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Latest On Song column – January 31

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Latest On Song column – January 31

Posted By RobertLloyd58

EVERYONE loves a bit of Madness, so there’s a treat coming up during February half-term in Carmarthen.

Carmarthen Youth Opera will be staging Our House – The Madness Musical at The Lyric theatre from February 14-17.

The musical is also called A London Love Story and it does, of course, feature tunes from Madness, the English ska and pop band from Camden Town, north London. Madness were one the most prominent bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The musical features a collection of Madness hits, including House of Fun, Baggy Trousers, Driving in my Car, It Must Be Love and, of course, Our House.

Based in 1980s Camden Town, Our House tells the story of London lad Joe Casey, who, on the night of his 16th birthday, takes Sarah, the girl of his dreams, out on their first date.

In an effort to impress her, he breaks into a building site overlooking his home on Casey Street, which is owned by Mr Pressman, a high-end property developer.

The police turn up, at which point Joe’s life splits into two: the Good Joe, who stays to help, and Bad Joe, who flees.

Tickets are £18 and £15 and available from the Theatrau Sir Gar website at www.theatrausirgar.co.uk

Our House is based on the book by playwright Tim Firth.

Premiering at The Cambridge Theatre in 2002, Our House was the winner of the 2003 Olivier award for Best New Musical and has since gone on to tour both nationally and internationally to great acclaim.

Through the music of Madness, the musical explores the themes of love, family values, growing up, responsibility and dealing with losing the people that shape us.

Carmarthen and District Youth Opera has a proud history. Its place in the performing arts within Wales owes a great deal to the vision, drive, and dedication of countless volunteers over five decades.

It all began in 1979 at Carmarthen’s Further Education Centre youth club, when a small group of dedicated and enthusiastic adults formed an organisation that would provide an opportunity for young people to develop and display their artistic talents.

Driven by the late Elizabeth Evans MBE and her husband David, their commitment and perseverance in the early years sowed the seeds for the success that followed.

Today, Carmarthen and District Youth Opera is one of the most successful cultural societies in Wales, with a reputation for high quality musical entertainment.

The first annual musical production, Snow White in 1979, won the Lord Snowdon Award, presented by the All Wales National Federation of Youth Clubs Entertainment.

The following year, and with an appetite for “more”, Oliver was performed by a renamed Carmarthen Further Education Centre Youth Department Amateur Music and Drama Society.

By 1983, the opera team had become known as Carmarthen FE Centre Youth Opera.

In 1986, the company performed Jesus Christ Superstar at the prestigious Waterford International Festival of Music and Drama, an event that raised the profile of the company across the UK.

By 1987, the society became known as Carmarthen Youth Opera.

Throughout this period, the popularity and standing of the society was growing, as was its reputation for exceptionally high-quality musical productions.

Local venues were proving difficult to accommodate a growing audience support.

In 1987, an empty and almost derelict Carmarthen Lyric Cinema, seemed to be a very unlikely solution to the problem.

However, the Youth Opera’s Director and founder, the late Elizabeth Evans MBE, saw the huge potential the building offered and, in her unique style, managed to convince the owner to let the Youth Opera clean the building and put on a live show.

A huge Carmarthen Youth Opera adult volunteer clean-up effort followed, which enabled the dream to come true . . . and the society had a new “home”.

Further major initiatives secured the purchase and extensive refurbishment of the building, with substantial funding support from Carmarthen Town Council, Carmarthen District Council, Dyfed County Council and the Welsh Office.

In 1989, the company become known as Carmarthen and District Youth Opera and another new era started. The society gained charitable status and became a company limited by guarantee.

The theatre is now owned and run by Carmarthenshire County Council (Theatrau Sir Gar) as a venue for current and future generations.

The society’s many accolades include a performance for the late Her Majesty The Queen, and the Emir of Qatar at the LNG Terminal, Milford Haven official opening in 2009.

In 2010, the then Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited The Lyric. The society was granted HRH The Duchess of Cornwall’s Royal Patronage.

The society’s Patron also visited the Youth Opera on the society’s 40th Anniversary in July 2019.

You can find out more about Carmarthen and District Youth Opera on their website at http://www.youthopera.co.uk

In other news, the popular Bronwen Lewis is bringing her ‘More from The Living Room’ tour to Ffwrnes Theatre in Llanelli on February 17.

Following her hugely successful 2022 tour, Bronwen will be back, recreating the magic of her virtual gigs live on stage.

Bronwen will be performing a new selection of her favourite songs intertwined with endearing storytelling.

The multi-instrumentalist and Tik-Tok sensation showcases a varied repertoire including a new selection of her original songs.

The Welsh singer-songwriter has a wonderfully warm style that sits between Country, Pop, Folk and Blues. She is proudly bilingual and received international acclaim during her time on BBC’s The Voice when she brought Tom Jones to tears. Bronwen also starred in and sang the theme song ‘Bread and Roses’ in the BAFTA Award Winning film ‘Pride’.

In Ammanford, on February 9, The Miners’ Theatre will welcome the folk group called Pedair.

Pedair draws on the talents of four of Wales’ most prominent folk artists –  Gwenan Gibbard, Gwyneth Glyn, Meinir Gwilym and Siân James.

As groundbreaking international artists, they thrive on collaboration and the thrill of live performance. With harps, guitars, piano and percussion, their music has captured the hearts of audiences with their sweeping vocal harmonies, fresh interpretations of the Welsh folk tradition, and intimacy of songwriting.

Their first recordings, having emerged during lockdown, gained instant popularity.

Having won the Welsh Album of the Year Award 2023 with their much-anticipated debut album, Pedair’s creative synergy is only beginning to reach its full potential.

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Written by RobertLloyd58

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