Theatre giant's praise for Orwell musical

Alan Gregory and his team are creating a spectacular musical about George Orwell
Alan Gregory and his team are creating a spectacular musical about George Orwell

A giant of musical theatre has given his backing to an ambitious new show taking shape in Wigan on the life and work of George Orwell.

Sir Tim Rice, who has provided the words for a host of iconic musicals, has sent a message of support for Beyond Wigan Pier which is being put together by Ince musician Alan Gregory and his team.

Sir Tim Rice

Sir Tim Rice

The legendary lyricist received a copy of the show’s love duet Look at Me from Alan and was quick to send praise for it back to Wigan.

The endorsement has put a spring in the step of everyone preparing for this spring’s premiere concert performance as Sir Tim’s career work includes the lyrics to Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, The Lion King and Chess.

And his support comes just a few days before an open audition event gives every Wiganer the chance to get involved in theproduction.

Sir Tim, who has had many collaborations with Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber, said: “The song sounds good and contemporary and is beautifully performed.

“If all the songs are as good as Look at Me then half the battle is won.”

The song has been released to drum up interest in the musical, which receives a glittering first performance in April: appropriately at the new Wigan Pier-based venue at The Edge.

Composer Alan was thrilled to have his song, which is performed by Wigan singer Scott Chapman and the borough’s X-Factor star Olivia Garcia, acclaimed by Sir Tim.

He said: “Hopefully this will turn a few heads.

“I’m thrilled to bits and so are the singers. For once I was nearly speechless when I saw his reaction.

“He was very complimentary about Olivia and Scott and I just hope his words have an effect.”

Beyond Wigan Pier are now inviting anyone living in the borough or born in Wigan and now residing elsewhere to be put through their paces to compete for the final roles in the cast.

Open auditions are being held at Tina’s Dance Studios in Springfield for the leading character Mrs Brooker, who owns a tripe shop and is also a landlady.

The team is also looking to find an older salesman who will duet with Scott at one point, a caravan girl, members of a working class family and several college lads.

For those whose support for culture goes no further than the audience the musical team is also crowd-funding in a campaign which is the only way to get a seat for the first performance.

Donations range from £5 for a name on the credits to £75 for VIP packages and there is also a philanthropy pass enabling people who can’t be there on the night to pick up seats for someone else.

The crowd-funding campaign will also demonstrate public interest in the show when Alan and his team approach Arts Council England for money to stage a full theatrical production in 2020.

The open auditions are on Thursday February 22 between 10am and 8pm at Tina’s Dance Studios on Throstlenest Avenue, Springfield.

To donate or find out more, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/beyond-wigan-pier-1