Audrey Brisson, Star of the West End Hit Amelie, Comes to Buxton
Finally, the process of casting The Land of Might-Have-Been is complete and what a cast it is! Michael Williams, BIF’s CEO, discusses the line-up for his new musical.
We are delighted that Audrey Brisson, star of the West End production of Amelie the Musical, will be bringing the role of Vera Brittain to life. Audrey comes from an opera background, her parents are both opera singers, and she has a unique voice that straddles musical theatre and classic opera technique. In her audition she displayed a quirky fierceness that was very appealing and she glowed with oodles of charisma and talent.
A rather unexpected surprise that came out of the casting process was how we landed upon three young men who were all so different. George Arvidson, who plays Vera’s brother, matched Audrey’s talent for singing and has the ebullience and the joie de vivre we were looking for in the character of Edward.
When Kit Esuroso sang the title song The Land of Might-Have-Been we knew that he was our Bobby, sensitive and passionate in all the right quantities.
The struggle was finding the romantic lead and Alexander Knox was the surprise candidate for Roland. He has enormous confidence, a voice to match and was equal to anything Audrey threw at him.
Casting Vera’s Edwardian parents, Arthur and Edith Brittain, was more challenging than we first thought. In Bernadine Pritchet we found an actor with a sense of humour, a lovely voice and an infections personality that is sure to soften the curmudgeon centre of her husband’s heart. Stuart Pendred had just the right combination of gruff affection and authority, bringing sympathetic gravitas to the role of Arthur.
It was wonderful to see how director Kimberely Sykes and conductor Iwan Davies worked with each of the final candidates, exploring their vocal ranges, their acting abilities and how adept they were at taking direction. The business of casting people who can transform into someone else is an alchemist’s art – a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and then, hopefully, on opening night golden performances for all to see.
Audrey Brisson has appeared in numerous musical theatre productions including the title role in Amélie the Musical for which she was nominated Best Actress in a Musical for Olivier Awards 2020 and Best Performer in a Musical for UK Theatre Awards 2019. Other roles include ‘Utterson – one woman show’ in Jekyll and Hyde and Cinderella in Into the Woods, The Lorax in Dr Suess’s The Lorax and Bella in Emma Rice’s The Flying Colours of Vitebsk.
Alexander Knox plays Vera’s doomed fiancée Roland Leighton. Alexander has appeared in A Merchant of Venice (Playground Theatre), Into Battle, (Greenwich Theatre) The Tempest, Henry V, (Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre York) The Silver Sword and the film, Music, War and Love.
George Arvidson plays Edward Brittain, Vera’s brother, who courts death rather than face being court marshalled for his sexuality. Arvidson’s numerous West End appearances include Les Misérables, Evita and Carousel.
Kit Esuroso will play Bobby, Vera’s friend and Edward’s secret lover. Kit recently won Best Actor for his role in AKONI for the Australian Screen and Industry Network Awards. Other highlights include Showboat (Crucible Theatre, West End), TINA (Original West End Cast) and West Side Story (Royal Exchange Theatre).
The Land of Might-Have-Been, with book and lyrics by Michael Williams, follows on from the success of another Buxton-inspired triumph, Williams’ award-winning opera, Georgiana. It is the first co-production between Buxton International Festival and Norwich Theatre. It will be directed by Kimberley Sykes, conducted by Iwan Davies, set and costumes designed by Nicky Shaw, lighting by Jake Wiltshire, sound by Declan Matwij and choreography by Nathan M Wright. Iain Farrington has arranged Ivor Novello’s songs, including My Dearest Dear, Waltz of My Heart, My Life Belongs To you and Why Is There Ever Goodbye, for the Northern Chamber Orchestra.
Other roles are played by Stuart Pendred, Bernadine Pritchett, Elin Davies, Julie Teal, Boaz Chad, Richard Woodall, Helen Maree, Julia Mariko, Tobias Camposs Santinaque and Charlie St John.
Public Booking for The Land of Might-Have-Been is now open. Go to buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/the-land-of-might-have-been