Islington is both the stage and scene for a new musical that uses the voices of past and present residents to turn a slice of local history into an operatic adventure. This week, Young Actors Theatre, a charity that encourages young people to explore their dramatic potential, brings Islington – The Opera to the stage.
With a cast made up of 6-22 years olds from a broad range of backgrounds, the storyline follows a group of young people who inadvertently raise the ghost of world-famous clown and entertainer Joseph Grimaldi, who lived and died in the borough and is buried on Pentonville Street. From thereon, the musical takes the audience on a journey where they see the group join forces with Islington locals, both dead and alive, to thwart the dastardly machinations of the sinister Signor.
Created through workshops and interviews with members of Islington’s community, the production puts a strong emphasis on the borough’s people. As Andrew Harries, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Young Actors Theatre says, “community is at the heart of this production” and with “a new score, a new script and a brand new approach to opera, not only are we introducing our actors and the local community to a new genre, we’re also celebrating Joseph Grimaldi and Islington’s history”.
A libretto by Peter Cann and music by Simon Fraser complete the production. London story, London community, London performers. We’re fans already.
Islington – The Opera is at Young Actors Theatre, 70-72 Barnsbury Road, Islington from Thursday 20 – Saturday 22 February, with a special gala performance at Islington Assembly Hall on 19 February. Tickets cost £12/£8 and can be booked via the Box Office on 020 7278 2101.