Simon Callow & IDA’s Sarah Lark Rescue New Musical???Date: 31 July 2008
You may not have heard of young composer Conor Mitchell, but you’ll have definitely heard of some of his fans – amongst them, actor-director Simon Callow, West End leading lady Sally Ann Triplett and I’d Do Anything finalist Sarah Lark – who have banded together to save his musical Mathilde at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
Just a month ago, it looked like Mathilde - commissioned two years ago by the London Academy of Music and Drama (LAMDA), where Mitchell is the first composer-in-residence – was destined to remain an eternally hidden gem after Central School of Speech and Drama backed out of mounting it at the festival. But Mitchell’s industry fans stepped in with a slot at the new Musical Theatre @ George Square, producing and PR services all offered for free.
Then Simon Callow, who’s performing his own solo show A Festival Dickens at this year’s Fringe, stepped in to direct and assembled a stellar cast: with Frances Ruffelle (a very last-minute replacement for Anna Francolini), Nigel Richards and Anton Stephens joining Triplett and Lark amongst the principals.
Based on Guy de Maupassant’s La Parure (The Necklace) with its surprise twist ending, Mathilde tells the story of a 19th-century Parisienne who, believing she has been born into the wrong social class, borrows a diamond necklace from her rich friend to attend a grand ball with her loveless husband.
Open auditions for chorus members to join the stars in the cast will be held on 14 August 2008 in Edinburgh, ahead of the musical’s showcase at George Square from 21 to 24 August. And, according to 23-year-old fledging producer Thomas Hopkins, it won’t end there. He says that, beyond being one of the festival highlights, he hopes that this will “begin a long and fruitful journey for the production”.