FOLLOWING hot on the heels of Berwick Operatic Society, who begin the three-night run of their musical-inspired show tonight, The Maltings will pay host to another ‘Night Of Musicals’ on Friday, November 11 with a show direct from London’s West End.
The capital’s theatreland has been the birthplace of many a musical, and the collection of musical classics served up by Michael Courtney and his fellow cast members will transport audiences on a showstopping journey, calling at nearly 40 of the world’s greatest musicals along the way.
Having performed in the crème de la crème of musicals, ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Joseph’ to name but two, Michael is the perfect man to lead the show once again, after previously taking a break to concentrate on producing.
This decision paid dividends as he was named Producer of the Year in 2008 and dubbed ‘outstanding’ by ‘The Stage’. But now he is back centre stage where he belongs and thoroughly enjoying performing some of his favourite songs on a nationwide tour which will have taken in 40 venues by the time it reaches its climax.
“‘A Night Of Musicals’ is a whistlestop tour of the West End and Broadway,” Michael explained.
“Songs from the tried and tested shows are in there as well as excerpts from some newer musicals.
“When it comes to productions like this it’s more about what you leave out rather than what you put in. There’s enough material to make the show 10 hours long but generally if I don’t like a song it won’t go in.
“However, I do have to strike a balance between personal preference and the age of the audience.
“A lot the people who come along to the shows are from the older generations who like the classics so if we did predominantly songs from newer shows we’d be at risk of alienating at least half of the audience.”
But as more and more new musicals earn a place in people’s hearts, the number of youngsters coming along to enjoy ‘A Night Of Musicals’ is starting to increase.
“Our audiences are definitely a lot younger now than they were when I started the show 15 years ago,” said Michael.
“Back then nearly all of the people coming to watch us were 60 plus but now I’m seeing kids in the front row.
“And although they have been panned I think that’s a lot to do with BBC shows like ‘Over The Rainbow’. They’re bringing the genre to a mass audience and anything that gets people interested in going to the theatre is alright in my book. Nothing beats going to watch a live show.”
Since getting his big break as Edmund in a production of Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, Michael has appeared alongside his idols including Gene Pitney and Eric Sykes and cites ‘Sunset Boulevard’ as his personal favourite musical.
“Good music is hard to keep down whether its 10, 25 or 100 years old,” he added.
“And I think that’s why musicals like ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ are still so popular.
“People will always want to hear songs from those two but we try to sandwich a few modern ones in as well.”
Michael will be joined on stage next week by Tamsi Killen, Thomas Lloyd and Lorna Amy Sullivan, who also have sizeable theatrical experience under their belts.