Theatre in Wales

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Lack of perfect role inspired big band singer to write his own musical     

Lack of perfect role inspired big band singer to write his own musical As a musical theatre actor and singer with a big band, Lee Gilbert could never quite find a role that combined everything he wanted in his ideal part – a great storyline, great songs and that big band sound.

The only answer, it seemed, was to write such a part himself. Along with friend and experienced playwright Steve Coleman, Gilbert did exactly that – and the results will be premiered at Wales Millennium Centre next week.
Come Fly With Me is a new musical comedy, suitable for all the family, evoking the feel of the old MGM musicals, the style of the Rat Pack, and with a soundtrack of familiar swing numbers and ballads from the era.
The musical follows an early-1960s Pan Am air crew who find themselves stranded in Las Vegas. There they must deal with nightclubs, hoodlums, mafia dons and showgirls in a show that is billed “On The Town meets Oceans Eleven”.

Their exploits are accompanied by the 17-piece Rhondda-based Dave Barry Big Band, who will perform live on stage.

Although this is the first time the show will be performed in its entirety, it comes several months after what Gilbert – who is from the Rhondda Valley – calls a “concept performance”, where audiences were treated to a 40-minute taster of the show.

During these developmental performances, Gilbert took the lead role but he is now working more behind the scenes and has enlisted Mark Moraghan to star as pilot Frank Simpson. Best known for his roles in Brookside and Holby City, Moraghan is also a singer and releases his new swing album, Moonlights Back in Style – which he wrote with BBC DJ Nicky Campbell – in the autumn.
Well-known playwright Frank Vickery plays a mafia boss, while the cast features a number of emerging Welsh actors, such as Cathryn Davis, who recently appeared in the UK tour of Little Shop of Horrors and David Colvin, who has just finished touring with an international production of Black Watch, a triple-Olivier award-winning play.

Musical direction comes from Owain Harris, while direction comes from Cardiff-based Richard Tunley, an award-winning director who has previously worked on large-scale outdoor productions with Everyman Theatre, as well as running his own theatre company, Black Rat Productions.

Gilbert said: “Everybody is telling me the production has got legs, that it’s a real feel-good show and something different. We are working on putting together a tour for 2010 so I hope we can get the right people in to see the show and it will grow from here.”

Come Fly With Me is at the Weston Studio, Wales Millennium Centre, on Thursday August 6th at 7pm and Friday August 7th at 2pm and 7pm. For more information, or to book tickets, please call the box office on 08700 40 2000 or visit
web site

Wednesday, July 29, 2009back



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