York Musical Theatre Company ready to follow the Yellow Brick Road at the JoRo

YORK stage stalwart Jeanette Hunter will play a villain for the first time from Wednesday to Saturday, starring as the Wicked Witch in York Musical Theatre Company’s The Wizard Of Oz.

Following the Yellow Brick Road at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, will be Sadie Sorensen’s Dorothy, Rachel Higgs’s Scarecrow, Zander Fick’s Tin Man and Daan Janssen’s Lion, while further principal roles will go to Liz Gardner as Glinda, Ben Caswell as the Guard, Rob Davies as Uncle Henry, Marlena Kellie as Auntie Em and Martin Hunter as the Wizard.

The production team of director and choreographer Kathryn Addison and musical director John Atkin promises a dazzling production of L Frank Baum’s story with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E Y Harburg.

In the ensemble will be Adam Gill, Katie Greene, Katy Barrow, Jo Gamble, Sue Coward, Katie Crossley, Helen Barugh, Kirsty Farrow and Iris Van Hout.

Jeanette Hunter’s Wicked Witch, right, in rehearsal with Daan Janssen’s Lion, left, Rachel Higgs’s Scarecrow, Zander Fick’s Tin Man, Sadie Sorensen’s Dorothy and Toto puppeteer Adam Gill

The delightful Munchkins will be played by the children’s cast of Amelia Berry, Sophie Blackmore, Anna Cook, Emilia Davenport, Olivia Dobson Lopez, Matilda Down, Erica Fletcher, Sucy Innes, Izzy Jackson, Eva Lofthouse, Lucas Macleod, Nia Mcvay, Edith Pickard, Matilda Rose and Ellena Sheader.

Adding to the enchantment will be Daisy the dog as Toto. Owned by cast member Helen Barugh, she brings alertness, friendliness, responsiveness and an affable nature to the part, along with an ability to interact with her fellow actors.

What’s more, audiences will be in for a delightful surprise as the show progresses. Once Dorothy and her companions reach the fantastical land of Oz, Daisy undergoes a magical transformation. From that point forward, Toto will be brought to life through the skilled, precise and charming puppetry of Adam Gill.

York Musical Theatre Company in The Wiard Of Oz, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, May 22 to 25, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Toto meet Toto: Adam Gill’s puppet version with canine star Daisy

York Beethoven Project to go ‘even bigger’ for No. 3, Eroica in September at Joseph Rowntree Theatre. Here’s how to apply

John Atkin directing the York Beethoven Project orchestra

YORK Beethoven Project will go “even bigger” for No. 3, Eroica when the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, hosts the third event on Saturday, September 14 and an additional workshop two weeks later.

“After our first event last year it became apparent that we were going to be too big to fit the whole orchestra onto the Rowntree stage, so we’ve had to limit September 14 to a group of 42 musicians, which will still be the biggest orchestra the JoRo has hosted,” says organiser, conductor and White Rose Theatre director John Atkin.

“We’ll therefore be holding another one-day workshop for the Eroica, which is open to all on September 28. So far, we again have more than 50 musicians signed up to take part.”

For more information or to participate, click on the link below or email yorkbeethovenproject@gmail.com.


The September 14 event will climax with a 7.30pm concert in two halves under the title of An Evening Of Revolutionary Music.

In the first half, the White Rose Singers will perform groundbreaking music from stage and screen under conductor John Atkin, including songs from West Side Story, Les Misérables, Carousel, James Robert Brown and Stephen Sondheim.

In the second,  the 42-piece York Beethoven Project orchestra will perform Beethoven’s “revolutionary masterpiece”, Symphony No. 3, Eroica. Tickets are on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

“York Beethoven Project is a unique series of concerts where we’ll perform all Beethoven’s Symphonies in order, featuring local musicians in local venues,” says John.

“After the huge success of Symphonies No. 1 and No. 2, we’re going even bigger for No.3: Eroica. Our future plans are now taking shape with bigger venues arranged for No. 4, 5 and 6 in 2025 and plans are well in place for a VERY big venue (or two ) in 2027 to host a performance of the 9th Symphony on what will be Beethoven’s 200th anniversary.”

Conductor John Atkin

Future events

Symphony No. 4 in Bb Major Op 60

Saturday, February 8 2025, York Music Education, Millthorpe School main hall.

Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op 67

Saturday, June 28 2025, St Mary the Virgin, Hemingbrough.

Symphony No. 6 in F Major Op 68 (Pastorale)

Saturday, September 27 2025, venue to be confirmed.These all will be one-day workshops, culminating in a performance from 4pm. 

Music will be distributed to players electronically well in advance. Registration for each event will open six months in advance. For more information, and to go on the mailing list, contact: yorkbeethovenproject@gmail.com

After successful day at Millthorpe School, York Beethoven Project announces plans for Symphony No. 3 in York and Malton

John Atkin conductiing the York Beethoven Project musicians at Millthorpe School

THE second event in the York Beethoven Project to perform all nine of his symphonies was a “huge success”, says director and conductor John Atkin.

On February 10, 56 musicians spent the day hosted by York Music Education CIC at Millthorpe School rehearsing Symphony No2, climaxing with an informal performance to an audience.

“York Music Education CIC were fabulous hosts; a number of senior students joined the orchestra for the day, and most groups popped in to listen at some point, including the I Can Play! session, bringing music to deaf children,” says John.

“As with Symphony No. 1, the day was very well organised and ran like clockwork, with five sessions of rehearsals, the second being a sectional one where the wind instruments were directed by Jonathan Sage.    

“There were ample breaks between each session with a couple of hundred cups of tea and coffee as well as cake provided by parents and Friends of York Music Education CIC.”

The aim of the project is inclusivity and opportunity. “That’s why it was really great to include some new faces, especially the students who joined us or came into the open rehearsal and maybe experienced a large orchestra for the first time,” says John. “Huge thanks to Dan Hield and all his team.”

The day was particularly poignant for John, who attended York Music Centre as a pupil in the 1970s and 1980s, when it was held at what was Queen Anne’s Grammar School. 

York Beethoven Project’s second day drew 56 musicians

“I first played there in a recorder ensemble as an eight-year-old, then returned as a trombonist in the late-1970s to play in YASSO and the Concert Band, which was a great experience and a good grounding in orchestral playing,” he says.

“I even gave up Saturday morning rugby to play, so it must have been pretty special!  Either way, it was my first step along a career path that’s now gone on 40-plus years.” 

What’s next? The project is making plans to perform Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”, with a 40-piece orchestra at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, on September 14 and the Wesley Centre, Malton, on September 28 in the company of the White Rose Singers.

Billed as An Evening Of Revolutionary Music, these 7.30pm concerts will feature revolutionary music from musicals including Les Misérables, West Side Story, Carousel and Stephen Sondheim works too.

“We’re asking musicians who play instruments that Beethoven wrote for to sign up to the next event, but we really only have vacancies for strings and French horns,” forewarns John.

Player registration forms can be found at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScZar8bgRoIfMdhbw1fhKizjureEwKjXrz5Gu7dZ5rWrTgBGA/viewform

For more information, go to: www.whiterosetheatre.co.uk

John Atkin’s No. 9 dream off to flying start as York Beethoven Project rehearses and performs Symphony No. 1 in a day

John Atkin, right, leading the York Beethoven Project workshop for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 at Acomb Methodist Church

ONE down, eight to go! The York Beethoven Project is under way with its vow to perform all of Ludwig Van B’s symphonies.

“The first event at Acomb Methodist Church was a huge success,” says organiser John Atkin, the York musical director and White Rose Theatre stalwart. “Fifty-six musicians put themselves forward to take part in the come-and-play workshop, so we closed registration in advance.

“Those players came from a variety of musical organisations in York, as well as further afield, which was the aim, and 54 attended on the day – September 23 – hosted by York Light Orchestra.

“They rehearsed Symphony No 1 in C major Op. 2, and it was then performed to an audience at the end, where there was standing room only.”

Atkin led the inaugural day, aided by fellow musicians Marcus Bousfield and Jonathan Sage. “It was very well organised and ran like clockwork through five sessions of rehearsals,” says John.

John Atkin’s score for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 at the inaugural York Beethoven Project workshop

“The second one was a sectional rehearsal where the wind instruments were directed by Jonathan. Following these sessions, we performed our debut concert. There were ample breaks between each session with a couple of hundred cups of tea and coffee being consumed.”

Acomb Methodist Church is the regular rehearsal venue for York Light Orchestra, the day’s hosts. “They gave us access to their equipment and music library,” says a grateful John.

Although musicians came predominantly from York, “a few friends and colleagues travelled in from Sheffield, Hull, Harrogate, Thirsk and Northallerton”. “The longest distance travelled was by a couple from East Sussex, who picked us up online. They can’t do Symphony No 2 but have the date for No. 3 in their diaries,” says John.

“There was a pretty even split between men and women, ranging in age from 20s to 70s, with a mixture of full-time players, keen amateurs and a few people ‘getting back into playing’ after a number of years.”

The string players at York Beethoven Project’s first workshop

Explaining his reasons for setting up the project, John says: “I get typecast at times as ‘the man that does shows’. Well, yes I am, but I also love classical music and have looked to spend more time doing this and some other projects as I get older.

“I started playing Beethoven as a young piano student. Then he was on my set works list at A-level, and we did a large piece of work on him at university, where I first had the opportunity to conduct his orchestral works. 

“Over the years, life has got in the way but completing the full cycle of symphonies has always been an ambition. After discussing it with colleagues at gigs and in a number of theatre pits around Yorkshire, it become evident that people would be supportive of the idea, so we launched York Beethoven Project in June and the response was great. Not only did we have 54 players at the first event, but we also have eight others on the waiting list.”

Outlining what he is seeking to achieve with the York Beethoven Project and assessing what the first day delivered, John says: “The plan was for it to be inclusive and fun while performing the work to a good standard. The concert was informal and introduced a number of people to Beethoven for the first time.

“All of our aims were achieved, as well as players rekindling friendships with people they hadn’t seen for some time.  Playing Beethoven for fun all day with 50 people – what’s not to like?!”

The wind players rehearsing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1

Instruments were spread evenly with 32 string players, 21 wind players and a percussionist. “That made the sound well balanced,” says John. “All instruments that Beethoven wrote for are welcome to sign up for the next event at Millthorpe School, hosted by York Arts Education, where I lead some Saturday ensembles.

“Here we hope to join up with a number of senior students and expand the orchestra even more for Symphony No. 2, which is one of my personal favourites. We’ll be doing it in the same format of a one-day workshop on Saturday, February 10.

“The sessions for Symphony No. 3, Eroica, will take place in September 2024 with two performances, hosted by the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, and the Welsey Centre, Malton. These concerts will feature revolutionary music from musicals too, including Les Miserables, Carousel and Sondheim works.”

The concert series will end with Symphony No. 9 in D minor No. 125 in 2027, just in time for the 200th anniversary of Beethoven’s death (on March 26 1827, at the age of 56). Each concert will take place in a different York venue and will be performed by York-based musicians and those from “not too far away”. Even Sussex!

More information and registration details for these events can be found at www.whiterosetheatre.co.uk. Enquiries about the project may be made via yorkbeethovenproject@gmail.com. 

The poster for the first York Beethoven Project workshop and performance


York Beethoven Project needs string players for first symphony concert in September. Here’s how to apply

John Atkin: Pulling the strings – and hopefully pooling the strings – for the York Beethoven Project

WANTED! String players and students are needed for the York Beethoven Project, launched by White Rose Theatre.

Woodwind or brass pupils can apply too but their places are becoming limited for the first in the series of Beethoven concerts performing his symphonies in order, which opens with No. 1 in C major Op. 21 on Saturday, September 23. 

Plans are in place for Symphonies No. 2 and No. 3 in 2024 and the series will end with Symphony No. 9 in D minor No. 125 in 2027, just in time for the 200th anniversary of Beethoven’s death (March 26 1827, at the age of 56).

Each concert will take place in a different York venue and will be performed by York-based musicians and those from “not too far away”. A double bass player, from Sheffield, has signed up already.

Symphony No. 1 will be rehearsed and performed in one day at Acomb Methodist Church, in association with York Light Orchestra, York Arts Education and White Rose Theatre and sponsored by Inc Dot.

“This is a Come & Play workshop-style event with rehearsals throughout the day from 9.30am, culminating in an informal concert at 4.15pm, with the audience welcome from 4pm,” says organiser John Atkin, the stalwart York musical director. “Once informed if they have been selected, all registered players will receive their parts in advance. 

The poster announcing the formation of the York Beethoven Project

“The aim is to enjoy playing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 throughout the day and then perform it alongside another well-known and popular short guest piece announced on the day! The event is free and is about taking part, experiencing and enjoying the music, with a collection box for voluntary donations from the audience to support the musicians.”

More than 30 musicians have signed up already. “If you’re a musician and want to take part, we’d love to hear from you,” says John. “We’re looking for anyone who can play an instrument that Beethoven wrote for, at Grade 6 or above, who’s over 16. Under-16s can also be considered if accompanied by an adult.”

​To register your interest to perform at the York Beethoven Project, head to: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdpJPqhwH5aqobIjBon647zVut1zM6ay7HI4P6FZorsVVedRA/viewform to complete the application form. Anyone not able to register online can call or text 07806 487695. Enquiries about the project may be made via yorkbeethovenproject@gmail.com.               

“It’s basically on my bucket list to do the Beethoven Symphonies in their entirety at some point in my life,” says John. “I started them at university – way back when in the last century! – and did three or four there, but then life gets in the way.

“I always wanted to complete the cycle and what a better way than with local people. It should be fun.”

REVIEW: 1812 Theatre Company in Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, Old Meeting House, Helmsley Arts Centre, July 5 to 9 ***

Natasha Jones’s Lucy Harris and Joe Gregory’s Dr Jekyll in 1812 Theatre Company’s Jekyll & Hyde The Musical. All pictures: Helmsley Arts Centre, Joe Coughlan Phtography

IN their 30th anniversary year, Helmsley Arts Centre’s resident troupe, the 1812 Theatre Company, staged a musical for the first time.

The Old Meeting House stage is not the biggest, yet still Julie Lomas’s cast could accommodate 22 players in that compact space, with the full company number Murder! Murder! being one of the highpoints for cast and choreographer Michaela Edens alike.

Lomas is an experienced directorial hand from her days at The Grange Theatre, Walsall, where she directed Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse’s Broadway musical for the Grange Players. Likewise, musical director John Atkin had filled the same role for York Musical Theatre Company in May last year.

Know-how and experience duly combined with fresh ideas to good effect in this musical retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella of love, betrayal and murder.

Sarah Barker’s brothel madam, Aunt, in Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

Two keyboards, guitar and drums took care of business with panache, Atkin and cohorts Cameron McArthur, Paul McArthur and Joe Brooks being equally at home with big ballads in the Lloyd Webber mode and the sly wickedness shared with Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street.

Sue Elm, Michael Goslin and Peter Ives’s set was built on two levels, both of them busy with human traffic in the ensemble numbers but best suited to the duets and profusion of solo numbers. Dr Henry Jekyll’s laboratory had to be rather squeezed in at the back but thankfully Joe Gregory is whippet slim.

The Gothic colour scheme of red walls and black doors was particularly effective when matched by the attire of the Victorian prostitutes of the Red Rat, and the use of masks was striking too.

This was CharlesHutchPress’s first encounter with Joe Gregory, and what an impressive lead performance he gave as the handsome/devil conflation of the upstanding, urbane but obsessive Jekyll and vengeful, sadistic, deranged alter ego Hyde welled up from within, once the doctor dares to dabble in reckless scientific experimentation in the cause of research for mental illness.

Joe Gregory’s urbane but obsessive Dr Jekyll

No Hammer Horror histrionics to report here on the journey to the dark side and an inner struggle between good and evil, scientific learning and carnal carnage. Instead, Gregory became more forceful of voice and manner, his movements staccato, stealthy and seductive, his actions ruthless, as brisk and lean as a bull fighter beneath a cocked hat.

The contrast was greater in his singing of the largely narrative songs, where notes would be deliberately strained in Hyde’s more urgent, guttural delivery, never more so than in The Confrontation, the Act Two vocal wrestling match for control in this dangerously dual personality.

It cannot be every arts centre where the artistic director (and youth theatre director to boot) happens to be the stand-out singer and actress for the resident company too. Step forward Natasha Jones, who was a knockout as Lucy Harris, the love-struck but self-protective prostitute, at once feisty but fearful and vulnerable.

What a voice; what expressiveness.  Each and every one of Lucy’s solo songs was better for her singing it, having first teased and tantalised provocatively among the saucy prostitutes in Bring On The Men.

Natasha Jones’s Lucy Harris: “What a voice. What expressiveness”

Her duets with both Gregory’s Jekyll and Hyde fizzed with electricity and, in between, her duet with Amy Gregory’s Emma Carew, Dr Jekyll’s trusting, unknowing fiancée, was Amy’s peak moment too.

As befits a romanticist scientist, Gregory’s Dr Jekyll had chemistry with both women, one relationship tender if preoccupied, the other tactile and voracious, as the chemically altered Hyde gradually prevails, both possessed and possessive.

John Lister’s John Utterson, Kristian Gregory’s Simon Stride, Richard Noakes’s Sir Danvers Carew, Barry Whitaker’s Bishop of Basingstoke, Sarah Barker’s brothel madam, Aunt, and Esme Schofield’s Newsgirl all had their moments in a show best known for Dr Jekyll’s belter This Is The Moment.

It was enjoyable too to spot Rowntree Players’ riotous pantomime dame, Graham Smith, in a deliciously wicked cameo as Sir Archibald Proops QC, a law unto himself indeed.

Joe Gregory’s Dr Jekyll finds peace at last in the arms of Amy Gregory’s Emma in the finale to Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

Julie Lomas directs 1812 Theatre Company for first time in Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

Julie Lomas directing a rehearsal for 1812 Theatre Company’s production of Jeklly & Hyde The Musical

JULIE Lomas directs Helmsley Arts Centre’s resident troupe, the 1812 Theatre Company, in their first ever musical production, Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse’s Jekyll & Hyde, from tomorrow.

In Robert Louis Stevenson’s story, a devoted man of science, Dr Henry Jekyll, is driven to find a chemical breakthrough that can solve some of mankind’s most challenging medical dilemmas. Indeed, he is trying to discover cures for what now would be recognised as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Rebuffed by the powers that be, he decides to make himself the subject of his own experimental treatments, accidentally unleashing his inner demons along with the man the world would come to know as Mr Hyde.

1812’s cast features husband and wife Joe and Amy Gregory in the lead roles of Jekyll/Hyde and Emma Carew. John Atkin is the musical director; Michaela Edens, the choreographer.

Here Julie discusses 1812 Theatre Company’s 30th anniversary production with CharlesHutchPress.

How did you land this directing gig? Were you head-hunted or did you pitch for it?

“An 1812 Theatre Company member suggested that the company should do a musical at the annual general meeting. Apparently, others had been talking about wanting to do it for some time.

“The committee discussed this and I said that if they would like to go ahead, I had experience as a director
in musical theatre and would love to do it.”


What attracted you to directing Jekyll & Hyde The Musical?

“I love musicals that dramatic enough to ‘move’ an audience emotionally. There are not many of these that are available for amateurs to perform. I feel that there are several opportunities for this in Jekyll and Hyde.


“With its dramatic strengths and less choreographic content, it is a suitable choice as a
first musical for this company.


“Plus, I’ve directed it before for the Grange Players in Walsall. This actually made me think very carefully as I prefer not to repeat anything, but this was a musical that I was driven to do again. My concept this time is different, a contemporary treatment but still in a Victorian setting.”


What is your directing background?

“Having performed in several plays for The Grange Theatre, Walsall, I was asked if I would like to
direct. My first play was Kindertransport by Diane Samuels, and after that I never looked back.

“I directed several plays there, including Rebecca, Accrington Pals and The End Of The Affair but my favourite by a long way was Peter Schaffer’s Amadeus.

“I think it was being able to bring together my love of music, fabulous period costume, make-up
and wigs plus the wonderful tragic plot line and enigmatic characters. I was fortunate enough to win a regional NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) award for that production, which I treasure.

“I moved into directing a musical there and then directed one professionally for Brownhills Musical Theatre Company, Sweet Charity.”

Do you now specialise in musical theatre?

“I’m keen to embrace many types of theatrical productions. I’ve been a soloist singer since the age of eight and have been lucky enough to have had many fantastic principal roles in musical theatre. My favourites were Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street and Sally Bowles in Cabaret.

“So, although I cannot say that I specialise in musical theatre, there’s absolutely nothing that compares with the feeling of being part of a musical, as a performer, director or crew member.”

What brought you to Helmsley?

“I moved to North Yorkshire to be geographically close to my son and his wife and see more of my grandchildren. My eldest son and his family live in Sheffield, so I can commute there too.


“However, it’s a great place to live in its own right, the peaceful countryside around here is a sheer delight and Helmsley is the prettiest town in which to rehearse and perform! I was looking for a theatre company that would feel like ‘home’ to me and I felt welcomed from the start. The theatre itself is lovely, providing an intimate theatre space, modern studio bar and leafy courtyard.


“I live in Westow, a village just outside the Howardian Hills area. I now consider the Helmsley Arts
Centre to be my base. In a few years, even with the lockdown, I have already performed there, worked backstage for a production and I’m also a member of the management committee.”

Any thoughts on why 1812 Theatre Company has not staged a musical in its 30 years until now?

“I would imagine it’s because when the company was set up, the idea was for members to perform plays. However, it’s so much more diverse now. In the past 12 months alone we’ve performed plays, a rehearsed reading, an indoor/outdoor production in Helmsley Walled Garden, a hugely successful pantomime and now a musical!


“We’re hoping that this variety will both entice new members, who are always welcome,
and encourage retention of existing members.


“The other more sombre answer is that to produce a musical is expensive and we’re hoping to have good audiences, not only to see the amazing performances, but also from a financial

What are the strengths of Bricusse and Wildhorn’s songs?


“As we’re repeatedly told by our musical director, John Atkin, this is not an easy musical score. However, it’s such a beautiful one with melodies that linger long after the show is over.


“It allows performers to do just that: perform the music, rather than just sing it, and we have worked hard to bring that to the stage. It provides a tour de force for the eponymous actor, Jekyll, which climaxes with him singing a duet with himself, as Hyde. Joe [Gregory] has excelled in the role and I’m sure audiences will appreciate his performance.”

Is this the first time you have worked with musical director John Atkin?

“It is, and I’m hoping it will not be the last. As soon as I met him, I knew the production
was in safe hands. He’s an extremely talented musician and wonderful to
work with.”

A husband and wife, Joe and Amy Gregory, will lead your cast as Jekyll/Hyde and Emma Carew. What does their personal relationship bring to their stage partnership?

“It’s rare for there to be such chemistry between the two romantic leads – even if they do happen to be married! Joe and Amy have such a special relationship, and in their case, this comes across immediately.


“They’re also both lovely people and in all my time directing, I have genuinely never met anyone more joyous to work with. They are committed, passionate performers who will work hard to
deliver what you’re aiming for as a director yet also contribute actively to the creative process.”

What is the message of Jekyll & Hyde in our 21st century world, where tampering with science
may well have led to Covid?

“Good question. I suppose the message is that research does not always deliver the desired
results. Sometimes though, even the unexpected results can turn out to be beneficial. There are many drugs that are used for things for which they were not intended in development.

As a hospital pharmacist by profession, I was interested in this angle of drug research in psychiatry with Dr Jekyll. Even today, we still know comparatively little about the causes of
mental illness and effective drug therapy is limited.

“Also, if you consider the possible effects of hallucinogenic drugs, the concept of a ‘Dr Jekyll’ and ‘Mr Hyde’ characterisation after injection is not so far-fetched.”

What will be your next theatrical project?

“My next project for 1812 Theatre Company is to mentor a first-time director, Sarah Barker, as she directs ’The Kitchen Sink [Hull playwright Tom Wells’s tender comedy of big dreams and small changes in a Withernsea, East Yorkshire family].

We like to encourage members to consider directing and have a few people that are interested, but it’s important that they have someone to support them through the process.

“I think the big question is, will I ever direct another musical for 1812. Who knows? This production has consumed every moment of my life for the past six months, and a fair few moments in the months before that.

“I’d like to think so. What I do know, though, is that my passion for musicals will never die, unlike a number of Jekyll’s victims!”

1812 Theatre Company in Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, Helmsley Arts Centre, July 5 to 9, 7.30pm. Tickets: £15, under 18s, £7.50, from the arts centre, on 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk. Age
guidance: Suitable for 13 plus.



York Musical Theatre Company concert raises £2,133 for Ukrainian aid appeal

The concert poster for last Saturday’s fundraiser

YORK Musical Theatre Company & Friends have raised £2,133 for the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal from A Concert For Ukraine, held on April 30 at Our Lady’s Church, Cornlands Road, York.

Organiser Sophie Urquhart says: “As we’ve all been so horrified by the tragic images on the news every night from Ukraine, I felt determined to do something, however small to help. 

“As a member of York Musical Theatre Company (YMTC), it seemed an ideal solution to put on a concert for people to enjoy and to raise funds at the same time.   

“The rest of the company couldn’t have been more enthusiastic, and once our musical director, John Atkin, was on board, the whole plan came together, inviting members from other local theatre companies to join us.” 

Last Saturday’s programme featured multiple show tunes from West End musicals past and present, ranging from old favourites from Les Miserables, The Phantom Of The Opera and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street to a couple from YMTC’s next show, Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, now in rehearsal for a May 25 to 28 run at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.

“We also had a wonderful and inspirational lady called Victoria from the Ukraine opening our concert, reminding us why we were all there,” says Sophie.

All proceeds are going to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal run by Action Aid. “For those that couldn’t attend, but would still like to donate, there’s a JustGiving page set up,” says Sophie. To give, go to: justgiving.com/fundraising/Concert4Ukraine?utm_campaign=lc.

Now, in the words of John Atkin, YMTC will “play catch-up” with Jekyll & Hyde rehearsals.

Rehearsals start for York Musical Theatre Company’s May show Jekyll & Hyde The Musical. Who’s in Matthew Clare’s cast?

York Musical Theatre Company’s artwork for Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

REHEARSALS are underway for York Musical Theatre Company’s May staging of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical.

“The production team were blown away by the high standard of talent that attended the two days of auditions in January, resulting in a very tough task in the casting of roles,” says company stalwart Mick Liversidge. “In fact, deliberation went on to the early hours of the morning after the final auditionee had left on the second day.

“YMTC feel that the resulting cast will deliver a fantastic show, worthy of marking the company’s 120th year. Rehearsals began on Monday and the cast couldn’t wait to get stuck into the sumptuous music of this fabulous show.”

Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story, the epic struggle between good and evil comes to life on stage to the thrilling pop-rock score of Grammy and Tony Award-nominated Frank Wildhorn and double Oscar and Grammy-winning Leslie Bricusse.

An evocative tale of two men – one, a doctor, passionate and romantic; the other, a terrifying madman – and two women – one, beautiful and trusting; the other, beautiful and trusting only herself – finds both women in love with the same man and both unaware of his dark secret.

A devoted man of science, Dr Henry Jekyll is driven to find a chemical breakthrough that can solve the most challenging of medical dilemmas. Rebuffed by the powers-that-be, he decides to make himself the subject of his own experimental treatments, accidentally unleashing his inner demons, along with the man that the world would come to know as Mr Hyde.

York Musical Theatre Company invite audiences to “be immersed in the myth and mystery of 19th century London’s fog-bound streets, where love, betrayal and murder lurk at every chilling turn and twist” in the May 25 to 28 run at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York.

Tickets are on sale on 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk. For the Early Bird discount of £2 off each ticket, use the promo code JEKYLL22HYDE when booking online.

Jekyll & Hyde cast:

Dr Henry Jekyll/Mr Edward Hyde: Steven Jobson
Emma Carew:  Alexandra Mather
Lucy Harris:  Nicola Holliday & Claire Pulpher (shared role)
John Utterson:  Anthony Gardner
Sir Danvers Carew:  Nick Sephton
Simon Stride:  Matthew Ainsworth
Lady Beaconsfield:  Helen Spencer
Lady Savage: Elizabeth Vile
Archibald Proops:  Ryan Stocks
General Glossop: Rob Davies
Bishop of Basingstoke: Ryan Richardson
Spider: Ben Caswell
Nellie: Erin Keogh

Ensemble: Eleanor Anson; Faye Addy; Danar Cantrill; Ellie Carrier; Sophie Cunningham; Bethany Edwards; Rebecca Ellis; Tess Ellis; Emily Hardy; Cameron O’Dent; Frankie Nicholls; Suzanne Perkins; Victoria Rimmington; Paula Stainton; Hannah Wakelam.

Director: Matthew Clare; musical director, John Atkin; production manager, Peter Jamieson;
wardrobe, Kathryn Addison.

York Musical Theatre Company seeks new recruits for May’s Jekyll & Hyde The Musical as part of 120th anniversary celebrations

York Musical Theatre Company’s poster for next May’s production of Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

YORK Musical Theatre Company is seeking to attract new members to take part in next year’s exciting shows to marks its 120th anniversary.

First up will be Jekyll & Hyde The Musical, directed by Matthew Clare, with musical direction by John Atkin, at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, from May 25 to 28.

An introductory evening will be held on Thursday, January 6 at 7.30pm at Poppleton Methodist Church Hall. “This will be a chance for anyone interested in being involved with the show to meet the production team and chat about auditions, rehearsals, the characters, the plot and the music,” says new committee member Mick Liversidge.

“There’ll be auditions for all character and ensemble roles on Saturday, January 15, from 11am to 3pm, and Tuesday, January 18, from 7.3pm to 9.30pm, again at Poppleton.”

Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s thriller The Strange Case Of Jekyll And Hyde, the musical sets the gripping tale of a brilliant mind gone horrifically awry to a powerful pop-rock score by Frank Wildhorn, with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse.

“Jekyll & Hyde The Musical should be a truly memorable show to celebrate York Musical Theatre Company’s 120th year,” says committee member and actor Mick Liversidge

In attempting to cure his ailing father’s mental illness by separating “good” from “evil” in the human personality, talented physician Dr Jekyll inadvertently creates an alternate personality of pure evil, dubbed Mr Hyde, who wreaks murderous havoc on the city of London.

As his fiancée, Emma, grows increasingly fearful for her betrothed, a prostitute, Lucy, finds herself involved dangerously with both the doctor and his alter ego. Struggling to control Hyde before he takes over for good, Jekyll must race to find a cure for the demon he has created in his own mind.

“The music for this show is sumptuous, with some fabulous moving numbers for the lead characters to perform, backing up a truly bittersweet story of love, passion, sex and murder, mixed with both the physical and mental struggles of Dr Jekyll to vindicate his medical theories,” says Mick.

To register for an audition, send an email to: auditions@yorkmusicaltheatrecompany.org.uk.
“The auditions are open to anyone who wishes to be involved in what should be a truly memorable show to celebrate York Musical Theatre Company’s 120th year,” says Mick.