Saturday, August 17, 2013
A NEW season gets underway shortly at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans combining theatre, music and entertainment
The stage is set for a range of productions from September to December taking in innovative new writing, edgy drama, comic opera and even a live album recording.
The season kicks off with a retelling of the last days of Boudicca, legendary queen of the Iceni, written and directed by local theatre company OVO’s Imogen de la Bere.
With original music and specially designed costumes, Boudicca at Verulamium premieres at the theatre on September 5 with further performances on September 6, 7, 10, 11 and 12.
Music is well represented in the coming months and includes a showcase of songs from local singer songwriter Justin Starck on September 14 which will also be recorded for a special live album.
St Albans Jazz Ensemble will play a wide variety of styles from swing and Latin, to funk, close harmony soul and blues on September 19.
Two comic operas and a short play are being served up by Irrational Theatre later in September before the company returns in November with Cinderella and the Soul Sisters, a 70s Motown musical panto.
There’s more opera on offer in October and December with Viva Verdi, a collection of Verdi’s well-known and loved classics, and Engelbert Humperdink’s Hansel and Gretel, both performed by St Albans Chamber Opera.
Jazz lovers will welcome the news that Fansofstan are bringing the Stan Tracey Quintet to the theatre on October 19 for a special celebration of the jazzman’s 70 years making music.
First Friday Folk is back by popular demand with top local performers supported by young musicians from the St Albans Folk annual New Roots event.
And on the music front there will also be a special benefit concert in December to raise funds for a statue by local sculptor Frank Casey of Tom Watters, the last surviving British veteran of the Spanish Civil War.
StageSpell Theatre Company makes a welcome return to the theatre in October with David Eldridge’s Under The Blue Sky. Winner of the 2001 Time Out Live Award for Best New Play, it is a powerful study of obsession, gender politics and emotional neediness.
The drama continues at the end of October with a new play from Peppermint Muse Theatre Company about the tragic events surrounding the Altamont Speedway Free Festival. Written and performed by well-known local actor John Stenhouse, Altamont is one man’s experience of life, death and music.
OVO puts staff room rivalry and the anarchy of adolescence under the spotlight in November with Alan Bennett’s seminal play, The History Boys, which was a huge success in the West End, Broadway and on film.
OVO will also be performing a musical evening in celebration of Benjamin Britten in November.
Young audiences will have an added bonus with POP! Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty as they’ll get the chance to meet performers and enjoy a dance workshop following the show.
And the audience participation continues in December with Blast from the Past’s invitation to sing carols as part of their historical entertainment evening. An eclectic mix of iconic songs from St Albans singer Fenella Lee and OVO’s homage to the wit and comic genius of Flanders and Swann round off the theatrical season.
Imogen de la Bere, programming director for the venue, commented, “We’re delighted to see the programming at the theatre go from strength to strength with a perfect balance of local and touring productions, regular well-loved music events and our in-house performances.
“The venue’s welcoming atmosphere and sociable bar are always commented on and we’re very much looking forward to welcoming returning and new audiences this season.”