Canadian Stage to Present LONDON ROAD, 1/19-2/9
Canadian Stage brings England's London Road to Toronto with North American premiere of 5-star musical documentary Written by Alecky Blythe and Tony Award-winning composer Adam Cork; directed by Jackie Maxwell at the Bluma Appel Theatre January 19 to February 9, 2014 Toronto, ON - Canadian Stage presents the North American premiere of London Road, the captivating 5-star hit from the UK created by playwright Alecky Blythe and set to music Tony Award-winning composer Adam Cork. Part musical, part documentary, the new Canadian production is directed by the Shaw Festival's artistic director Jackie Maxwell with music direction by Reza Jacobs. Featuring a stellar ensemble cast (Sean Arbuckle, Damien Atkins, Ben Carlson, Michelle Fisk, Deborah Hay, George Masswohl, Julain Molnar, Glynis Ranney, Fiona Reid, Steve Ross and Shawn Wright) London Road transforms the stage at the Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front St. E) from January 19 to February 9, 2014.
"London Road is unlike any piece of musical theatre I have ever encountered. Bringing this brilliantly constructed, emotionally dense work to Canadian Stage is a project that has been 24 months in the making," said Matthew Jocelyn, artistic and general director, Canadian Stage. "Under the careful direction of Jackie and Reza, a cast of Canada's best musical theatre performers will bring this remarkable composition to life - connecting with audiences in an entirely new way."
London Road documents the events of 2006, when the everyday life of the quiet rural town of Ipswich, England was shattered by the discovery of the bodies of five prostitutes. Residents of London Road had long struggled with frequent soliciting and kerb-crawling on their street; when Steve Wright, the occupant of No. 79, was arrested, charged and then convicted of the murders, the community found itself at the epicentre of this tragedy.
As Ipswich was vilified by the press, with London Road under constant national (and international) media scrutiny, Blythe recorded extensive interviews with residents and turned them into an intelligent, startling, raw piece of theatre. Cork used the melodic speech patterns captured in each interview to set these words to music in an unprecedented and totally unique way. Following its critically-acclaimed premiere and remount at The National Theatre in London in 2011, the Canadian Stage production of London Road reveals the ways in which even the darkest experiences can inspire a community.
Using the verbatim technique created by Blythe for the original production, in an unusual initial rehearsal process, the Canadian cast of actor/singers will learn the show by listening to and repeating the original interview recordings - mirroring the exact way the words were first spoken with the help of dialect coach Jane Gooderham. To prepare for the project, director Jackie Maxwell met with the playwright to hone this approach and discuss the production. Even the music for the show is verbatim, written to capture the natural spoken rhythms and inflections of each interviewee's voice, presenting a challenge unlike any other in the music theatre canon. Music director Reza Jacobs meticulously teaches each song one bar at a time, making sure that each complex bar of music is mastered before moving on to the next.
"Working on this extraordinary piece is making all of us approach our work in new and very different ways," said Maxwell. "It is both scary and exhilarating, and is absolutely essential to be able to honestly and authentically tell this story about a group of people who came together because of a series of horrific events, and found a way to celebrate a way out. London Road is about a community that could exist anywhere."
Judith Bowden's production design was inspired by news coverage and photos taken at the time of the Ipswich trials. True to the documentary style of the script, the set and costume designs have to recreate the town and its citizens, yet also must allow seamless movement from outside on the street to living rooms, bars, malls and other city locales. Lighting by Kevin Lamotte and sound design by John Lott add character to the bustling British town.
An interactive childcare program, facilitated by Improv Care, will be offered at the theatre during the January 26 matinee (pre-registration required), with free pre-show talks as well as post-show talkbacks held before and after select performances. On February 1, Canadian Stage welcomes residents from the Glendower neighbourhood to a special performance of London Road as part of an urban planning and sustainable models workshop with Art Starts and No9. For a schedule and details visit: www.canadianstage.com/online/beyondthestage
London Road will be on stage at the Bluma Appel Theatre in the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts (27 Front St. E.). Performances run Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. The performance is approximately two hours and 10 minutes with an intermission. Tickets from $24 to $99 are available online, by phone at 416.368.3110 or in person at the box office. For details visit www.canadianstage.com.
Single tickets and subscription packages for the 2013.2014 season are now available with 4-show packages starting at $98 and 10-show packages starting at $272. Single tickets start at $24, with C-Stage Under 30 tickets available for $15 (taxes and fees included). Discount tickets are available thanks to Sun Life Financial, Discount Ticket Programs Sponsor. Subscriptions and tickets may be purchased by phone at 416.368.3110, in person at Canadian Stage's Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front St. E.) or Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley St.) or online at www.canadianstage.com.