Hawaiian kids can end up in surprising places – the White House, a Disney cartoon, a football field.
Then there’s Keala Settle, who keeps being surprised. She’s gone from “Greatest Showman” (shown here) to a supporting role in “Murder in Provence,” arriving March 1 on the BritBox streaming service.
The show is sort of standard Brit-mystery, albeit set in France. Roger Allam (“Endeavour”) plays a crime-solving judge; Settle has a smaller role as a deputy police commissioner.
That’s part of a surge of mysteries streaming on BritBox and Acorn. The stories are solid – as British mysteries tend to be – with occasional surprises; the biggest is that Settle is there.
“When I wanted to come here, all I wanted to do is bring my dog and bake some bread,” she said, on a virtual press conference from England with the Television Critics Association. “That’s all I wanted.”
Growing up in Hawaii, she was more familiar with the maternal side of her family. (Her mother, who is Maori, was an R-&B singer in New Zealand, she said.) “My father is originally from England, so I wanted to move here to learn more about my heritage.”
After graduating from Southern Utah University, she had done several Broadway shows, getting a Tony nomination for “Hands on a Hardbody.” Then she was the bearded lady in Hugh Jackman’s “The Greatest Showman” (2017) and was the main singer on “This Is Me,” the powerhouse anthem.
“It was massive,” said Settle, 46. “Ever since, it’s been a learning experience for me.”
Suddenly, she was singing everywhere – at the Academy Award ceremony, on talk shows, on ABC’s live “Rent,” on Jackman’s tour. When things finally settled down, she moved to England and got a job.
“I remember getting on set and going, ‘Well, I’m just going to start singing, because I don’t know what else to do when the camera is off.’ (Then Allam) started humming and singing.”
Both had done “Les Miserables.” Back in 1985, he was Inspector Javert in the English-language debut, even helping mold it by suggesting a Javert-Valjean song be added. “I wouldn’t say I was responsible for it,” he said, “but it was certainly my suggestion that the confrontation … needed beefing up.”
So when the cameras were off, Settle said, “we sang a lot.” Then they went back to solving murders.