When Lewes Operatic Society staged the world premiere of Remember! Remember! in 2008, members hoped that the town’s Bonfire Night traditions would trigger interest in the new musical about the Gunpowder Plot.
However, even the most optimistic were surprised to see the show completely sold out before opening night and there were queues for almost non-existent returns at every show.
Penned by the Brighton trio of Rob Starr, Rob Piatt and Jasper Kent, the musical – which has been described as Les Mis in style – tells the story of the Gunpowder Plot from the conspirators’ perspective. Since the first staging, the team has worked to tighten up the show, a move that director Andy Freeman feels makes it even more attractive to a West End producer in the future. “This is a show that really presses all the buttons,” he said. “It’s a story that just about everybody knows – even if only for the fact that Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament. It has incredible real life characters, some cracking songs and is so emotionally dramatic.
“It has everything that people flock to the professional theatre in London to see and I’m sure it would be an enormous hit, especially with the tourists. Even now, having worked on the first production and returned to it five years on, there’s moments that still leave me completely goose-bumped!”
Jasper Kent lifts the baton as musical director and a number of the original cast have returned to revive their roles. Tim Crouch, previously a contestant on Channel 4’s Operatunity, reprises the part of Robin Catesby, the leader of the plot, and he is joined by Adrian Samuel as the character all Lewes looks to blow up on The Fifth – Guy Fawkes.
Lewes regulars Lucy Newth and Neil Horstcraft portray the recusant Anne Vaux and priesthole builder Nicholas Owen, who was to die under torture having never revealed the location of any of his work.
Mike MacKenzie, who sang the part of Lord Robert Cecil on a studio-produced recording of the show, brings the part to the stage for the first time and Ringmer teenager Katy Streeter excels as the government-backed spy, Jane Finwood, one of only two fictional parts in the show.
Remember! Remember! opens at Lewes Town Hall on Tuesday, October 1, and runs nightly at 7.30pm until Saturday, October 5. Tickets are available on-line through www.lewesoperatic.co.uk or in person from 10am-2pm, Monday to Friday, in the Town Hall foyer.