Theatre in Wales

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Night at the Casablanca     

Night at the Casablanca

The legendary Casablanca Club, Tiger Bay, will see live music thrive again on Saturday 1 November 2014 as Wales Millennium Centre presents a celebration of the life of the iconic music venue and the rich musical heritage of the remarkable local community.

From 1965, the Casablanca was a central space to congregate and share a love of music in Tiger Bay, drawing in famous artists from all over to perform. Owing to its prominence in the lives of Tiger Bay locals, the venue still holds a place in the heart of the community and there is a deep, shared sadness over its loss when it was demolished to make way for a car park.

Night at the Casablanca will be the opening performance of Wales Millennium Centre’s 10th anniversary programme. A Wales Millennium Centre community production, presented in association with Lloyds Bank.

Through a series of stories and live music, Night at the Casablanca will bring the renowned Club Casablanca back to life in a celebration of the vibrant musical legacy it gave a home to, along with the venue’s centrality in the Tiger Bay community.

Currently in production by Wales Millennium Centre, Night at the Casablanca will tell the story of a former Butetown resident who, on returning to Butetown with London friends, visits the Casablanca for the first time in years, prompting a recollection of memories about the venue. As the performance unfolds, true stories and experiences – gathered from Butetown residents – are retold, highlighting the Casablanca’s prominence at the heart of local lives and events. Set to memorable live music from across the second half of the last centrury, the performance will move through the decades offering scenes from the Casablanca Club, Loudon Square and the homes of the local Butetown residents.

DJ Keith Murrell, who has been deeply involved in Cardiff’s music scene for the last 40 years and is assisting in the production of Night at the Casablanca, commented: "The Casablanca Club was absolutely central to my own musical education - and pivotal in the musical history of Cardiff, even Wales. But more than this: the interactions, friendships and affinities have had a profound and lasting impact on many who remember the Casa B with affection and pride ... I want to help recreate those sounds and vibes as much as I can. I'm particularly happy to be working with Wales Millennium Centre in recognition of the support they have given to Butetown Carnival this year and I look forward to the Centre's continuing work in Butetown throughout the 10th Anniversary and beyond."

Wales Millennium Centre’s Artistic Director, Graeme Farrow, said: ‘I was very keen that we start our celebrations with our neighbours. The Butetown community has an incredible cultural heritage and rich and powerful stories to tell. We want Butetown to proudly celebrate this on the Donald Gordon stage.’

The creative team members behind the project include Paula Gardiner – Musical director, Nicky Delgado – Writer and Keith Murrell – Musical Advisor.

Wales Millennium Centre and the Butetown Community Centre recently hosted a gathering where locals were invited to share their memories of Club Casablanca and their tales of Tiger Bay.

One of the stories which was shared with the group was from local Butetown resident - Wibidi, who said “It was the place where you wanted to be. We just wanted to be down the Casablanca, go down there early, and stand by the side of the door wait for the doorman to be busy and run in the Casablanca, sit and hide in the in the corner, sit there and not make a noise, and be mesmerised and blown away by all these people coming in. The characters and the talent, the likes of Pino Palladino. All the best Welsh musicians, best musicians that this country has ever had played there, there’s too many to mention.”

He continued “It became the centre of our lives, because it was a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday thing. It was amazing. You’d have a live night on a Wednesday and DJ’s on a Thursday. You had that DJ/live balance –it was perfect, you’d have the DJ play first, then the DJ would stop, then the bands would come on, and then the bands would stop, then the DJ would play on. Then you’d be all smooching, we all use to smooch together, that’s what it was all about see.”

Night at the Casablanca shows for one night only on 1 November 2014 at Wales Millennium Centre. Tickets are now sale (£15 in advance, £17 on the door). Visit www.wmc.org.uk for information and tickets.
 
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