University of Chichester students offer Kander & Ebb’s first and last productions

Students on the University of Chichester’s triple-threat musical-theatre course will present Kander & Ebb’s first and last productions in what they are claiming as a “rare national double-bill coup.”

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 11:36 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 8:21 am
Members of the company
Members of the company

They are staging the duo’s first-ever production Flora The Red Menace and their final production, Curtains at the Alexandra Theatre at the Regis Centre in Bognor.

Spokesman Paul Ackerley said it would give local, regional and national audiences a chance to see these two lesser known productions back to back for the first time in musical theatre history.

Curtains runs from Thursday to Saturday, November 14-16 and Flora The Red Menace runs from Thursday to Saturday, November 21-23.

“Kander & Ebb are now known for their more famous musicals, Cabaret, Chicago and Kiss of the Spiderwoman.

“However it is often said that Flora The Red Menace is their most critically-acclaimed and that Curtains is their funniest, and with the outstanding West End production values of the university’s triple threat companies they are set to give audience a rare insight into the creative genius of these two musical theatre icons.

“Flora The Red Menace opened in the 1960s with a 19-year old Liza Minelli in the title role. She won the Tony, the youngest person to have done so. It features a headstrong heroine and a strong and incredibly-relevant-for-today dose of political content with a heart-melting love story.

“The Flora in the show is Flora Meszaros, a plucky New York fashion illustrator newly graduated and ready to change the world. She aspires to balance her ideals and personal happiness with humanity, romance and a fine set of tunes.

“Curtains is a laugh-out-loud musical send-up of backstage murder mystery plots, set in 1959 Boston.

“The supremely untalented star of the worst kind of hybrid production Robin Hood in the Wild West, is murdered during her opening night curtain call. Step up Detective Lt Frank Cioffi to find the killer before the show reopens.”

Actors Connor Dickson and Daisy Lloyd who play Frank Cioffi and Charlotte respectively are thrilled to be taking part.

Connor said: “We are midway through our training at Chichester and we are really excited to put all that training on the stage. And now that we have been recently given conservatoire status for the quality of our work, the pressure is on to match up to that accolade.

“We’re in safe hands though. The professional creative team we are working with give us so much support and have international credentials themselves so it has been an inspiring journey for us and a fitting start our full-scale public productions. It’s amazing that we get to work with a live band in the pit and such a brilliant technical team, as well. The design is fabulous and the productions are full of such incredible music.”

Flora The Red Menace is directed by Karen Howard (9 to 5 for UOC, Scottish Opera etc). musically directed by Stuart Hutchinson (Lucky Stiff for UOC, ENO, Saddlers Wells etc) and choreographed by Drew Varley (Kiss Me Kate for UOC, Cats as Mungojerrie etc).

Curtains is directed by Sarah Redmond (Merrily We Roll Along for UOC, Bromance, West End), musically directed by Matt Mellor, choreographed by Damien Delaney (9 to 5 for UOC, Ex – The Musical, Soho Theatre).

Both shows are designed by Ryan Dawson Laight (9 to 5, Lucky Stiff for UOC, CFT etc).

The double-bill opens at The Alexandra Theatre, Bognor Regis on Thursday, November 14 and runs until Saturday, November 23.