Buxton Opera House CEO looking ahead to two major productions next year

Buxton Opera House’s CEO Paul Kerryson is looking ahead to two major productions next year which he hopes will help to continue to put our town on the theatre map.

Paul Kerryson, CEO of Buxton Opera House
Paul Kerryson, CEO of Buxton Opera House

Next year’s opera house programme will feature another musical as part of the Buxton International Festival (BIF), directed by Paul, as well as another show set to involve the local community.

Paul will be working jointly with BIF to direct Gypsy: A Musical Fable which will open on July 7, 2022.

He said: “It is one of the best musicals out there and I’m really looking forward to directing it.”

Paul, who previously worked at the Curve Theatre in Leicester, has directed Gypsy before but is looking forward to putting the show on for Buxton’s annual festival.

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    He said: “It’s been a long time since this show was done by anyone so I think there will be a real appetite for it and people will want to see it on the stage once more.”This is the second time the festival and the opera house have teamed up for a production, after joining forces for the 2021 festival for their first ever musical production, A Little Night Music, which was well received by both critics and the public.

    Gypsy: A Musical Fable is a 1959 musical with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

    It is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, and focuses on her mother, Rose, whose name has become synonymous with the ultimate show business mother.

    It follows the dreams and efforts of Rose to raise two daughters to perform onstage and casts an affectionate eye on the hardships of showbusiness life.

    Gypsy is set to be a highlight of the 2022 festival, combining bitingly witty lyrics by Stephen Sondheim with truly memorable songs including Let Me Entertain You, Everything’s Coming Up Roses, You Gotta Have a Gimmick and Some People.

    Paul said: “It has some great well known songs and I think Gypsy’s mother is the best musical character ever written as she has such an amazing song. Her performance of Rose’s Turn always takes my breath away.”

    Auditions for cast members are still taking place and the leading names will be announced after Christmas.

    "We don’t know yet who will be taking on the iconic roles, I’m as excited as you to find out,” Paul said.But Gypsy is not the only show Paul will be at the helm of next year.

    Buxton Opera House will also be putting on a community production of Sweeney Todd The Musical.

    Following in the footsteps of West Side Story, Oliver and Rent, the show will feature people from the High Peak with only amateur experience or no experience.

    Paul said: “We had youngsters who had never acted before but had an interest in either acting or the technical side of putting on a show and it sparked something for them and they have now gone away and secured places at drama schools which is amazing.”

    Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street is a musical thriller with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Todd arrives in London following deportation and imprisonment in Australia, seeking blood thirsty revenge. A chance meeting with Mrs Lovett in her East End pie shop brings a deadly accomplice to his schemes, with an outrageously humorous and chilling plan.

    Paul said: "I’m very excited about Sweeney Todd. Stephen Sondheim has done the music and I’m directing. It really will be a professionally produced show by people from our community for people in our community and I think that’s so important.

    "Our wonderful theatre is part of the community. We know the big comedians like Alan Carr, Ross Noble and Michael Mcntyre always sell out but we want to attract everyone to the opera house so it’s my job to put on a mixed calendar of events from comedians to musicals to drama and community productions.

    "This opera house belongs to the people of Buxton and the High Peak and just like with our Platform 3 project where we want to connect more people to the arts, it's important to open the doors and put the community on the stage too.

    "It’s events like this which really put Buxton on the theatre map.

    "Some may say it is already on the map but we need to continue to try new things to keep our place and be a theatre people want to work in and perform on.”

    Open auditions for Sweeney Todd will be in January 2022.

    Paul said: “We were unsure when we were first reopening up what the theatre experience would be like but people want to come out and enjoy themselves.

    "I think local tourism has benefited greatly from people not going abroad but treating themselves to a show here and there.

    "We have wonderful restaurants and hotels in Buxton and parking close by which is making the opera house a popular choice for visitors from further afield which is great news for the town.

    "There is nothing more I like than seeing people’s faces as they walk into the theatre ready to enjoy themselves.

    "And luckily there is lots to look forward to and enjoy next year.”For full dates, more details and tickets for Gypsy: A Musical Fable or for more information about the production of Sweeney Todd and auditions visit https://buxtonoperahouse.org.uk/.