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Brief Encounter With.. Leicester Curve's Paul Kerryson

Celebrating its 5th birthday this year, Leicester Curve's artistic director Paul Kerryson talks through this summer's community production of Sweeney Todd.

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Sweeney Todd
© Leicester Curve
What can we expect from Sweeney Todd?

Our production of Sweeney Todd will be large scale unusually combining both the Curve stages. It will be a musical thriller in every sense, with gory visual effects and blood curdling sounds, but of course as with every production of Sweeney Todd, attention to musical and character detail is paramount. We also have a large ensemble which will bring a thrilling musical force to the intricate choral harmonies.

How are community productions different and why are they important?

The cast are young but musically very gifted, bringing an exuberant dynamic to their roles. They are all supported by the professional creative and technical expertise of the Curve team. Providing a platform for local talent is one of the main creative pillars of the artistic policy at Curve, and our community musical production is one of several productions that harness this talent. These productions are important for not only providing a platform for our young talent, the ‘stars' of the future, but also bring in new audiences who may discover a great musical like Sweeney Todd for the first time. Many of the performers in our community productions go on to develop their talents at drama schools, and some have returned to Curve as full professionals. The production also allow our technical staff, the design teams of the future, to step forward into the creative process

How did you choose Sweeney Todd for this year's community production?

The last two years have seen West Side Story and Oliver! both playing to packed houses. Several choices for this year's production were put forward to the young people, and Sweeney Todd came through as an exciting challenge for the company. The recent film has certainly brought this great musical to the attention of a wider and younger audience.

Out of all the productions you've been a part of at the Curve which has been your favourite?

That truly is a difficult one to answer as I genuinely always enjoy every production that I work on, but I suppose the first production I directed at Curve 5 years ago, using the unusual Curve technology and space for the first time was a great thrill. The building design had been in the imagination for several years, and then the privilege of living through and surviving the intense building phase for two years and seeing the inspiration of the architect come to fruition was a once in a life time experience. Then to choose a controversial title for my own inaugural production which turned out to be the hit of the first season was a personal memorable moment for me. The play was The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh starring a very great friend Marc Warren.

Your Christmas show this year is Chicago, how will this differ from other recent productions of that show?

I have only every seen one stage production of Chicago, and that was the recent global success which started out as a concert version in 1996 but then totally revived the fortunes of this show which had its premiere back in 1975. As with every revival of any musical, we will bring a new look and feel to the show reflected by a new creative team, and working on the original script- but I hope our production of Chicago will still be what it has always been since 1975, a supremely sexy and witty show by my musical heroes John Kander and Fred Ebb. It is especially good to get to do a new production of Chicago having had the great joy of working with Kander and Ebb many years ago on the European premieres of two of their other less well known musicals, The Rink and 70 Girls 70 at Chichester.

Do you have any future plans for musicals, other than Chicago, at the Curve?

We do have musicals planned for the next year and beyond including two new musicals - but like all directors can only reveal these at the appropriate launch moments!

What would be your dream show to direct?

One on the list, which may always remain a dream, is Dreamgirls.

What does the future hold for Leicester Curve?

After a couple of tricky initial years, Curve is now thriving. Audiences seem to have fallen in love with the building and the programme which now reflects a much wider variety of art forms and performance genres- especially dance. Desh, a new dance piece, was created at Curve by Akram Khan and went on to win the Olivier award and is on a world tour. Harvey Weinstein chose to produce a new musical, Finding Neverland, at Curve and many recent productions including Piaf and The Hired Man have completely sold out. As with any venue, there are inevitable ups and downs, hits and misses, but if Curve continues to be innovative in its programming, the current success will continue. Leicester is immensely proud of Curve, and our extensive participatory programme and community engagement strategy with productions like Sweeney Todd will also develop young talent and develop the audiences for the future.

Curve's Community Production of Sweeny Todd runs from 30 July – 11 August. For tickets or further information visit www.curveonline.co.uk or call 0116 242 3595.