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This May sees the centenary of the birth of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, and 60 years since the first radio broadcast of his most famous creation; the scabrous, brilliant “play for voices” Under Milk Wood. To commemorate his life and work, BBC Wales have announced a new all-star version, bringing in some of the most famous Welsh performers—from the worlds of music and theater—to lend a hand.
Michael Sheen and Sir Tom Jones have already signed up, alongside Katherine Jenkins (playing Polly Garter) and Charlotte Church (Mrs. Ogmore Pritchard).
Then there’s Jonathan Pryce and Sian Phillips as the unhappy Mr. and Mrs. Pugh, Ioan Gruffudd as Mog Edwards and Bryn Terfel (the fourth international singing star in the cast) as Rev Eli Jenkins. Sir Tom is playing Captain Cat.
The First Voice/Second Voice narrator role will be a group responsibility, taken by Michael, as well as Matthew Rhys, Griff Rhys Jones and John Rhys Davies.
Locations will include prominent places in which the play was put together, including west Wales, and some of Dylan’s favorite bars in New York.
Speaking to BBC News about the production, Katherine Jenkins said: “It was wonderful to be involved in a project celebrating such a great Welshman.
“It’s also been such a joy to collaborate with so many other Welsh artists whom I respect and admire. I hope the results are a fitting tribute.”
Under Milk Wood is an account of the various residents of a fictional Welsh fishing village called Llareggub (and it would be entirely remiss not to point out that Llareggub is so called because it is “bugger-all” backwards).
Here’s a clip of that first broadcast from 1954, featuring Richard Burton as First Voice:
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See more posts by Fraser McAlpine
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic