Cen­tre­point choir quest un­der­way

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - RICHARD MAYS

So, let’s get this right – Cen­tre­point is putting on a play that has just two ac­tors, but re­quires 17 choirs?

That’s what artis­tic di­rec­tor Jeff Kings­ford-Brown is propos­ing for the theatre’s end of July/ Au­gust slot.

The theatre’s sec­ond Open Stage pro­duc­tion fol­low­ing 2015’s suc­cess­ful com­mu­nity pro­duc­tion of Franken­stein is a pro­duc­tion of David Greig’s 2013 play The Events.

The Scot­tish play­wright and di­rec­tor of the Scot­tish Na­tional Theatre wrote the witty and evoca­tive Mid­sum­mer – a play with songs that Cen­tre­point pro­duced last year.

‘‘In­stead of us­ing com­mu­nity ac­tors for our Open Stage pro­duc­tion, we’ll be us­ing com­mu­nity choirs,’’ Jeff says. But 17? ‘‘Well, that’s the num­ber of per­for­mances, and each per­for­mance calls for a dif­fer­ent choir with be­tween 15 and 30 mem­bers,’’ Jeff ex­plains. ‘‘It’s im­por­tant that the choirs come to the work with­out know­ing too much about what’s go­ing on.’’

In other words, the choirs can re­hearse the songs and ar­range­ments, but don’t get to read the script.

‘‘Each per­for­mance will fea­ture a dif­fer­ent com­mu­nity choir on stage with the ac­tors for the first time, ex­cept for a par­tial re­hearsal a few hours be­fore­hand with mu­si­cal di­rec­tor Roger Buchanan.

‘‘One of the ac­tors plays a com­mu­nity choir di­rec­tor and will lead them in one of their own songs, which should be an up­lift­ing one, and five or six other spe­cially com­posed songs along with How Great Thou Art.

‘‘The choirs are par­tic­i­pants as well as spec­ta­tors to what hap­pens in the play. It’s a re­ally in­ter­est­ing way of telling a story.’’

Re­cruit­ing choirs has gone rea­son­ably well so far, even if Jeff has had to spread the net wider than Palmer­ston North. As well as city choirs, which in­clude a cou­ple of scratch out­fits formed for the pro­duc­tion, he has singing groups from Whanganui, Dan­nevirke, Wairarapa and Tau­maranui signed up to take part.

‘‘For the choirs, it’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent from how they usu­ally ap­proach things, and be­cause it’s so dif­fer­ent, they jumped at it.’’

There is still room for a cou­ple more com­mu­nity cho­ral groups to be in the show di­rected by Lara Mc­Gre­gor from Christchurch. In­ter­ested groups should con­tact Jeff at Cen­tre­point.

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