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I always find it surprising as to the diversity of Radio 2, the schedule on any given night could contain a short half hour program about Folk music and another night a program about Theatre organs can be heard, I have listened to both and realised there is more to life than listening to such stations as Happy FM (or Capital) that tend to play the same record over and over again every two hours. Besdes these stations appear to be aimed at someone about 15 years younger than myself anyway.
Radio 2 on the other hand caters for people of my age and boy they certainly deliver, I always tend to be in the car coming home or going somewhere when Elaine Paige is broadcasting. Sometimes the journey can be from hell at worst and other times just damn right boring. So to experience the diversity that Radio 2 offer on a Sunday is a bonus and makes the journey just that little more bearable.
Presenter Elaine Paige is a star in her own right and has won numerous awards from her appearances in hit shows such as Cats, Chess as well as Jesus Christ Superstar, so in my humble opinion a show about musicals, film and theatre has probably the best host it can get to front a very energetic production. Naturally the show is all about the music from whatever medium and this is obviously the focal point. The music that is played is always balanced and never in your face. For example the opening song from the Broadway production of Sunset Boulevard could be played before the Imperial Death March from Star Wars; such is the mix of music that is played. Recently there have been an increase in music from the movies being played and in my mind this has opened up the show to a new audience and this is what got me hooked as well.
An extremely good example of the varied scope of music that is aired was was last Sunday's show; towards the end the song Send in The Clowns was played. Yet I thought I recognised the singer but couldn't be sure. It turned out to be Judi Dench! A couple of songs later Elvis was singing Jailhouse Rock. The mix of music they play isn't strange at all just to some this could be considered ecclectic, when listening you just accept what is being played and listen to it. It is quite easy to get pulled into it as well as you do start to sing the word or hum the more well known songs too. In this show it isn't at all strange to listen to Madonna performing the signature tune from Evita, followed up by Harry Secombe performing a song from Oliver. If this was show on Capital FM or Heart then it would be, but here it is pitched at the correct level and is totally spot on.
Of course for a show that runs for 90 minutes you can't have non-stop music. Throughout the show there are interviews with performers from new and upcoming shows to renowned to renowned actors and actresses who have played in the theatre for years and are more well known to theatre goers than say cinema goers for what they do. A good example is John Barrowman who fits into the category nicely, who through Doctor Who and Torchwood has managed to bridge the gap between television and theatre. In a recent interview he said that people he meets after at the Stage Door only came to see him because he is Captain Jack! He also said it's funny to see these people of all ages come back again because they enjoyed the experience so much the first time. From this interview my other half suggested we go and see a show and naturally she chose which one, we booked to see Jersey Boys in the West End and go a the end of March. Looking forward to it immensely as the last show we saw together was The Rat Pack some two years ago.
This attitude is also championed by Paige as there is a number of segments throughout the show that voice mails are played that advertise local productions of amateur groups that have produced a show. So in about a 20 second window you have someone like Verity from Sevenoaks telling everyone about the stage production of Joseph and where it's being performed. Personally I like the fact that this is done as it gives the opportunity for people to find out about local productions, and yes I am happy to put my hand up to that as well to that statement. Quite appropriately the section is called Break-A- Leg. It is dome in a very professional manner, although the show is energetic, it is never in your face and never crosses the line at all.
There are also competitions held that have a varied range of prizes from two tickets to a show of your choice to a Theatre weekend in London fully paid. Sometimes it is just Theatre Vouchers that are won as the bigger prizes are kept for times of the year such as Valentines Day or Christmas.
It is also Paige's bubbly personality that comes across well when listening; she has an amazing knowledge of Directors and Producers, I suspect this is mainly due to the fact that she has previously worked with a number of the guests that appear on the show a number of times, but always manages to bring the best of them out when interviewed. You also get the impression that she is immensely enjoying what she is doing as well as she tends to speak to her Producer between the songs. Her Producer is Malcolm Prince, who has great chemistry with her and even gets to choose a record throughout the show under the section Malcolm's Big One! This is usually in the final part of the show where a big end of show number is played to finish on.
Newcomers to the show are catered, if not welcomed, for as well as Paige gives the details of all the songs after they've been played and on occasion reminisces about either working on the show or knowing the people that were there as performers or working back stage. These stories are enjoyable to listen to and provide an aspect of a person's life that is truly something that only a person who has experienced that moment can share.
Overall this show does a lot to sell the experience of going to the Theatre to see a stage musical or show and it does this by bringing the music and performers to you. From the interviews you really get an impression of the amount of work that hoes into a stage or film production with getting the lighting, sound, costumes and everything else to the right place at the right time and most importantly on the right person. It does sell the medium of musicals and stage shows, but does it in a manner that is interesting and actually quite curious. By the end of the broadcast you do tend to feel a spring in your step just by listening to the show and does add a unique bounce the rest of your Sunday. This show is a fully breathing, dimensional production that has something to offer everyone as the chances are that you'll know most of the music being played anyway.
Elaine Paige broadcasts from 1300 to 1430 on a Sunday afternoon and is an absolute pleasure to listen to. Exceptionally better when there is nothing to watch on the TV, which in all honesty really covers most times of the day and night. If you mss the show you can also listen on-line via the BBC iPlayer. A great way to spend 90 minutes.