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Dateline: 5th June, 2005

Youth Music Theatre logo

YMT: Looking Forward to a Great Year

Following its successful tour of auditions which covered fourteen cities across the UK and more than tripled the attendance rate, Youth Music Theatre: UK has over 250 promising young people joining the company this year. These talented youngsters will take part in eight musical theatre projects across the UK throughout the summer.

The extensive programme for 2005 includes a mixture of fairytale and politics, reality TV paranoia and circus space antics. The company will debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August with its new musical production, Goblin Market. Two more pieces will be presented at the Festival as works-in-progress: Missing Melanie, an experimental piece of musical theatre with strong rock, pop and jazz tunes, and Please Look at Me Now, a musical based on the reality TV show Big Brother. Other projects include an adaptation of the Count of Monte Cristo, to be shown in August at the Birmingham Hippodrome, and the premiere of a piece exploring the era of Joe McCarthy and the music of Miles Davis to be presented at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.

Scene from Goblin Market
Goblin Market (Edinburgh Fringe Festival)
Writer/Director Kath Burlinson; Composer Conor Mitchell; Designer Gary McCann; Lighting James McFetridge; Costumes Heather Long
Performances: 5 – 28 August 2005 @ 5.15pm, George Square Theatre, Edinburgh
Christina Rossetti’s poem Goblin Market has fascinated critics and enchanted readers of all ages for more than a hundred years. In an ambitious score for a 13-piece orchestra, director Kath Burlinson and composer Conor Mitchell have re-created Rossetti’s haunting world inhabited by horrid goblin creatures who tempt the unwary to buy their enticing but deadly fruit. The piece is a 75 minute chamber opera charting the story of two sisters, Lizzie and Laura. When Laura falls to the ‘come buy’ cry of the goblin-merchants, Lizzie must make a radical choice if she is to save her sister. The work had a critically acclaimed run at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast in 2003. Scheduled to play London, the production has already raised interest from promoters in Beijing and Seoul.

Missing Melanie (Edinburgh Fringe Festival)
Writer/Director Kath Burlinson; composer Conor Mitchell
Performances: 27 – 28 August 2005 @ 10.30am, George Square Theatre, Edinburgh
Missing Melanie is a piece of musical theatre with a strong rock/pop score which follows the disappearance of 18-year-old Melanie. Set over a period of three days, the musical charts the effect of Melanie’s disappearance on her school community and explores how the relationships between various friends, siblings and peer groups are affected.

Please Look at Me Now (Edinburgh)
Director Peta Lily; Composer Jimmy Jewell; Choreographer Andy Howitt; Video Artist Karola Gajda
Performances: 17 August @ 7.30pm, 18 August @ 2pm and 7.30pm , Loretto School, Edinburgh (The piece will be shown as a work-in-progress at the Edinburgh Festival)
A ‘junk opera’ that looks with warmth and humour at the loneliness of spectator culture, the seductive power of reality TV and the new celebrity. This is ‘Big Brother – The Musical’!

The Open Door (Belfast)
Director Gerry Flanagan; Composer tba; Choreographer tba
Performances: 18 – 19 August, Methodist College, Belfast
A door opens. A voice is heard. A song is sung. One story unfolds, then another… Each will be an invitation that will lead into adventure, love, terror or wonder. The Open Door is a devised project using improvisation, games, choral and rhythm work to release creative expression, play and spontaneity.

Unforgotten (Plymouth)
Director Nick Stimson, Composer Chris Williams, Choreographer Vik Sivalingam
Performances: 21 – 22 August 2005, Plymouth College, Plymouth
1918 - the First World War is drawing to an end. A young French soldier is found wandering on a railway station. He has no memory of who he is or how he got there. This lost soul becomes the focus of a bewildered and shocked nation desperate to find the image of their missing loved ones in his silent eyes. A powerful drama of loss and longing, the blind journey of love despite impossible odds… from silence to song.

Red Hunter (Manchester)
Director Vernon Mound; Composer Tim Sutton; Choreographer Clare Russ; Writer Jane Bodie; Designer Chris de Wilde
Performances: 16 – 17 August 2005, Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester
Exploring the world of Joe McCarthy, the beat generation and music of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. The story weaves around a lone white dancer attracted to a black trumpet player, the relationship between a staff member of the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and a demobbed GI, blackmail and a drugs raid.

Monte Cristo (Warwick/Birmingham)
Director Stephen Jameson; Composer Leon Parris; Writer Jon Smith
Performances: 26 – 27 August 2005, Patrick Centre Birmingham Hippodrome
Based on the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas, Jon Smith and Leon Parris have succeeded in adapting the 875-page epic into a fast-paced-roller-coaster-ride full of excitement, revenge and intrigue. Incredibly compressed into a two-hour show, this production brings 19th Century France to life through the trials and tribulations of Edmond Dantes, a sailor wrongfully accused of a crime he didn't commit.

The Stones are Hatching (Norwich)
Director Ellie Jones; Writer Jenifer Toksvig; Composer Alexander Rudd; based on the novel by Geraldine MacCreaghan
Performances: 19 – 20 August 2005, Hethersett Old School, Norwich
"Phelim was the only one, they said, the only one who could save the world from the Hatchlings of the Stoor Worm. The Stoor Worm, who had been asleep for aeons, was beginning to waken. The dreadful sounds of war had roused it, and now its Hatchlings were abroad, terrorizing the people who had forgotten all about them, forgotten all the ancient magics. As Phelim leaves his home and sets out on his quest, the words ring in his ears: ‘You are the one. To stop the Worm waking. To do what must be done.’" This energetic version of the extraordinary book is a fascinating mix of puppetry and conventional musical theatre with a company predominantly under the age of 16.

Youth Music Theatre: UK (YMT: UK) is a registered charity established in October 2003 by a group of experienced directors, administrators, pastoral staff, young people and parents determined to create a dynamic and participatory company which could bring together young people from around the UK in musical theatre projects.

Committed to producing youth music theatre to the highest standards and to pushing the boundaries of this popular genre, the charity purely concentrates on original and innovative work. The recently enlisted young members will not be performing the next adaptation of Oliver or Annie, but will embark on a creative journey that will take them through the whole process of creating a new musical piece. The ethos is indeed one of engaging the young participants in the devising process from the beginning, giving them a strong sense of ownership of the piece.

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©Peter Lathan 2005