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Stephen Fry announced as special guest narrator for BBC World Service ‘U.Me: The Musical’

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London, 30 March 2021: The BBC today announced the cast for the global premiere of ‘U.Me: The Musical’ to be broadcast on 12 May 2021 at 8pm on BBC World Service. Stephen Fry will be the very special guest narrator along with two young lead actors Anoushka Lucas and Martin Sarreal and a wider cast including students from Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA).

‘U.Me: The Musical’ is an international love story staged for radio and podcast, based around two young people on opposite sides of the world who meet online and make a true connection. With the global premiere on BBC World Service, the casting by Will Burton (Casting Director for the likes of ‘Matilda’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’) reflects the truly international story. Anoushka Lucas is a singer, songwriter, composer, actor and theatre maker who was raised in London to a French-Cameroonian mother and an Anglo-Indian father. Martin Sarreal is an East Asian actor and filmmaker now based in London.

The wider cast features Nicole Deon and Kevin Shen as Alyssa and Kenji and students from the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA), which was founded by Paul McCartney. Several of the students were taught by the show’s music producer Steve Levine himself and have used their talents in ‘U.Me: The Musical’.

Special guest narrator Stephen Fry has provided a beautifully moving introduction to the musical. He comments: “Many of our story tellers were cut off from income streams during the pandemic, but leaving themselves vulnerable in every way is something they’re used to. Many have continued to create, unpaid and in isolation, documenting these extraordinary times so that we and those that come after would be able to understand this moment in a way that is truthful, universal and profound.”

London-based Anoushka Lucas is cast in the role of Rose after showcasing her acting talents in the likes of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. Much as Stephen Fry described, Anoushka has used the pandemic to create. She says: “I’ve settled into such a lovely routine of writing music, teaching and being involved in various creative projects. I feel considerably more connected to my creativity than I did a year ago: I’ve had so much space to reflect on the music and stories I want to make.”

Martin Sarreal takes role of Ryo, a Japanese-American living in Kyoto. Having worked with Theo Jamieson (music and lyrics) before on the National Theatre’s ‘Here Lies Love’, Martin was well and truly ready to throw himself into the role of Ryo. His lockdown life lessons are: “Make the best of every moment with the people you love, be kind to one another and there’s always a light at the end of every tunnel.”

Bringing together an incredible team, ‘U.Me: The Musical’ is a regional UK production for UK and international audiences on BBC World Service and will feature words and music by Theo Jamieson (previously music director for ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ and ‘Here Lies Love’), music production by Liverpool based Steve Levine (famed for his work with Culture Club, The Clash and The Beach Boys) and casting by Will Burton (who was also Casting Director for the likes of ‘Matilda’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’). The book is written by Simon Pitts and Theo Jamieson and commissioned by Simon Pitts, BBC World Service.

A cultural response to a unique global collective experience, the musical will not only offer the upsides of a good musical for listeners: hope, joy and consolation, but will also employ and support British creatives: singers, musicians, mix engineers, orchestrators and so on in a sector with reduced opportunities for work. The musical will feature contemporary musicians as well as the BBC Philharmonic with over 60 musicians across the North West of England, all recording their parts remotely due to the pandemic restrictions, to be mixed by Steve Levine in his Liverpool studio.

The musical is a broadcast hour and will have its World Premiere at 8pm BST on 12 May 2021 on BBC World Service and will be chapterised for podcast on BBC Sounds with Chapter 1 available on 10 May 2021.