The British Light Entertainment scene is believed to be unique in encompassing endless outlets of talent under one umbrella. Yet the role that music plays in the popularity and longevity of such an art is sometimes forgotten or overlooked by the dominance of Comedy and Variety within the public eye. However, for almost forty years,
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After graduating from the Trinity College of Music and Drama in 1979, Mike landed a production role on the nationwide tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, before working on a long line of West End triumphs during the 1980’s. Then in 1989 Mike was approached to become musical director for an Andrew Lloyd Webber medley for the Royal Variety Performance. This began a long association between Mike and the Royal Variety and in 1993 he was promoted to MD for the whole show. In doing this, Mike has got to work with the cream of global entertainment including: Diana Ross, Cilla Black and The Muppets. In his own words “Where else would you be able to work with so many different stars and so many different styles of music?” At the 2005 Royal Variety, Mike met the legendary Dame Shirley Bassey and thus began a very successful five year stint as her musical arranger, the pinnacle of which came when they headlined Sunday afternoon at Glastonbury 2007.
I met up with Mike at the Watford Colosseum in between rehearsals for BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night: a programme which he’s had the pleasure to work on since 1999. To see Mike in full command of an orchestra is something to admire and it’s quite clear why he’s in such high demand by the cream of UK Light Entertainment. Working on such a varied show can be quite refreshing for an MD as no two shows are ever the same and mostly surround a definite theme. In recent months subjects covered include: Strictly Come Dancing, D-Day and the career of Wayne Sleep. In an age when Variety is almost extinct, it’s good to know that Live performance is alive and well and Mike is the perfect advocate for this art.
Slowly becoming the elder statesman of musical entertainment, Mike continues to be in demand as one of the most experienced musical directors in Britain. He is due to return to his regular post as Musical Director of the stage show Mrs Henderson Presents: a show which he remains hugely passionate about and having just celebrated a landmark birthday there seems no sign of Mike Dixon slowing down. It was an absolute pleasure to spend time with Mike and wish all the best for the next stage of such a glittering career in entertainment.