Robin Bailey to Lead FEVER PITCH THE OPERA; Casting Announced
Casting for the lead roles in Highbury Opera Theatre's Fever Pitch the Opera is announced today. The production marks 25 years since the iconic book was first published and its first musical staging. Author Nick Hornby has given his blessing to the north London company to create and perform an original musical production based on the novel, which explores the author's obsession with Arsenal Football Club.
The lead role of Gooner, based on Nick Hornby's character in the book, will be performed by Robin Bailey, whose recent roles include the Fox in Vixen (ENO and Silent Opera), Tony in West Side Story for Grange Park/Pimlico Opera, Rodolpho in OperaUpClose's Olivier award-winning production of La Boheme at Soho Theatre and Raoul in Phantom of the Opera for Stage Entertainment in Paris. He previously played Orlando in Highbury Opera Theatre's adaptation of As You like it.
Robin has also sung on a variety of film soundtracks including the forthcoming Mary Poppins Returns, and performs regularly with Gareth Malone's professional choir Voices, including his recent album A Great British Christmas. Robin recently performed backing vocals with Adele for her last touring shows at Wembley Stadium.
Gooner's fellow fan Rat will be performed by NiCK Allen, known to HOT audiences for the title role in the company's inaugural production Tobias and the Angel in 2012. With the Official Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company, Nick played the roles of Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance and Nanki-Poo in The Mikado on its 2014 UK tour.
Mezzo-Soprano Joanna Harries will perform as Girl, a role which embodies a number of the women in Gooner's life. Joanna specialises in performing contemporary music; recent and upcoming appearances include first alto soloist in Macmillan's Seven Last Words From The Cross with the BBC Philharmonic at Harrogate Royal Hall, alto soloist in Handel's Messiah at Lincoln Cathedral, and Bach's Magnificat and Easter Oratorio at the Bach Festival ?widnica in Poland.
Completing the core cast, Robert Gildon will play Gooner's father. His previous roles include Villon in Le Testament de Villon at the London Contemporary Music Festival, Dick in Unborn in America at the Vaults Festival, Frank in Die Fledermaus (St Johns Smith Square), Lord Cecil in Philip Cashian's The Cumnor Affair for Tête à Tête and Captain Corcoran for D'Oyly Carte at the Savoy. He played a journalist in Jonathan Dove's TV opera Man on the Moon for Channel 4. Robert also has a passion for educational work and regularly leads workshops for Streetwise Opera and Snape Maltings.
The core cast will be supported by a large community cast including a children's chorus numbering 40, drawn from local schools.
Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch follows the ups and downs of life supporting Arsenal Football Club, intertwining stories of matches and the fortunes of the club, with those of his own life as a writer. Composer Scott Stroman and librettist Tamsin Collison have re-imagined it as a comedy/drama with musical styles ranging from classical and jazz to terrace chants and folk-rock.
The Arsenal Foundation is supporting the production, funding workshops with local schools that will accompany the show.
Scott Stroman, the company's Artistic Director, is an eclectic composer, conductor and performer who directs the London Jazz Orchestra and regularly works with orchestras including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, opera companies including Opera de Lyon, and pop and world musicians including Phil Collins and Youssou N'Dour. Award-winning librettist Tamsin Collison has worked with the Royal Opera House and Tête á Tête among others. The core creative team will be completed by director Bernie C. Byrnes, who has directed work at Soho Theatre, the RSC, and for several touring shows.
Scott Stroman said: "This will be the opera for people who think that they don't like opera. Though much of it is closer to a 'musical' in style, the music never stops, and like all operas it is driven by the emotions of its main character. Opera is all about the turmoil of its characters, and football provides as much drama, turmoil and comedy as any subject."
Highbury Opera Theatre (HOT) was created in 2011 to bring professionals, amateurs and children together to create exciting performances of contemporary music theatre in Union Chapel and the area. The company's productions have included the fully staged London premier of Kurt Weill's final musical, Lost in the Stars, James MacMillan's opera Clemency, Jonathan Dove's opera Tobias and the Angel, and Stroman's Shakespeare musical As You Like It. The company works closely with local schools to offer in-school workshops and free performances; for its work with young people, the company was recently awarded the prestigious David Bedford Music Education Award from the PRS for Music Foundation.
Sir John Tusa, who has enjoyed a wide-ranging career in arts administration and journalism has recently became a Patron of HOT. Speaking about the production, he said, "Can you imagine anything more daring and ambitious than for a locally-based theatre to commission, create and perform an entirely original work that links our football club, our community and our theatre? I can't. That's why I support it".
22-24 September, 7.30pm (Sat/Sun Matinee 3pm)
Union Chapel, Compton Terrace London N1 2UN
@HighOpTheatre | #feverpitchOpera | www.highburyoperatheatre.com
Core financial support for Fever Pitch the Opera has been provided by Arts Council England, the Nicholas Berwin Charitable Trust, the PRS for Music Foundation, the Arsenal Foundation, and the Daley family in memory of Becky Daley.