Theatre in Wales

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West End stars of music theatre will top the bill for a night of songs from hit musicals spanning the 1920's to 1950's at the Borough Theatre, Abergavenny on Sunday, 17 July.

Michael McCarthy - who has played in Les Miserables more than anyone worldwide - is joined by Claire Hammacott of Phantom of the Opera fame and Seann Alderking, European musical supervisor of Mamma Mia!

The line-up also features popular opera tenor Robyn Lyn-Evans, well-known sopranos Stephanie Benavente and Julie Brooks with musical direction by Seann Alderking and Jeanette Massocchi.

The stars have been brought together to stage Glamorous Nights - a benefit concert for Gwent Young People's Theatre - by former West End music theatre director Ken Caswell.

Ken now lives and works in Wales and directed Cymru for the World which formed the opening night of Cardiff's Millennium Centre with Bryn Terfel, Sir Derek Jacobi, Robert Hardy, Sian Phillips and Caroline Sheen.

He is currently working on a new show with Welsh TV presenter Sian Cothi and the Cardiff choir Only Men Allowed for a national tour in the autumn.

Born in Brynmawr and brought up in Tredegar, he is a former member of Gwent Young People's Theatre and has organised the benefit to raise funds for productions to celebrate the company's 50th birthday next year.

Glamorous Nights features words and music by Noel Coward, Ivor Novello and Franz Lehar.

Songs from the hit musicals Bitter Sweet, The Desert Song and Kings Rhapsody will be followed by excerpts from Lehar's Merry Widow to mark the 100th anniversary of the popular work whose first performance was in Vienna in 1905.

"It's going to be a stunning night evoking nostalgic memories of very fine musical works," says Ken. "The songs are national treasures and the singers and musicians performing them are at the top of their profession."

Baritone Michael McCarthy won worldwide fame for his powerful portrayal of Inspector Javert in Les Miserables. He subsequently stood in for Bryn Terfel at the Faenol Festival filmed for BBC . Concerts include performances with opera diva Lesley Garrett and Friends, The Music of Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber, and Night of 100 Stars at the London Palladium.

Soprano Claire Hammacott followed her appearance in Les Miserables in the West End with the lead role of Christine in Phantom of the Opera and sang at the opening gala of the new Millenium Arts Centre.

Pianist Seann Alderking - who trained at the Yehudi Menuhin and Juillard Schools - has performed as a soloist with orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic. His repertoire ranges from Mozart and Rachmaninov to Gershwin and Schonberg. He collaborated with the latter on Miss Saigon Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra based on the themes from the musical. Other theatre work includes Carousel and Oklahoma in London and Cymru for the World at the Millennium Centre for which he was the principal orchestrator.

Opera tenor Robin Lyn-Evans - who performed at last year's benefit for GYPT winning outstanding ovations - is a former International Young Singer of the Year at the Llangollen International Esteddfod and has picked up many awards including best tenor at the National Mozart Competition. His repertoire ranges from Bach to Weber and roles include Don José in Carmen, Gerald in Lakmé, Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Tony in West Side Story and Marco in The Gondoliers.

Newport-born soprano Stephanie Benavente is well known to Welsh audiences and has a wide career in musical theatre, radio, television, recording studios and concerts. She is a highly respected singing teacher and vocal coach.

Julie Brooks was an original member of GYPT and trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She and her late husband Melville Thomas and Jeanette Massocchi formed The Good Companions touring Gwent with Music Hall and she is a frequent performer on BBC radio. Jeanette Massocchi is a vocal coach for some of the country's finest young singers including Robyn Lyn Evans.

All proceeds from the concert will be used to support the costs of staging up to six productions during 2006 for the 50th birthday of GYPT.

Tickets are £10 and £8 from the Borough Theatre, Abergavenny, Tel 01873 850805.
Gwent Theatre  
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Monday, July 11, 2005back



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