Rehearsals have started for a stage show that will help Swansea residents and visitors celebrate 50 years of city status.
Performers have been gathering at the city’s Grand Theatre to begin run-throughs for Calon Lân The Musical.
Directed by Olivier Awards nominee Maxine Evans, it is set to run at the Grand for nine days from June 28, with words and music by Swansea’s Mal Pope.
It tells the epic true story of Evan Roberts, a young Swansea miner who led a worldwide Christian revival in the early years of the last century.
It stars Swansea West End performer Claire Hammacott and city broadcaster and performer Kev Johns.
The role of Evan Roberts will be played by James Ifan.
Swansea 50 organisers at Swansea Council are delighted the musical is taking shape.
Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “The whole community can celebrate our first half century as a city – and a trip to the Grand to see Calon Lân is an excellent opportunity.
“This big anniversary is important to the city and this production, written by Swansea-born Mal Pope and featuring Swansea performers, will be an exceptional exemplar of the city’s rich culture.”
Mal Pope said: “It was great to get everybody together at the Grand for our rehearsals.
“We have a talented cast – including some of the finest Welsh West End performers – and an exceptional director; we’re all eager to put on a show of which Swansea can be proud in this big year.”
Drawing on a rich Welsh heritage of hymns and arias, this all-new production is set against the hardship and struggles of industrial Wales.
It tells the epic and remarkable true story of 26-year-old Roberts. In 1904 he started having nightly visitations from God – and his goal became to save 100,000 souls.
However, he had to fight mine owners, union leaders and pillars of the Church and society, armed only with his faith, his Bible and a group of teenage girls known as The Singers of Dawn.
Director Maxine Evans said: “This is a tale of passion and love, family and jealousy, sacrifice and pride. People thought Roberts was crazy, his family all but disowned him and scandal dogged him, but his Revival was felt across the world.
“It’s a pleasure to be working with such a wonderful score and talented cast is this beautiful theatre.”
Claire Hammacott, who has played lead roles in West End productions of Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, said: “I’m thrilled that rehearsals have started.
“We had a great time in the initial meetings and I’m especially excited to be exploring the drama of the piece.”
Kevin Johns, radio presenter, actor, after dinner speaker, compere and pantomime dame, said: “I’m excited about being part of a show that tells the story of an event that affected the world but started here in Swansea. I’m delighted to have started work with an amazing cast and director.”
The show’s first single – Warm Wind – has already been released, with a video featuring The Morriston Orpheus, the DVLA Choir and the Swansea-based Sir Harry Secombe Youth Theatre Group as well as musical contributions from around the world.
Sponsorship and other assistance has come from a range of supporters including the University of Wales Trinity St David, Peter Lynn and Partners, Gordon Down Accountants, Gower Brewery and Low Cost Vans.
Calon Lân The Musical, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Swansea becoming a city, is presented by Grand Slam Theatre in association with the Grand Theatre. Jun 28 – Jul 6, 7.30pm, matinees Thu 2pm, Sat 2.30pm.
Cast Cameron Blakely (WT Stead), James Ifan (Evan Roberts), Claire Hammacott (Hannah Roberts), Kevin John (Henry Roberts), Laura Meaton (Annie Roberts), Victoria Pugh (Rachel Evans), Robert Heard (Geraint Evans), Delme Thomas (Rev Peter Price), Jordan Bernarde (Will Hay), Anni Dafydd (Mared Davies).