On Tuesday (25 March 2008), the £3 million production was halted 20 minutes into the first-night performance at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow, where the show runs until tomorrow, before moving on for a week at the Manchester Opera House. The Opera House has now cancelled its first performance next Tuesday (1 April 2008) to allow for a longer get-in period.
A statement released by the Opera House today explains the need for the day’s postponement to 2 April. “Zorro is a major £3 million production which involves high-level stunts, action scenes, fast-moving choreography and sword fights. The production has an elaborate and complex set and, three weeks into its first tour, the producers feel more technical preparation time is required. The producers are delighted to be bringing the show to Manchester, one of only six cities that will see the show prior to the West End, but the safety of the cast and crew is their priority.”
After Manchester, only one stop – Milton Keynes from 8 to 12 April 2008 – remains on the tour. No dates or venue have yet been announced for the West End transfer. Zorro previewed at Eastbourne on 4 March before premiering at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre on 13 March and then moving on to Southampton and Glasgow.
Even before the Scottish press night was called off mid-performance, there was trouble at the King’s Theatre on Tuesday. Technical hitches, coupled with a fire alarm evacuation, meant the curtain went up an hour late. Glasgow Herald critic Mary Brennan told the newspaper on Wednesday: “The set has been constructed with a West End stage in mind, and they obviously haven’t had enough time to rehearse. If you are going to have fight scenes and high-level action, everyone has to know what they are doing. When you look at the sets – raised stages, high ladders with platforms – and technical credits that include an aerial director, a fight captain and a roll of assistant directors – you get the idea that this going to be pretty spectacular.”
Created in 1919 by pulp writer Johnston McCulley, Zorro – the secret identity of Don Diego de la Vega, a fictional wealthy caballero who defends the people of Spanish California against injustice – has featured in film, TV series, books and comics. Allende’s 2005 novel reveals how the young Diego de la Vega became Zorro, weaving together Spanish and Californian history, Native American legend, mythic folk tales and pirate adventures.
The score by Grammy Award-winning flamenco band the Gipsy Kings includes several of their Latin music hits – “Bamboleo”, “Baila Me” and “Djobi Djoba” – as well as songs written specifically for the show. Zorro is directed by Christopher Renshaw, designed by Tom Piper and choreographed by flamenco dancer and choreographer Rafael Amargo. The creative team also includes co-composer and musical arranger John Cameron and author Stephen Clark.
In the 30-strong cast, Matt Rawle (Evita, Miss Saigon, Martin Guerre, Aspects of Love) takes the title role as the master swordsman, opposite former Royal Ballet principal and choreographer Adam Cooper (Swan Lake, On Your Toes, Singin’ in the Rain, Guys and Dolls as Ramon and Aimie Atkinson, winner of the BBC Voice of Musical Theatre 2006, as Luisa. The actors are joined on stage by leading flamenco dancers.
- by Terri Paddock