Internationally renowned theatre designers help bring Buxton International Festival's first ever musical to life

On July 8 the curtain at Buxton Opera House will rise for the first time in months as A Little Night Music opens with global talent not just on the stage but behind the scenes too.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 9:18 am

Phil R Daniels and Charles Cusick Smith will be bringing the production by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler to life with their wonderful costumes and set designs for Buxton International Festival’s first ever musical production.

The Gloucester duo, who run Upstage Design, have been waiting two years to put on the show because of Covid and Phil, who has designed sets for shows all around the world, said: “I’d forgotten how much I missed being part of a production.

"From the painters to the carpenters and the makeup artists there is so much more that goes in to a show than just the actors you see on stage.”

Charles Cusick Smith and Phil R Daniels who run Upstage Design who are doing the sets and costumes for A Little Night Music for the Buxton International Festival.
Charles Cusick Smith and Phil R Daniels who run Upstage Design who are doing the sets and costumes for A Little Night Music for the Buxton International Festival.

During lockdown work continued with virtual catch-ups and costume designer Charles, who also has international recognition, says the first fitting for the cast will be the dress rehearsal.

The 64-year-old said: “Covid has meant you have to think differently, props can’t be passed from actor to actor and clothes can’t be touched for days after they’ve been worn.”

The pair met Paul Kerryson, who is now the CEO of the opera house, in 1982 and are working with him again for A Little Night Music.

"It’s like a big reunion,” said Phil, who will turn 64 on the opening night.

Charles Cusick Smith and Phil R Daniels who run Upstage Design who are doing the sets and costumes for A Little Night Music for the Buxton International Festival.

It has been a tough time for those in the theatre business recently and Phil and Charles said it is not just them who are excited to be back but the whole cast and crew.

Phil said: “There is an appetite for people wanting to come back to the theatre.

“A show is a living organism and the audience are part of that.

"The actors feel the emotions of the people watching.”

Charles Cusick Smith and Phil R Daniels who run Upstage Design who are doing the sets and costumes for A Little Night Music for the Buxton International Festival.

This is the first time the Festival will feature a musical alongside its opera and classical programming and Charles has created stylised costumes for the look.

He added: “It’s got a beautiful feel to it and when the first notes happen there really is a wow factor.

"We created a vision that is dream-like with the costumes and sets which works really well.”

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