Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Laughter is the antidote

Interview with Paul Kerryson

January always starts with the lull after the busy Christmas season but Leicester’s Curve theatre is offering bucket loads of laughter to see you through the New Year blues.

Paul Kerryson, artistic director for the Leicester Theatre Trust, spoke to Jemma Crowston about what’s coming up this season and how comedy is the antidote to depression.

Last autumn many organisations in the arts and cultural sector received cuts to their funding but Kerryson has remained positive and said that he believes laughter is the key to lifting people’s spirits through these tough times.

He said, “There have been national cuts and local cuts too but you have to keep going and we’ve still had a fantastic programme of shows. I think because people are not spending money on going abroad they’re giving themselves treats like a trip to the theatre.”

The Irish born director said their audience numbers have been strong during 2010 and hoped the trend would continue this year.

Next month will see dozens of comedians gather for the cities 18th annual comedy festival.

Kerryson said, “Last year I admit we were struggling so we took the view to play on the safe side and only had a few shows for the comedy festival but this year we’ve got about ten shows and we’re looking to increase this next year.”

Some of the acts to feature at Curve for Leicester’s Comedy Festival include Jon Richardson, Sarah Millican, Milton Jones and Ceri Dupree. Football obsessed fans must see the hilarious tale of Beating Berlusconi on Thursday, February 10, which depicts one Liverpool football fans experience when he finds himself sat next to Silvio Berlusconi at the Attaturk Stadium.

Adding to the spectacular comedy line-up will be Kerryson’s take on Alan Ayckbourn’s play – Absured Person Singular.

He said, “This is a show about three nightmare Christmas’ which I’m sure we can all relate to. It’s a great piece of comedy to kick start the year.”

The end of 2010 was marked by the great success of the King and I for Curve with lead actress Janie Dee wowing the audience with her performance as Anna.

With the demand for tickets high, Kerryson has released the details of this year’s Christmas special – 42nd Street - and tickets are already selling fast.

He said, “We’ve been very lucky to get the rights to do 42nd Street and we only got them because of the success of previous performances such as King and I.

“It’s a very magical story and one of the most famous around the world so we wanted to give the audience time to buy their tickets especially those who couldn’t get tickets this Christmas to our sell out show.”

The spring programme at Curve includes a return from the touring theatre company, Kneehigh. Following the success of Red Shoes last November the company will return this month with The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

Audiences can expect romance, heart break and surprise with this exciting new adaptation of the cult French musical film.

As well as rehearing for Absurd Person Singular, Kerryson has been judging the auditions for the theatre’s community production of West Side Story.

Kerryson said, “We had about 150 young people come to the first auditions this week and I was amazed to see so much talent from people that had never been on stage before.”
The show stopping musical will hit the stage in July.

As well as adding to their community portfolio, Curve is pleased to see the continuation of their newly-formed Young Company.

Kerryson said, “Every week we give young people a chance to attach themselves to different elements at Curve not just the acting but marketing and other areas and this will hopefully all come together to form a show in July but it’s still evolving as more young people join.”

Last January Kerryson spoke about the constant comparison being made between the modern glass theatre and Leicester’s old Haymarket Theatre. But now, Curve proudly stands on its own merits.

Kerryson said, “Over the past five months I’ve seen a definite change in audience appreciation for Curve. We’ve had the foyer revamped to make it more comfortable and we’re looking to improve our food offer too. And I’ve not heard us being compared to Haymarket for such a long time which is great.”

He added, “We have the wow factor. Whenever we pull the side of the stage up so people can see outside or look into the backstage area I always see people looking on in amazement even the old Haymarket Theatre fans are impressed.”

Mr Kerryson’s role involves being one step ahead and he is already planning a bumper packed autumn programme which will be released in April.

For tickets and information on all the seasons upcoming shows phone 0116 242 3595 or visit