Paul's past glories and future hits ; As Curve prepares to celebrate its fifth birthday, Lizz Brain talks to man for all seasons Paul Kerryson about what theatre-goers can expect in the autumn
It's hard to believe Curve celebrates its fifth birthday season this autumn. And what a five years. From the world premiere of Finding Neverland and the European premiere of The Light in the Piazza, through the acclaim of Gypsy and birth of a hugely- successful tour of The King and I, to the 21st anniversary of Hot Stuff and sellout visits by umpteen companies, it's a lucky old Leicester with such a diverse programme in its midst.
Diversity continues this autumn season, although artistic director Paul Kerryson clearly understands Leicester's taste and is happy to cater to it, offering productions which will surely satisfy, as well as having audiences coming back for more.
There are also a few specials on offer for those who wish to broaden their horizons.
For those who have developed a taste for the works of Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, there's a classic in store.
Kerryson has enjoyed success both at the Haymarket and Curve with McDonagh's works, including The Pillowman, The Cripple of Inishmaan and The Lieutenant of Inishmore (the author also wrote the hit films In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths).
Now, Paul turns his hand to an early play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane. It's a great play, new to Leicester audiences and it's already doing good business, he said.
It's probably his most popular one but it's yet to be done by me here. It's vicious, very dark, shocking but delightful to watch and delightful to direct.
He also directs this year's Christmas show, Chicago.
It could be considered an odd choice, the long-running West End and touring versions closed not long ago and the touring version was seen at De Montfort Hall.
Why should audiences book to see it at Curve? It's one of my favourite musicals of all time, it was the first show I directed at the Haymarket, said Paul.
I had the privilege of working with Kander and Ebb on 70, Girls, 70 and The Rink, which were both European premieres.
I remember talking to Fred Ebb in the early 90s about Chicago and how frustrated he was that Cabaret was considered their only big hit, but he considered Chicago the better show.
What it took to make Chicago a hit was to pare it down to almost a concert version, very minimal but sexy and sleek, which is the one most people will have seen.
Then the film came out and Fred said that was the show he'd written - set firmly in the jazz era. He said the film had reclaimed the show.
As soon as I heard the tour was coming off I applied for the rights and we will be one of the first new productions.
I want to meet people's expectations but give them a flavour of what the original show was about, with proper sets, the original script unpared, and a taste of the jazz age.
The new season also sees popular visiting shows, including the revival of Matthew Bourne's acclaimed all-male Swan Lake, a new riotous production from Filter of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and the slightly more boisterous cult musical The Rocky Horror Show. Matthew's work is always a sell-out here, so following on from Sleeping Beauty, Dorian Gray, Nutcracker and Play Without Words, we're very excited to see Swan Lake here. As for Rocky Horror, laughs Paul, I'm always thrilled to see that show, and if Riff Raff falls ill on any occasion, even at my age, I'd make sure I had a pair of fishnets available! Curve also marks its fifth birthday with a Gala Concert on Sunday, January 12.
Featuring a selection of extracts from musicals which have performed at Curve, it will star members of the Chicago company and orchestra, plus special guests.
It's going to be a fabulous look back at the past five years of Curve and a look forward to the future in one wonderful evening, he says.
Add children's theatre, comedy one-nighters and dance events and it's a fifth celebration to look forward to.
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