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A Chesterfield-based medieval murder mystery musical is being staged in the town next month. The musical has been created by Ashgate Heritage Arts, a not-for-profit theatre production company founded by Martin Coslett and Peter Gray, musicians and lyricists who live in Chesterfield, and Mary Hennessy, an award-winning scriptwriter from Buxton.
A version of the show was well received when it was previewed at Buxton's Fringe in 2020 and some of the songs from the show also delighted an audience at St Mary and All Saints Church in October, 2021.
Now, with funding from Arts Council England and Derbyshire County Council, Ashgate Heritage Arts is able to stage the full production.
Martin Coslett, producer and co-writer, said: "We're thrilled to finally be able to bring our "home-grown' musical to the stage in Chesterfield - a captivating story which celebrates Chesterfield history and its most iconic landmark.
"It's also about a community recovering from a pandemic - the plague - the importance of friendship and standing up for truth and justice, which everyone can relate to. And, of course, there are lots of catchy songs along the way."
The production will star Gerard Fletcher as Sir Henry. His TV credits include roles in the BBC's Happy Valley: Netflix's The Crown; the BBC's Get Even, and the upcoming BBC drama, Sherwood. Other cast members include John Conway, as Sir Richard, and Stephanie Putson, as Martha, John's landlady. Hayley Mitchell will play Katherine.
The show will also showcase upcoming talent including Adam Stickler, who plays the lead role of John and Clara Coslett the master carpenter's wife.
Based on the novel, The Crooked Spire, by Chris Nickson, the musical is set in the mid-14th century and follows a carpenter, who has travelled from York to find work on the new spire which is being constructed on top of the town's St Mary and All Saints Church.
Before long, the master carpenter at the church is murdered and John becomes the chief suspect. The only way he can clear his name is to find out who the real killer is. As he gets closer to the truth further murders are committed and John's life is in great danger.
ELEVEN-year-old Eddie Waller from Brampton, has been cast as Walter, John's young friend. Eddie has played a variety of roles and performed in concerts as part of Inspirations Theatre Company since 2017. Despite the lead-up to the show coinciding with Eddie's Year 6 SATS exams, he can't wait to start rehearsing.
He said: "Walter is a great character - he's very brave and a bit cheeky, but he looks up to John, the new carpenter in town, and wants to win his approval. It's a great role to play.
"I feel very lucky and excited to have got the part in the show. I can learn so much from all the professional actors and it's going to be amazing performing on the stage at The Pomegranate Theatre."
Jake Smith is the musical's director. He said: "After reading script, I jumped at the chance to be involved as I love staging amazing stories which have a strong sense of place and price in local heritage. I'm also passionate about working with community theatre and creating excellent productions outside London.
"Together with set designer Lu Herbert, I will be creating a visually stunning show, which will transport audiences back to medieval Chesterfield," he added. Musical director, Harry Style, is a composer-arranger in the and TV, and singer with the Ashatones.
Novelist Chris Nickson said: "I'm flattered that Ashgate Heritage Arts are bringing my story to life.
"There are a number of theories about how the spire became crooked and my story explores one of them. Above all, it's a murder mystery, but the importance of friendship - and a little romance! - underpins it all."
To book tickets visit chesterfieldtheatres.co.uk
Article Pictures: Tom Humphries