An Idina Menzel treat and how BBC1’s The Voice helps theatre…

Danny O'Donoghue, who was formerly part of BBC1 show The Voice.
Matthew Hemley
Matt is news editor for The Stage, having started as the newspaper’s broadcast reporter. He covers all areas of the industry in his role, but has a particular interest in musical theatre. Matt studied acting at Bretton Hall and presents a monthly theatre news round up on BBC London Radio.
by -

I’m not a fan of BBC1 series The Voice – for a number of reasons. One of these, as I’ve written about before, is the fact that former judge Danny O’Donoghue often criticised contestants for being too “musical theatre”.  How very dare he! I’ve not been able to hear the show spoken of since without hissing like a man possessed.

But all that may be about to change. As I have discovered that the show does have some value. I know this is hard to believe – but hear me out. Because the series has been helping genuine talent to succeed up and down the country. And I am not talking about its contestants.

I am talking about the theatre sector. Because money raised through the public voting on the show is ploughed into the BBC Performing Arts Fund, which this year has used its revenue to help the sector with two schemes. Under these £430,000 has been given to the theatre industry.

The first scheme is called Theatre Fellowships, which has given 20 UK venues the chance to host a fellow – helping people like producers, directors and writers at the start of their career. Each venue receives £10,000  – with this year’s theatres including the Bristol Old Vic and the Royal Exchange in Manchester.

The second scheme is called Community Theatre Grants, which is aimed at helping non-professional groups build audiences, attract new members or work with professionals, such as a choreographer or director. More than 50 groups have received money, which can be as much as £5,000.

So, as much as I can’t sit through an episode of The Voice (all that chair swiveling just makes me dizzy), you have to be glad it exists purely for the fact money raised through its voting helps to support such projects.

I know it’s not related, but…

I saw the new Disney film Frozen the other day. I don’t make a habit of seeing children’s films, but I was intrigued by the fact it makes use of musical theatre talent such as Idina Menzel and Josh Gad. Not only that but the film’s music has been written by Robert Lopez, who co-wrote the musical The Book of Mormon.

And I have to say, the film  - based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen – is a joy. Utterly charming. And if you’re a musical theatre fan like me, you will love it. But don’t take my word for it – have a sneak peek at one of the songs below. It’s Idina Menzel singing the powerful Let It Go. Enjoy!