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L-R: John Conway as Sir Richard and Gerard Fletcher as Sir Henry, The Crooked Spire. Pic: Tom Humphries
The story was born out of a previous pandemic, in the 14th century, in our local community. The musical contains much to entertain and keep the audience on the edge of their seats; multiple murders, a great deal of mystery and beautifully composed music which helps convey the narrative and emotion of each scene.
Thanks to the imagination of the author Chris Nickson, it is a heart-warming tale beautifully delivered by an eclectic set of characters brought to life by the talented bunch of performers.
The actors were a wonderful blend! From cheeky Walter, played by the young Eddie Waller; to the principal character, John the carpenter, played with great charisma by Adam Stickler; to Beth, the widow, portrayed with a maturity beyond her years, by Clara Coslett. These three I am sure will go far and enjoy enormous success.
Music and dialogue flowed seamlessly, with lyrics about justice and truth, to those of a romantic lilt, on to despair and back again. There are some particularly good episodes, one a stunning musical delivery between the brothers Sir Richard and Sir Henry, played by the accomplished John Conway and Gerard Fletcher. Poles apart in their morals, the two brothers are at loggerheads, but brothers at heart nonetheless, as their catchy duet points out.
A similarly enjoyable and titillating comic duet by Martha, John’s landlady, and her former love interest, Brother Robert, was performed with aplomb by Stephanie Putson and Philip Meeks, with Hayley Mitchell too, giving a very convincing portrayal of the stoicism and at the same time, vulnerability, of Katherine…..what an evocative voice!
Choreographers and musicians (the latter graced the stage all through the show) deserve every accolade for presenting a thoroughly professional and dynamic performance.
Some of the music was reminiscent of Les Misérables: the lyrics were powerful, the delivery clear and passionate. All credit to Mary Hennessy for her witty script; to Martin Coslett and Peter Gray for their musical creativity and also, to musical director, Harry Style, for translating their work into something truly “Wonderful” for the stage.
I could sit through the whole production again and enjoy it no less. But sadly, it has run its course at The Pomegranate Theatre. I hope that this production will have further success in towns and cities throughout Britain. It deserves further airing!
Review by Pat Seymour.
Pat is a former teacher and a member of the Newbold Scribblers writing group in Chesterfield. She is currently writing her autobiography.
Katherine (Hayley Mitchell) and Beth (Clara Coslett) in The Crooked Spire . Photo Lu Herbert
Saturday Evening 21st May 2022
The Crooked Spire, brilliant, I really enjoyed it, so much to mention.
I’ll start with what a fantastic show. All the actors played their part well and were convincing in their roles.
We immediately took to John, surely he couldn’t have done it? Geoffrey was a bad lot, that was obvious despite only short appearances. Then there was Mark, an angry young man if ever we saw one. Oh, who could be a murderer. There were a few choices some more menacing than others. I was convinced I knew.
Walter played by young Eddie Waller was exceptional. A confident actor, his singing was perfect and added to that cheeky grin I think there may be a future star in the making.
The songs, Seize the Day, To be a Journeyman and Wonderful were particular favourites. The ladies sang beautifully, each of their performances strong and full of emotion.
Then to the stage. It amazes me that an image, a hint of something can be created with so little scenery. Ropes draped, a huge metal circle to represent the Windlass and wooden planks used to full advantage. At times we actually felt as if we were inside the spire. A constant wisp of haze added extra atmosphere and a sense of dusty days working in and around the new spire.
The story is of course based on and about the Chesterfield Spire and mention of the locality makes it familiar, but I do feel this Medieval Murder Mystery Musical, with its message of love, friendship and trust would work well in other towns.
Joyce Janes, writer
A scene from The Crooked Spire musical. Picture by Tom Humphries.
Thursday 19th May 2022 was certainly ‘a day to be seized’ by anyone who loves Chesterfield’s iconic Crooked Spire and legendary Pomegranate Theatre. Our medieval market town’s fascinating cultural history – and endearing ability to punch above its regional weight – were made manifest in superb style during the opening performance of: ‘The Crooked Spire – A Medieval Murder-Mystery Musical’.
Adapted from a book of the same name by northern writer Chris Nickson, the show is the fruit of almost four years’ hard toil by an intrepid team of creatives led by Producer Martin Coslett: a time in which plague – an all too familiar reality in the story’s 14th century genesis – returned to dominate the lives and careers of today’s ensemble in the form of a modern-day global pandemic. Notably, performances of the show are dedicated to ‘loved ones, the families of Ukrainians, and all those devastated by crime, plague or war.’
The show fittingly opens with ‘Seize the Day’ – an upbeat ballad sung by the show’s protagonist ‘John of York’ – performed with an engaging harmony of warmth and gravitas by actor Adam Stickler. The plotline (spoiler alert) sees this ‘stranger’ to Chesterfield overcome hostility, false accusation and physical injury to earn his place – not only in the hearts of the medieval townsfolk, but in the legendary twisted structure of the town’s most enduring character.
Joiner John’s journey is supported and thwarted in turns by a cast of characters played by a troupe of hugely talented performers to a standard worthy of West End spotlights: young Walter played by local lad Eddie Waller, had the audience not only ducking in their seats with his convincing David-and-Goliathesque sling-shot antics, but also held our eyes and ears firmly fixed on the stage – with a maturity and talent belying his years – throughout his key role in the unfolding plot, including moving duet numbers: ‘To Be a Journeyman’ and ‘To Be an Artisan’.
Hayley Mitchell (Walter’s older sister Katherine), overcame initial sound tech glitches with calm and professional aplomb during her First Act solo ‘The Water is Wide’ – her beautifully resonant voice conveyed that authentic mix of resilience and hope required to convey her character’s concern for her little brother – and her hopes for their future after their parent’s death from the plague – transporting the audience back through the centuries to the lived realities of medieval plague survivors.
Equally brilliant supporting roles were delivered by Ben Storey (Will/Hugo), Philip Meeks (Robert) and Clara Coslett – whose purity of voice in ‘Beth’s Lament’ and as part of the trio in ‘The Water is Wide/Trust in the Lord/Find the Truth’ rendered the performance as indescribably moving as that of Fantine in Les Miserables.
Such is the overall talent of the whole cast, underpinned by the vision of all those who comprise the Creative Team, that to hint at ‘unofficial Oscars’ in this review is simply impossible. Unlike the eponymous crooked icon of the show’s title – whose awe-inspiring silent presence is rendered mystically throughout the performance – the ‘timbers’ used in this arguably inspired and entertaining collage of dramatic cultural heritage is seasoned to perfection. Indeed, if the Crooked Spire herself could sing – we might hear ‘Seize the Day’ ringing out over the rooftops of Chesterfield, calling 21st Century townsfolk not to miss this moment! The show runs until Saturday 21st May, so book your tickets here!
Review by Chesterfield author/poet Leonie Martin, 20th May 2022
Leonie is a published author, poet and creative writing facilitator. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Sheffield and working on a textual reimagining of a medieval Dutch Saint which explores cultural attitudes to invisible illness and mystical revelation. Follow leonie.martin.writer on facebook
The Crooked Spire Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield, May 19-21,2022. A full-length mystery play set in the time when Chesterfield's crooked spire was built will premiere this week.
The Crooked Spire tells the story of a man who arrives in town from York to work on the spire and is accused of murdering its master carpenter. The man enlists the help of new friends in a fight to prove his innocence.
17/5/2022 0 Comments
Prize-winning artists from a Chesterfield school have scooped tickets to the first performance of a new musical.
source article from Derbyshire Times By Gay Bolton