Sixteen young singers, aged between 12 and 25, came together to perform as part of York Theatre Royal's Youth Theatre production of Coram Boy, which was presented in-the-round, on the York Theatre Royal main stage, from 26th-28th August 2010. This was the first time that the National Centre for Early Music and York Theatre Royal had run a collaborative project together.
Coram Boy, the Whitbread award winning children's novel by Jamila Gavin, was originally adapted for the stage by Helen Edmundson in 2005. The complex story, set in 18th Century England, follows the lives of a variety of characters, whose paths constantly cross and intertwine. The play centres on the wealthy Ashbrook family and, in particular, young Alexander Ashbrook, whose desire to live and work as a musician against his family's wishes leads to tumultuous relationships and dramatic outcomes.
Music is a vital element of the plot and, as such, the choir played a pivotal role in the production. Working alongside musically trained cast members, the young singers performed excerpts from Handel's Messiah, songs from the original stage adaptation of the play, and new atmospheric compositions.
The choir, which was formed especially for this production, attended three intensive rehearsal days at the National Centre for Early Music and a further two technical and dress rehearsal sessions at York Theatre Royal, prior to Coram Boy's four performance run. The young singers worked under the musical direction of Chris Madin, who has written for film, TV and radio, as well as having composed and directed extensively for live theatre.
Participants were not only given the rare opportunity to perform as part of a large-scale production in this unique layout on York Theatre Royal's main stage; the young singers were also invited to take part in a question and answer session with the book's author, Jamila Gavin, who attended the opening performance.
- I enjoyed it so much and wished it could have lasted for longer.
- I loved all the singing, made new friends and met up with old ones again!
- I enjoyed everything, especially getting to meet new people within the choir and the theatre.
- I'd love to have the opportunity to take part in something similar in future.
- Doing Coram Boy has made me want to join a choir and sing more classical and church music.
- We enjoyed working with all the staff, who were friendly, helpful and got the job done without too much stress or sweat!
- This has inspired me to get some experience of working as a musical director.
- I really enjoyed doing something that I hadn't thought I'd be able to achieve at all.
- I would love to take part in similar projects in the future! Especially with the NCEM.