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Musicals take centre stage in new C4 documentary

A scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was criticised for its unmemorable music. Photo: Helen Maybanks
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Musicals including The Bodyguard, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Top Hat are being lined up to feature in a new behind-the-scenes documentary programme to be broadcast on Channel 4.

The series, which is due to be broadcast at the end of the year, is being made by Jamie Oliver’s production company, Fresh One, and was commissioned by Channel 4’s arts editor Tabitha Jackson. Arlene Phillips is an executive producer.

Currently in production under the working title The Musicals, it is expected to reveal how a show is mounted and run, and will cover all the important steps including auditions, rehearsals and opening night.

As well as big-budget West End offerings, the series – understood to be in four parts – is expected to feature larger regional productions such as Barnum at the Chichester Festival Theatre, as well as touring shows.

Earlier this month, the producers filmed open auditions for the forthcoming touring production of Happy Days, which is being produced by Amy Anzel and directed by Andrew Wright.

Anzel told The Stage: “I think it’s important that the public sees what goes on behind the scenes as reality talent shows make it seem a bit glamorous and shiny, and that is the complete opposite of what this business is like. Musical theatre performers are the hardest working people in the business. You have to be extremely disciplined and hard-working, and it’s rare that someone just comes out of the woodwork. There’s usually years of hard work and training behind them and lots of disappointment, which usually continues to drive them.”

She added: “My journey getting Happy Days up and running over the past four years has been full of blood, sweat and tears and I thought it would be amazing to share that with the public.”

A spokeswoman for Channel 4 confirmed that production was going ahead, but stressed it had not yet been decided which shows would appear in the final series.

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