Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre is joining the increasing number of theatres offering online entertainment as the Coronavirus crisis continues.
The theatre - which has an increasing reputation for its revivals of lesser-known as well as mainstream musicals - will stage an online concert celebrating the lives of legendary composing team Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, featuring West End stars, on Sunday, April 26, at 7pm.
The theatre’s executive director, William Whelton, said: “Rodgers and Hammerstein are credited as the creators of musical theatre as we know it and we could think of no other way of celebrating theatre during these times than to host a concert dedicated to them.”
Hope Mill Theatre has been closed since March 17 and made the difficult decision to cancel its first production of the year - the UK theatrical premiere of the Broadway version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, which was due to open in May.
The virtual concert of the pair’s work will feature songs from shows such as Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific and - of course - Cinderella. The pre-recorded event will be streamed on the venue’s YouTube channel, Twitter and Facebook. Though free, Hope Mill would welcome donations.
The cast will perform their songs at home, and their performances will be edited into a complete “concert experience”, which will also feature some special guest hosts and familiar theatrical faces.
The line-up includes West End stars Maria Friedman (Ragtime, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), Louise Dearman (Wicked, Sideshow), and Sophie-Louise Dann (Lend Me A Tenor, Bend it Like Beckham), as well as intended Cinderella cast members Matthew Blaker, Julie Yammanee and Cinderella herself, Georgie Buckland. Buckland is a recent graduate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and was discovered among the 500 performrs who auditioned for the role.
Also featured will be performers from past Hope Mill productions Joel-Harper Jackson (Little Women), Laura Harrison (Parade) and Simbi Akande (Putting It Together), as well as Any Dream Will Do contestant, Keith Jack.
Hope Mill Theatre will be launching a Crowdfunder on the evening, which will be used to raise money to help the venue to reopen when the time comes.
Artistic director Joseph Houston said: “It has been important for us to stay engaged with our wonderful and loyal audiences and supporters. We have had so much love and support from individuals and this has been the catalyst for us to continue to do what we know best - just in a very different way.”
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