Radio comes alive with the sound of musicals

A new station plans to play just showtunes, with its presenters drawn from the cream of London’s talent

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The Independent Culture

It may not quite recreate the atmosphere of a full West End production, but at least fans won’t have to make a coach trip to London to hear the top stage talent. A radio station playing exclusively musical theatre tunes and presented by actors from leading shows is to launch later this year, it has been announced.

Ramin Karimloo, who has starred in productions of Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables, will present a programme for Stage Door. Hadley Fraser and Kerry Ellis will also work for the station.

Simon Willis, one of the men behind the project, said successful television shows based on West End theatre, such as the BBC’s How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? had paved the way for the new venture.

Mr Willis is the head of content at the independent production company Wise Buddah, which is setting up the station with the Mothership Management talent agency. He said that he enjoys West End shows himself, as well as productions in theatres outside London.

But he added: “I hope [the radio station] fills the gap between putting on a CD I have heard a million times and booking to go to London to see the full experience of a show.

“We were trying to create a production that was ‘inside-out’ – by that I mean people inside the industry presenting shows to people who are outside of it. If a presenter was onstage last night and had a bad show, I’d like to hear about that – not just have a DJ playing songs.”

Entertainment newspaper The Stage, which first reported the news, said that other presenters will include Louise Dearman, Alex Gaumond, Mark Evans, Louise Bowden and Oliver Tompsett.

Fans of musical theatre have been asked to help raise the funds to run the station through pledges; the magazine quoted producers as saying the fans would “have a voice in deciding what content they want to hear”.

People pledging enough money are also being offered the chance of two-hour lessons with some of the presenters, as well as the opportunity to record something to be played on the station once it is up and running in November.

Rebecca Sichel-Coates , director of Mothership Management, said: “We’ve had an overwhelming level of support already, from performers to producers to fans. We feel Stage Door can become the number one place for fans to listen to music and get closer to musical theatre, as presented by their favourite stars and people in the know.”

Alex Gaumond said he was “looking forward to taking the world of musical theatre to a wider audience”.