Group show support for struggling theatre

(Helen Stoddart and John-Paul McCrohon) CCADS is putting on AIDA at St Peter's Theatre from December 14-17.
(Helen Stoddart and John-Paul McCrohon) CCADS is putting on AIDA at St Peter's Theatre from December 14-17.
Lucie Jones and David Barrett in Legally Blonde. Picture by Robert Workman

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A tragic love story set against the back-drop of ancient Egypt, AIDA isn’t the best known of Tim Rice’s musical collaborations. The lyricist wrote Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, and Joseph and the Technicolour Dream Coat with composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber. But AIDA was written with Elton John providing the score, and the rights to perform it in the UK were only released this year.

It seems fitting then that CCADS’s production of the musical will be performed at one of Portsmouth’s lesser known venues, St Peter’s Theatre.

Currently struggling to stay open, with plans to stop holding productions at the space after the end of 2012, John-Paul McCrohon decided he wanted to help.

The director says: ‘We really wanted to be part of the campaign to save St Peter’s Theatre. Back in 1999 we performed Jesus Christ Superstar there, and that was the show that launched CCADS to the fore front.

‘It was quite a pivotal time for us, so now it’s our twentieth year we thought it was a good idea to go full circle, and come back.’

Passionate about raising awareness of the theatre’s problems, the amateur company decided to step away from the more commercial venues in the city.

John-Paul adds: ‘It’s part of our history and there are so many people working hard to keep the theatre open. There’s not a huge awareness of it, and I wanted to do something to help.

‘It’s a very flexible auditorium, and I think this production will make people see it in a new light.’

But the director has been dying to put on a production of the musical ever since its release in 2000.

‘I just fell in love with the music,’ he explains. ‘It’s just so ecliptic, with big sweeping romantic numbers. In previous years we’ve done more family based shows but I thought about myself as an audience member.

‘As much as I love them I think it’s nice to have an alternative, and see something different to the wonderful pantomimes. It’s a big musical and it can appeal to everyone, at the same time offering something different.’

AIDA follows the story of two star-crossed lovers, Aida and Radames, whose lives make it impossible for them to be with each other.

John-Paul adds: ‘It’s originally based on the opera (of the same name) but it has a contemporary take, and I think ours reflects that. The action spills from the stage into the auditorium.

‘It’s a rare opportunity to see a fantastic story, and it’s something that people have no misconceptions about.’

Tickets cost £8 to £10 from the Kings Theatre Box Office on (023) 9282 8282, and Southsea Box Office on (0845) 293 9450 during production week.