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The latest episode of Curve in Conversation, the podcast from Leicester’s Curve theatre, is now available and features interviews with star of stage and screen Tom Chambers, Curve Associate and Curve Young Dance Company Leader Mel Knott, and Mary-Jean Caldwell, a former member of Curve’s Young Company who has gone on to become a professional performer.
Hosted by former BBC Radio Leicester presenter Martin Ballard, Curve in Conversation is released on the final Thursday of every month.
As applications are now open for young people aged 5 – 19 to join Curve’s Youth and Community Companies (CYCC), in July’s episode Martin speaks to Mel and Mary-Jean about their experiences at Curve and the value of youth theatre.
Having first appeared on Curve’s stage at the age of 12 in The King and I, Mary-Jean joined CYCC at 14 and over the years performed in a number of CYCC and Community productions including The Dreaming, Oliver, Rent and Annie.
“It was so fun – you mix with all different ages and all different walks of life”, Mary-Jean comments. “I didn’t live far from Curve at the time so I’d just pop down and spend most of my week there.”
Mary-Jean went on to train at the Guildford School of Acting (GSA) and made her major professional debut at Curve in 2018 when she returned as part of the touring production of Les Miserables.
In 2013, Mary-Jean received praise for her performance as Mrs Lovett in Curve’s summer community production of Sweeney Todd, an experience which proved to be crucial in her journey to becoming a professional performer. “I think that my biggest training was Curve”, says Mary-Jean, “I went on to do drama school but I got the most experience by being thrown in at the deep end and it was the best training I could have ever asked for”.
Next year marks the 10th anniversary of Curve’s Young Dance Company, which continues to be led by Curve Associate Mel Knott, who also works as a lecturer in Community Dance Practice at De Montfort University.
Speaking about the decline in opportunities for young people to engage with the arts at school, Mel says, “places like Curve and all the other arts organisations that run youth companies are going to be so much more important for our young people going forward”.
Mel also encourages young people to apply to join CYCC, saying, “you don’t necessarily have to go on to want to be a performer, come and join a youth company to get that sense of pleasure of being with other young people, feeling proud of the work you can do, developing your confidence, your critical thinking skills, being creative”.
She adds, “don’t worry if you haven’t done loads of technique classes before, if you want to be creative and empowered and your voice to be heard – youth theatre is the right place for you”.
Applications for the upcoming CYCC year are now open until Sunday 8 August. With sessions available for those interested in acting, dance, musical theatre, technical theatre and more. A registered charity (no. 230708), Curve also offers a number of free places for CYCC through its bursary scheme. To find out more and apply now, visit – www.curveonline.co.uk/get-involved/join-cyc/
From Tuesday 31 August to Saturday 4 September, Tom Chambers (Top Hat, Casualty, Strictly Come Dancing) will return to Curve to resume the UK tour of Dial M For Murder.
In this new production of Frederick Knott’s stage and screenplay – made world-famous by Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic 1954 film – Tom stars as the charismatic and manipulative Tom Wendice, a jaded ex-tennis pro who has given it all up for his wife Margot, played by The X Factor Songstress Diana Vickers.
“I can’t wait to be with other humans”, explains Tom as looks forward to being back on stage after a year of lockdowns and virtual work. “After a while, you slowly drop off because you’re not getting the flavour – it’s like you’re able to look at a meal but not taste it and it’s the same for being on Zoom. The moment you’re actually in a room, there’s an energy that you feed off other people”.
Tom last appeared at Curve in 2018 in the tour of musical Crazy For You. Talking about the suspense and drama of Dial M For Murder, Tom says, “it’s a classic blueprint. I think that’s a testament to something that’s been well-written. It’s timeless and does feel like it was written yesterday.”
Tickets for Dial M For Murder are on sale now and can be booked online, over the phone by calling 0116 242 3595 or in person at Curve’s Box Office (10am – 6pm, Monday to Saturday).