On Sunday 26th August 2018 Curve Theatre hosted a free event #Curve10 – celebrating ten brilliant years in theatrical existence. The concert style event was hosted by stars Lucie Jones and Jodie Prenger. It was to prove a very special evening indeed for the people of Leicestershire and beyond.
For myself, Phil Lowe, this meant an opportunity to stop over in Leicester and mingle after the event, instead of running hell for leather for a late train back to Nottingham at an unpredictable time and then trying to locate a bus back to my village – on a Sunday. And so I booked a room at The Grand Hotel on Granby Street and arrived in Leicester mid-afternoon relaxed and ready for the evening event. Nicholas Hytner’s book ‘Balancing Acts’ proved a great read before I headed off to Curve.
Curve’s Green Room provided a great place to enjoy a very tasty burger and fries meal and a chance to watch other excited punters arriving and for myself and others to buy some raffle tickets.
Before the show I managed to catch a few moments to chat to Curve’s press and media manager Fiona. Equally, I bumped into the always affable and welcoming Executive Director Chris Stafford. Edging my way through the increasing crowds I managed to interrupt the lovely Suba Das in the middle of his stellar raffle ticket selling role. Once in the theatre I swapped a few words artistic director Nikolai Foster who said a very nice ‘Thank you Phil for always supporting us at Curve’. I took my seat on L row. The lights went down and an electric sense of excitement in the audience was palpable.
The event was spectacular right from the off as over 1500 free seats were full of Curve supporters and both Curve auditoria – studio and main house – were open so that what looked like a mirrored reflection of the main house on the far reaches of the main house stage was actually populated by real people in the studio! Curve architect Rafael Viñoly would have been proud to see the fully opened democratic and innovative space. Additionally there were audience members on stage right and left of the main house stage itself! What an atmosphere.
The following is not meant as a review but just a fond reflection of the artists/songs that I enjoyed personally. This was mostly because of the strength and professionalism of the delivery of a favourite song.
Jodie Prenger and Lucie Jones are our sparkly hosts this evening. They provide us with not only the running order of the acts but references to performers and shows that have been enjoyed by past and present Curve audiences. Their presentation style is littered with amusements meant and the occasional, equally amusing faux pas.
To start the evening off – Curve’s Young Company with Molly Lynch impresses with a thoroughly grown up version of ‘Sunday’ from Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday In The Park With George. In my opinion this SITPWG would be a super show for Curve to present should the rights become available.
From Chicago Sam Bailey blasts out a superb rendition of ‘When You’re Good To Mamma’ followed by ‘Moving Too Fast’ ( Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years) powerfully sung by Stewart Clarke.
Alyshia Dhakk blows our minds with ‘The Movie In My Mind’ from Miss Saigon. Curve Young Company once again show their innate skills with Phone Dance choreographed by Si Rawlinson.
West Side Story finds its expression tonight with ‘Tonight’ with astonishing polish by Nathanael Landskroner and Amara Okereke followed by a gusty ‘A Boy Like That’ delivered through the exceptional talents of Djalenga Scott and Molly Lynch.
Reminding us of her role as Sandy In Grease Jessica Paul brings out the very best of the romantic ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’. Also from Grease we enjoy Djalenga Scott’s ‘Worse Things’ from the musical canon of Grease’s Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.
As we approach the interval dancer/choreographer extraordinaire Aakash Odedra is totally spellbinding in his solo dance work to the music of James Brown.
Dan Burton pulls on the heart strings and takes us to the romantic world of Camelot (Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe) with the poignant ‘If Ever I Would Leave You’.
Local drag artist – the amazingly erudite Ceri Dupree begins his wickedly entertaining character driven evening with an illuminating and naughty look at who has played Dolly over the years in Jerry Herman’s show Hello Dolly. It would be nice to think that this evenings performance would see a studio to main stage shift in Ceri Dupree’s regular appearances at Curve. In the second half he/she re-appears to bring the house down with his hilarious Dame Edna skit. Even if you are too young to know who Dame Edna is, the material is still strong enough to make you laugh like a drain.
After the interval CYC Musicals illuminate the stage with ‘Sing Sing Sing!’ by Benny Goodman. These talented young people represent the future of Curve and it would be fascinating to see where they are in ten years time. Actor Mark Peachey shows off his versatility with the opening speech from Shakespeare’s Richard lll and later on appears to give us a finely mannered rendition of ‘Reviewing The Situation’ from Lionel Bart’s evergreen musical ‘Oliver!’
Melanie La Barrie is mightily impressive with the vocally challenging ‘Rose’s Turn’ from Julie Styne and Stephen Sondheim’s back stage inspired musical Gypsy. From the not so well known (in this country) the musical Violet by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley, finds us in the company of Dex Lee. Last seen at Curve in Grease Dex Lee thrills with his version of ‘Let It Sing’.
The irrepressible CYC Dance break out in dark style with Hunger Games choreographed by Mel Knott. Later in the programme we enjoy more dance in Liam Bone and Laura Bryan’s piece – Steve Reich.
Lucie Jones and Stewart Clarke have us on a musical ‘will she, won’t she’ roller coaster with a sublimely sung title song ‘Legally Blonde’ and the delightful Anton Stephens blows the roof off Curve with a powerful version of ‘The Impossible Dream’ from Man of La Mancha. He is accompanied by the graceful Curve’s Over 55s Dance Company.
Now it is time for our host Jodie Prenger to let loose in song and she gives us a soaring version of ‘Secret Love’ from Calamity Jane, a show in which she played the title role at Curve.
The astonishing poet Carol Leeming stuns the audience with her brilliant Curve poem accentuating the beauty of Curve both aesthetically, artistically and astronomically as her metaphorical Curve roof opens up to the heavens and all its stars.
Concluding the evening CYC Musicals return to the stage once again with ‘Seasons Of Love’ from Jonathan Larson’s Rent.
For all those people who bought raffle tickets Chris Stafford and Nikolai Foster pull out the lucky winners of free press night tickets for various Curve shows and other wonderful prizes.
Chris Stafford and Nikolai Foster give passionate speeches thanking all involved in tonight’s extra special event especially the generous sponsors Hastings Direct; all the performers and musicians and their director Alex Parker who have given their time free this evening; the back stage team and team Curve; FOH and over thirty world class acts on stage. And of course this evening’s super hosts Lucie Jones and Jodie Prenger.
The whole audience sing a joyful ‘Happy Birthday’ to Curve and the evening concludes with Lucie Jones giving us the splendid theatrical anthem ‘This Is Me’.
Here’s to the next ten years and thank you Curve for a wonderful evening! Phil Lowe
Photo credit: Pamela Raith
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