Friday 21 May 2021

Curve Season Launch

Curve, Leicester

20th May 2021


‘Love endures’


It had been over 14 months since we last set foot in Leicester’s leading producing theatre to see the launch of the new tour of Phantom of the Opera. Chief Executive, Chris Stafford, described the heartbreak and uncertainty of the fateful day when audiences arriving to watch the show last March had to be turned away at the doors due to new government Covid-19 guidance. He went on to explain how he and Artistic Director, Nikolai Foster, sat that night in an empty auditorium, the iconic Phantom chandelier looming overhead, and vowed to do everything they could to ensure the survival of Curve. More than a year on, the monumental support extended to Curve by the local and wider theatre loving community shines through as they successfully reopen their doors to audiences in a season that celebrates togetherness, art and home.

Prior to our arrival we were sent a comprehensive set of instructions detailing Curve’s safety procedures. Their strategy has been intricately thought-out and was implemented with immaculate diligence; the safety of everyone involved was, rightly, at the forefront of proceedings. A brief list of safety procedures includes: all audience members and staff wear face coverings; hand sanitizer is located throughout the building; zoned entrances and staggered entry times; contactless ticket scanners; socially distanced seating and increased ventilation in the auditorium (we’re advised to bring a jacket as it can get a little chilly); in-seat hospitality services; track and trace; and temperature checks via infrared cameras. The auditorium that usually seats 1,600 has been reduced to a maximum capacity of 533. Reducing capacity by this scale may seem extreme and detrimental to the atmosphere of a night at the theatre, yet Curve’s state of the art design means the new configuration seems completely natural, and the in-the-round set up ensures we still feel that sense of unity as an audience. The new triple revolve (donated by Cameron Macintosh) that was used so effectively in the @Home streaming performances of Sunset Boulevard and The Color Purple allows fantastic 360° views and is a great addition to the theatre’s already impressive infrastructure.

So, now that theatre is well and truly BACK it’s onwards and upwards and Curve has an exciting programme of shows coming up over the next few months. The team continue to support local artists by launching the new season with a two day showcase of new work on 21st & 22nd May. We were treated to some taster performances from dance group Wayward Thread and some brilliantly witty musical comedy from Sheep Soup. I can’t emphasise how exciting it is to see fresh work again, and amidst all the chaos of the last year Curve have even managed to schedule the world premiere of Katie Lam and Alex Parker’s Am Dram: A Musical Comedy. The team has assembled a stellar cast including Janie Dee, Wendy Furguson and Curve regular, Sharan Phull, to tell the self-professed ‘love letter’ to community theatre. If Laura Pitt-Pulford’s performance of ‘Out In The Light’ is anything to go by, Am Dram promises to be a warm, heartfelt show with a large dollop of British whimsy. Audiences can book tickets now for performances from 27th – 29th May.

Equally exciting offerings come from old favourites including Aakash Odedra who cements his long-standing working relationship with Curve by returning to celebrate his dance company’s 10th Anniversary with a revival of Rising, which plays 24th & 25th May. Odedra spoke beautifully about the themes of community and home in his work, a sentiment which extends to much of Curve’s season this year. In August audiences can look forward to RENT: in concert, an event that promises to be deeply moving as Jonathan Larson’s seminal musical reflects on the suffering and resilience of the human spirit, a theme that is particularly relatable of late. Elsewhere, the team have programmed their own ‘love-letter’ to theatre with a run of Andrew Lloyd Webber concerts (7th – 19th June) and that most stagey of musicals, A Chorus Line, playing over Christmas. Melanie La Barrie treated us to a sneak peak of what’s to come with her barn-storming rendition of ‘What I Did For Love’, which is bound to ensure a sell-out festive season.

While Curve have a well established reputation as a producing house, the theatre has recently garnered attention as host to a fantastic and varied array of touring shows. Rescheduled runs of Hairspray (4th – 9th October), Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (20th – 26th September), and Six (28th September – 3rd October) are joined touring productions of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (13th – 18th September), the sublime Magic Goes Wrong (16th – 24th July), the world premiere of Peter James’ thriller Looking Good Dead (1st – 3rd July), and Matthew Bourne’s latest venture The Midnight Bell (11th – 16th October). Tempting announcements for 2022 include the new tours of Mamma Mia, Waitress and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, the launch of a new touring production of The Cher Show from creatives Arlene Phillips and Oti Mabuse, and the launch of Curve’s new touring production of The Wizard of Oz.

Any regular patron of Curve will know how committed the team are to championing young people and new talent: from their own stellar Curve Young Company to the break dancers frequently seen in and around the foyer. I’m so pleased to see that this ethos continues in an upcoming piece we are particularly excited about; the rescheduled production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Originally planned for Autumn 2020, the play is to be directed by 2019 RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Awardee, Anthony Almeida, who last year spoke so eloquently about his plans for a fresh, reimagined take on the classic. This advocating of new talent is why I adore my local theatre and I can’t wait to see Almeida’s vision manifest on stage. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof plays at Curve from 3rd - 18th September.

Curve have maintained their commitment to nurturing new talent and educating young people over the last year, as seen in a recently published retrospective report. Despite being in the midst of a global pandemic over the last year Curve has reached a variety of audiences on an international level, interacting with 650,000 people across 120 countries. Their embracing of digital platforms has enabled communities, local and international, to benefit from the arts even in the darkest of times. ‘In Conversation’ interviews, online classes, highly acclaimed streamed productions, and the continuation of the Young Company via online workshops demonstrated the resilience of Curve and the arts in general as well as a determination to make theatre more accessible for everyone. Stafford mentioned that, while eager to get back to live performances, the theatre is keen to maintain its digital presence and work within the community.

Over the course of the evening it was evident that as the world has evolved due to the pandemic, so too has theatre and the arts. While there have been many devastating losses in the industry, the emphasis is now firmly on the positive, as theatre makers have adapted and gained new skills that will make theatre even more exciting and accessible as we move forward into a new era.

I cannot wait to attend a full show, but this taster has more that whetted my appetite for theatre-going and I am so proud to call Curve my local!


For full details of all scheduled shows please visit 

Credit: Ellie Kurttz