Forget the West End and Broadway – the only place to be seen between 13th and 15th June is Yeadon Town Hall where the World Premiere of The Carole King Songbook is being staged.
The Carole King Songbook is described as the story of one girl and her piano, but it is more than that; it is an evening of some of the most iconic music ever written. Not only did she compose some of the best-loved entries in The Great American Songbook but she also inspired others, such as her first boyfriend, Neil Sedaka, to pen hits including Oh Carol! and Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen. This show is a celebration of her work, including songs from the 1971 album Tapestry which anyone of a certain age is almost sure to have had in their collection at one time or another.
Jamie Hudson is a huge Carole King fan as well as the producer and writer of the show which is a feel-good, concert style evening of song and performance, and features a live band and visual effects. Louise Dennison is the director and choreographer, and musical director is Marie Collins. When I called to have a chat with the marketing manager, Sophie Joelle, who very kindly arranged for me to meet the cast, rehearsals were in full swing, with Ms Collins putting Eve Riana Kitchingman through her paces as the eponymous heroine. I must say that the vocal resemblance was uncanny and – whilst I didn’t have the opportunity on this occasion to hear her sing – Kara Mottram is sharing the role with Eve. The other two cast members are Thomas Lillywhite and Danny Dixon.
As the show is an interpretation rather than an imitation, the parts are interchangeable, so Eve and Kara perform whichever song most suits their voice. This also applies to the recordings made by The Drifters, a five-man group whose hits will be sung by the ensemble of two men and two women. Marie Collins said that it meant adjusting the harmonies, but I was assured that the results would not disappoint. The four artists are all local and were chosen to highlight the work being produced in this area, as well as showcasing their individual talent.
Eve Riana Kitchingman has long-established links with Yeadon Town Hall, having performed here on numerous occasions and garnering a Leeds Guild Award in 2018 along the way. It was in that year that she was also given a thirteen-month contract by Universal Studios in Japan, from where she has just returned.
As already mentioned, the other female cast member is Kara Mottram, who has worked all over Europe, singing and dancing. Kara appeared in pantomime at Yeadon Town Hall at the grand old age of three, so didn’t need a satnav to find her way to the place. Later this year, she is to launch her new venture, KM Academy of Dance.
It is no good having a great cast in a music show if there are no musicians and here we have a band made up of four professionals in the shape of Darren Watson, Alex Hogg, Hugh Vincent and Michael Turnbull.
After the three nights at Yeadon Town Hall, the show goes on a national tour which runs from the end of July to late September, so if you can’t make it to Yeadon, or you liked it so much that you want second helpings, below are the other dates. If you are still yearning for more it is hoped to extend the tour next year.
UK tour dates
Howden Park Centre 28 June
Lanark Memorial Hall 29 June
Pitlochry Festival Theatre 30 June
Scarborough Spa 14 July
Alban Arena 15 July
Towngate Theatre 19 July
The Palace Theatre Paignton 20 July
The Brindley 24 July
Crewe Lyceum Theatre 25 July
Trinity Theatre 27 July
Princess Theatre Hunstanton 28 July
The Spa Pavilion 4 August
Wycombe Swan 30 August
Winding Wheel Theatre 20 September
Grimsby Auditorium 27 September
Just a mention for Yeadon Town Hall: There is a campaign under way to raise money to refurbish the much-loved building via their Just Giving page, as well as through special events and the money raised from the shows staged there. The work on The Town Hall Bar has been completed, but a substantial sum is still required to finish the project, which is known as Restoration 2020.
Should you wish to help please see here.
The other ways to help can be found here.
In April this year, Yeadon CIC officially took over the management of the building and this is their first production. As a non-profit making company, all proceeds from this and future shows will go into the restoration. Next year, a new CIC will take over producing the shows and will be called Fresh Aire Productions which should go some way to avoiding the confusion between Yeadon Town Hall the building and Yeadon Town Hall Productions.
There are another couple of shows taking place before the aforementioned name change and they are A Night at the Musicals 24th-27th July and the Christmas Spectacular from 19th- 23rd December. A further extravaganza, Mr Montgomery’s Circus Spectacular, is being co-produced with local arts and community group Codswallop CIC.
Get your glad rags out and I will see you on 13th for the social event of the year.
Feature photograph is Eve Kitchingman. Photographs provided by Yeadon Town Hall, unless otherwise captioned.
Stan writes Let’s Do Lunch for Leeds Living. He also reviews special events for food and drink, which sometimes takes him beyond Leeds. He has also developed an interest in writing on culture, most frequently dramatic and musical theatre.