There is an abundance of jukebox musicals, revivals and film adaptions in London theatres, and the secret behind why they have (mostly) proved popular is that the familiarity of the material is appealing to audiences. Most people are attracted by a show which features songs or a story that they already know; but others prefer the new and unknown; it is possible to take the familiar and present it to an audience in a way that makes it appear completely original however. It’s rare, but it can be done. Writer Richard Haley has done just that with his new show, and he’s done it using the most well-known story in history.
Love Beyond makes its London début tomorrow night (Wednesday), and its arrival in town has got everyone talking. This brand-new musical is inspired by the best-selling book of all time, one which has been read by millions of people for hundreds of years: The Bible. Billed as ‘a unique presentation of the greatest love story ever told’, the contemporary show re-tells the story of the bible from God’s creation of Adam and Eve to the resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ with one central theme running throughout it all – love. Following a highly successful première at the Brighton Centre in October 2013, Love Beyond is now being brought to London with a more exciting and expansive version that is to play at the SSE Arena in Wembley for a strictly limited two-show engagement.
The original production in Brighton featured an acclaimed cast which included Simon Shorten (Jesus) and J Marie Cooper (Mary Magdalene), and the London edition is following suit with a veritable buffet of talent. Leading the impressive 29-strong cast is musical theatre veteran Dave Willetts, who will be playing the role of Father God. Having starred as both Valjean in Les Miserables and The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera, he is also known for his performances in such beloved shows as Cats, Sunset Boulevard, Jesus Christ Superstar and Aspects of Love. He is joined by other well-known names, such Paul Ayres (Jesus), Kevin Jones (Saul), Dougie Carter (Adam), Joe Evans (Joseph), Holly-Anna Lloyd (Mary Mother) and Clyde Melville-Bain (Holy Spirit), among many more. The mix of the original cast and new faces will also be accompanied by world class musicians in one of the biggest live orchestras of any musical theatre production ever seen in London.
Love Beyond is written by Richard Haley (who also produces the show) in collaboration with West End star Tabitha Webb, who not only performed in the Brighton production as Mary Mother, but directed it, as too she does the London production. She has played many such stage roles, but is best known for the roles of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera and Cosette in Les Miserables. Choreography is by Annette Aubrey-Bradshaw, with set designs by Sean Cavanagh, lighting designs by Ben Cracknell, sound designs by Mark Payne and musical direction from Stuart Morley.
When Love Beyond premièred in Brighton, it received a standing ovation along with a flood of glowing reviews from theatre critics. Loved by the audience and critics alike, the show’s subsequent performances in the prestigious Wembley venue look set to not only match expectations but exceed them. It’s a well-known fact that a new musical is a tricky vehicle to steer, but the cast and creative team of Love Beyond certainly seem to be heading in the right direction.
Love Beyond plays two special performances at the SSE Arena, Wembley on 1st and 2nd October 2014.
By Julie Robinson: missjulie25
Tuesday 3oth September 2014