Last night Opening Night had the absolute pleasure to be part of the 12,000 strong audience at the AO Arena in Manchester watching The National Lottery’s Big Night of Musicals – a celebration of all that’s brilliant about the British musical theatre scene.
Returning for 2023, the show was once again hosted by North West favourite Jason Manford, and featured amazing performances from 13 shows currently in (or heading for) the West End or touring.
Our particular favourite moments including the hugely exciting appearance of the West End cast of Hamilton performing ‘My Shot’ for the first time ever on television, a gorgeous medley from Matilda that including the joyous Revolting Children, Laura Pick’s epic rendition of Defying Gravity from Wicked and a goosebump-inducing solo performance of I Will Always Love You from The Bodyguard by Melody Thornton.
We also loved seeing the iconic Brenda Edwards strut her stuff again as Killer Queen alongside the cast of We Will Rock You, a rousing dance number from Disney’s Newsies and a trip to the Haus of Holbein with the cast of SIX.
Other highlights included former Strictly Pro Joanna Clifton’s debut as Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical, Call the Midwife star Helen George’s lovely vocals in Shall We Dance (alongside Broadway star Darren Lee) from The King and I and a confetti-filled finale from Mamma Mia.
The evening certainly gave a great taster for some of the musicals showcased that are heading to Manchester in the not so distant future – like Hamilton, The Bodyguard, The King & I and Wicked.
But it wasn’t just the stars on stage that were celebrated – some of the evening’s most touching moments were when the spotlight was shone on the theatre work being done in our communities – and the unsung heroes who make it all happen – aided by vital financial support from the National Lottery.
The National Lottery’s Big Night of Musicals, served as a massive thank you to National Lottery players who have helped tens of thousands of arts projects across the UK and supported over 2,000 theatres through the Covid crisis.
The 90-minute show will be broadcast on BBC One and BBC Radio 2 in March – date TBC. It’s definitely not to be missed if you love your musicals and theatre. Here at Opening Night we are already looking forward to watching it again!