Posted: Friday, 20th April 2012
INTERNATIONALLY-celebrated composer Carl Davis is to be a regular visitor to MMU while in rehearsals for his breathtaking new musical.
The Last Train to Tomorrow tells the heartbreaking story of the Kindertransport – the pre-War evacuation by train of 10,000 Jewish children from Europe to England which saved them from the Holocaust.
Composed and conducted by New York-born Carl, the musical is to be directed by David Shirley, head of the acting course, and features six undergraduates from our acclaimed degree course.
The star-struck six - Jack Coen, Amy Cameron, Lucas Smith, Will Finlayson, Sinead Parker and Lowenna Melrose – will appear in the musical world premiere at the Bridgewater Hall, just three weeks before they graduate at the same venue.
Explained Carl: “The MMU School of Theatre was recommended through the Hallé as a place with a very high reputation in theatrical circles in England, with some terrific students.
“I wanted young actors to play some of the older children, moved during the Kindertranport. Some of those who left for England were 17 or thereabouts, so I was looking for young actors who were still believable as children.”
Speaking at the first of several rehearsals at the voice studio in Mabel Tylecote, the 75-year-old BAFTA winning composer said the first run through had gone as well as expected; “I’ll be coming here quite a few times and the students are doing well. I want to see how elements knit together, how to pace it and such like. Hopefully I’ve started to give the actors a feel for the music.
But he confessed it was a tough first session: “Obviously they’ve studied the script, but it’s a heart-wrenching story and hearing the music for the first time, it’s quite emotional. There were a few tears, I think.
Amy Cameron agreed: “I think I got a bit tearful, yes. When he was playing I was transfixed. We’ve looked at the script for a few weeks but hearing our words with Carl’s piano was terrific and an emotional moment.
Fellow actor Jack Coen, added: “Its unbelievable. To work with an internationally acclaimed composer is such a fantastic opportunity.”
The six students admit they’ve a challenge preparing for the premiere, while also appearing at forthcoming shows at the Capitol Theatre – including Punk Rock and Twelfth Night – and finishing their degrees!
But David Shirley, who met Carl through the Hallé last year, is confident they can cope: “We auditioned all final years for the parts and selected six for their versatility, as they will be multi-roling as children, parents, narrators, and also station guards
“Their profiles had to map what Carl was looking for musically and what I was seeking in terms of interpretation.
“It’s a great opportunity for them and for myself too. Working with Carl is just fantastic.”
The Last Train to Tomorrow is commissioned by the Hallé for the Hallé’s virtuoso Children’s Choir and will premiere at The Bridgewater Hall on Sunday 17 June, 2012. Tickets will go on sale in Spring 2012 as part of the Hallé’s Summer Promenade Concert Season.