingham has just finished filming season 2 of the Warner Bros hit series Krypton for E4/SyFy and can currently be seen in Sex Education on Netflix. She is probably best known on screen, however, as Septa Unella, the Shame nun, in HBO’s hit series Game Of Thrones. Hannah appeared as Magdalena in series 3 of NBC’s 12 Monkeys for SyFy and played Dr. Stone in Kay Mellor’s prime time BBC drama In The Club. She starred in BBC 2’s The Entire Universe alongside Eric Idle, Warwick Davis, Noel Fielding and Prof. Brian Cox, which also aired on PBS in America and will appear in the feature The Hustle with Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson that is due for release this summer.
Her other television work includes Jack Dee’s Bad Move, ,Josh, Partners in Crime, Benidorm, Miss Marple-The Mirror Crack’d, Not Going Out, My Family, to name but a few and her film work includes Les Miserables and How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. Hannah also appeared in Meet Pursuit Delange that premiered at the Raindance Film Festival 2016 in London.
As well as her extensive film and television work, Hannah has a wealth of experience in theatre and is most known for her contribution to West End musical theatre over the last twenty years with three Olivier nominations for her roles in Kiss Me Kate as Kate/Lilli Vanessi (Old Vic/Dir. Trevor Nunn), A Little Night Music as Desiree Armfeldt (Garrick & Menier Chocolate Factory/Dir. Trevor Nunn) and Monty Python’s Spamalot as The Lady of The Lake (Palace Theatre/Dir. Mike Nicholls) for which she won the Broadway.com Award for Best Newcomer when she reprised the role at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway. She also won the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Supporting actress in a Musical as The Wicked Witch of The West in The Wizard of Oz (London Palladium/Dir. Jeremy Samms).
Other theatre work includes The Witch in Into The Woods (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Madame Pinglet in A Little Hotel on The Side (Theatre Royal Bath), Fay Hubbard in A Chorus of Disapproval (Clwyd Theatr Cymru), Satan in Tonight’s the Night and Rizzo in Grease (Victoria Palace Theatre), Christine Warner in The Beautiful Game (Cambridge Theatre. Critics’ Circle Award nomination), Suzanne Valadon in Lautrec (Shaftesbury Theatre. Awards for Best Actress in a Musical and Best Newcomer), Shimmy Girl in Smokey Joe’s Café (UK tour), Chesty Prospects in Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens (Queen’s Theatre).