Hitting all the right notes

The cast of Jeanne D'Arc, to be performed in St Annes on July 20
The cast of Jeanne D'Arc, to be performed in St Annes on July 20
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A MUSICAL written and directed by a St Annes man is to be part of the Guild year celebrations in Preston.

Jeanne D’Arc, based on the life and death of Joan of Arc, has long been a passion for Jim Thomas, who premiered the work in 1994, and has staged it in London’s West End.

It will be presented, with a cast of 20 backed by a 15-piece orchestra, at Preston’s St John’s Minster on Thursday, September 27 and Saturday, September 29, with Lytham-based schoolteacher Laura Darkins in the title role.

And Jim, Laura and the company are expanding their repertoire during what will be a four-night season at the Minster, because on the Wednesday and Friday of the same week, they are presenting a concert featuring highlights of the work of legendary composers Rodgers and Hammerstein.

“It’s an honour to bring Jeanne D’Arc to such a prestigious venue, especially in Guild year and the company is very much looking forward to it,” said Jim.

“The main week of Guild celebrations passed at the weekend but there are events going on all year around the city and it is great to be part of it.

“We are also very pleased with the Rodgers and Hammerstein show which we premiered in Blackpool last year and we thought it would be good to alternate the shows over the four nights. It features all their best-known works and shows the versatility of the company.”

Jeanne D’Arc played to considerable acclaim on its debut, when Joanna Riding was in the title role and subsequently, a concert adaptation went to St Giles Cathedral for two performances as part of Edinburgh Festival.

More recently, there have been concert versions, with several of the performances raising money for charity and in August last year, Jeanne D’Arc was showcased to a select invited audience in the West End, followed by a Gala Concert performed to a sellout crowd at the Dominion Theatre Studio.

This summer, excerpts from the show, with Laura in the title role, were part of the Open2All concert series in St Annes during the Open Golf.

Details of the Preston concerts are available from Jim on (01253) 729630 or on line at www.jeanne-darc.co.uk.