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Former Curve Young Company (CYC) member Mary-Jean Caldwell returns to Curve’s stage as a professional performer in Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of Les Misérables. In this blog, Mary-Jean writes about what Curve meant to her growing up and how it feels to step back onto our stage.
Coming home to Curve – in which I first took to the main stage at age 12 during the Christmas production of The King and I – fills me with nostalgia, for all the amazing memories of wonderful times here; with excitement, for performing on that iconic stage and seeing so many old friends; and with pride, for returning as a professional performer and part of a truly sensational cast in one of the most famous musicals on earth – Les Misérables.
Curve was quite simply THE major formative influence in my development as a young performer, and I can still remember my thrill (and surprise!) when I reached the final round of auditions for the summer community production of Oliver! and landed the part of Nancy back in 2012. Over the following years I was lucky enough to get cast as the challenging role of Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd 2013), Miss Hannigan in Annie as well as Maureen in RENT (2014). Quite apart from experiencing the incomparable feeling of being part of a big production and all that that involves, I was trained by some of the best in the business, particularly Paul Kerryson, from whom I learned so much. The support and experience that came from these summers at Curve are the main reasons I chose to go onto further training in order to pursue a career in the musical theatre industry.
As well as the large community shows (and how wonderful it is to see how vibrant these still are with Fiddler on the Roof this summer – a truly remarkable feat by all involved) I benefitted hugely from being in the blossoming Curve Young Company, and we put on some great productions such as Howard Goodall’s The Dreaming in which I played the role of Henrietta. It is so great to see that CYC too goes from strength to strength, and I hope I will be able to take in some of their superb shows in years to come. We have so much young talent in our city, and it is a credit to Curve that so much time and effort is spent developing and nurturing young performers and setting them on their paths in the industry – or just giving us a way to express ourselves, build confidence and make friends, as I did.
I am so delighted that Curve was chosen to launch our nationwide tour of Les Misérables, and I can’t wait to be back on my favourite stage again but this time – as a professional! I’m sure there will be the usual first-night nerves – but I know those will be overcome by the excitement of being back and the memories of such happy times as I grew up here. It’s no exaggeration to say that Curve is my spiritual home, and I am sure it will remain so for however long my career lasts.
Mary-Jean Caldwell, age 21 – Factory Girl/1st Cover Fantine
(Image: Mary-Jean Caldwell as Nancy in Curve’s community production of Oliver!, 2012)