Children’s musical will celebrate life and times of king
KING Richard III is to visit Barnard Castle for a children’s musical that’s been two-and-a-half years in the making.
The show, Lord of the North, will have its public premiere at St Mary’s Parish Church on Wednesday, July 6, at 2pm, performed under the 15th century sculpted head of Richard himself.
With “King Richard” from Time Will Tell Theatre in attendance, the 41 children from year five of Green Lane Primary School will perform seven songs composed by St Mary’s musical director Annette Butters and with lyrics by Kim Harding.
Ms Harding drew on 40 years as a Ricardian and a background in music, writing and primary education, she is also chairwoman of the Barnard Castle-based Northern Dales Richard III Group. Previously an Armed Forces musician, Ms Butters studied at the London College of Music, before pursuing teaching, composing, concert management and music administration.
Lord of the North, commissioned by Green Lane’s headteacher, Rob Goffee, explores Richard’s life from his earliest childhood to his final battle, as well as the legacy he left as a man and as a king.
Two soloists, John Trevett and Abi Littlefair, will perform songs as King Richard and Queen Anne Neville, and all songs will be accompanied by a quartet of backing singers from St Mary’s Community Choir and a select band of instrumentalists drawn from the town, St Mary’s Church and St Mary’s Community Orchestra.
The musical’s inaugural performance is at Green Lane School on Wednesday, June 22, for the parents and families of year five and the entire school.
Children’s author Alex Marchant will be guest of honour, and after which the children will be each gifted a copy of his Ricardian children’s novel, The Order of the White Boar, and the boar badge that forms part of their costume.
Ms Harding said: “We have an incredible medieval heritage in Barnard Castle that links directly to Richard – there is more physical evidence of his presence here than anywhere in England – so it is great to be able to open a window on his world to the children who live here today.
“They have been fascinated by his story and have especially loved engaging with our props – flags, banners, crowns and halberds - which especially come into their own when the children are re-enacting the battle at Bosworth Field.
“Annette has written a fantastic combination of atmospheric, rousing and moving tunes with a strong medieval sound as well as making us feel we are right there on the battlefield alongside the King.
“Maybe some of the children will go on to be Ricardians for the next 40-odd years just as I did at their age.” The main performance at 2pm on Wednesday, July 6, in St Mary’s Parish Church is open to the public and is free, with donations welcome. Refreshments will be served.