Two years ago, composer Howard Goodall was asked what cultural tip he would give to a tourist about Britain's arts scene.
Appreciate that it's incredibly youth-driven, he replied. People over a certain age don't always think that's a good thing, but I love our anarchic, vibrant youth culture. He's certainly passionate about involving young people in music - from 2007 to 2011 he was England's first Ambassador for Singing, leading a programme to improve the provision of group singing for primary school children. His musical The Hired Man played at Curve a few weeks ago, and the theatre's Young Company has spent the past six months rehearsing once or twice a week to perform his musical The Dreaming, based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (lyrics by Charles Hart, who wrote the lyrics for The Phantom of the Opera).
Earlier this week, Mr Goodall (who wrote the theme music for TV's Blackadder, QI and The Vicar of Dibley and is working on a musical of Bend It Like Beckham) made a trip to Curve to see the first full run-through of The Dreaming.
Just like the play upon which it's based, it includes the play- within-a-play, the chaos of four lovers, magic and fairies, but is packed full of songs.
It's been a busy six months for the company as they've also been rehearsing a production of The Tempest, with one group of performers working on the musical and another working on the play.
Curve associate director Tim Ford leads both productions, involving a cast of local young performers aged from 12 to 26, including 12-year-old Lauren Jones who plays Jack in The Dreaming, a character based on Puck.
Curve's production is the first time the role has been played by a girl and Lauren was singled out for praise by Mr Goodall.
But it's not just about the performers, young technicians from the Curve company work alongside professional crew to support lighting, stage and sound facilities, while students from Leicester's Guthlaxton College are providing a sixpiece orchestra for The Dreaming.
It was fantastic to have Howard here. He was thrilled with the production, he said he loved it and was impressed with the quality and talent of the young people here, said Tim. He was amazed at the energy and creativity of the performance.
He told the young people that, as a composer, you always worry about how an audience will hear your work, and whether they'll hear it how you intended it to be heard, but he felt he was in very safe hands here.
He was very encouraging and positive and very generous with his time.
They perform The Tempest from Thursday, June 27, to Saturday, June 29, and The Dreaming, from July 4 to 6, in Curve's studio theatre.
Auditions will be taking place after the shows for new members of the company.
info FOR details of the shows, call 0116 242 3595 or visit: www.curveonline.co.uk
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