Stripping it back to reveal its true beauty, the Hope Mill Theatre’s latest musical triumph Aspects Of Love has proved to showcase Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stunning score in a new light.
I spoke to Kimberly Blake and Jerome Pradon who play two people that get tangled up in love. Kimberly is playing an artist called Giulietta, “She is very bohemian and so free. She’s a really loving and caring person that has had a lot of trauma in her life because her husband passed away shortly after they married,” she said. “A lot of the characters have complex backgrounds and things going on, which is why it is so amazing that they meet each other and fall in love.”
Jerome, on the other hand, is playing George, the oldest character in the show. “He has been heartbroken for a long time because his wife died when they were very young, so he decides to live the life of pleasure,” he said. “He is all about enjoying life but not getting too involved in the fear of being hurt. It is interesting because inside he is heartbroken and really doesn’t want to get too involved and get in touch with his emotions, but on the surface, he really doesn’t show that and it is challenging to capture those layers.”
As one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lesser-known musicals, it is being given a new lease of life in the Hope Mill Theatre’s production. Ahead of going into rehearsals, Kimberly was just aware of a few songs. “The first thing I did when I got the job was to download the cast album. I just finished doing Chess at the Coliseum with Michael Ball who was the original Alex in the show. When I told him I got a part, he looked at me and said ‘Are you playing Giulietta’ – he could just tell,” she said. “He told me a lot about the show, gave me a few tips about the music itself. It is amazing because the music is so continuous and each scene runs from one to the next, there are no stops in between scenes. Everything happens and it all flows as one.”
Jerome added: “I have to say it is probably one of the best works from Andrew Lloyd Webber, it is sung through and the melody really captures the emotions. This music takes you over and grabs you by the hand and you’re completely drawn into the story. It is quite special.”
With the intimacy of the Hope Mill Theatre, they are orchestrating the music with just two pianos and percussion. “The way it is arranged really lends itself beautifully to the space,” Kimberly explained. “It is so exciting after doing Chess with a 60-piece orchestra, to perform such a stripped back musical is amazing. That is the beauty of what I do, you can go from a massive show to a really gorgeous intimate production.”
Adding to that intimacy, the theatre offers some of the audience to sit in the seats in the café so they literally feel as if they’re in the show. This creates a completely different experience for the audience and something that really captures the magic of theatre.
“They will be able to witness all the emotion so closely,” Jerome explained. “To tell you the truth, with this particular story I do believe it gets lost on a big stage with a lavish orchestra. It is a chamber piece that is very delicate and special, so it is such a great opportunity to explore the potential of this piece in a smaller place.”
Kimberly expressed her passion for working with the Hope Mill Theatre and the importance of these regional theatre producing such brilliant pieces of work. “A lot of the time with theatre it isn’t necessarily affordable to the average person, so places like the Hope Mill are really important in getting people to see theatre no matter what their background is,” she said. “I am from Derbyshire myself, and there is a similar theatre called the Derby Playhouse that I grew up going to. It is so important to have small venues like this pushing theatre with such high-quality productions.”
Quite literally telling the story of the different aspects of love, it’s a truly beautiful story. “There is no other musical like it,” Kimberly explained. “The experiences these characters are having are so real and happen to everyone. There are breakups, falling in love, falling out of love, unrequited love and same-sex relationships. It is a portrayal of how people change and grow with the relationships they have.”
Jerome added: “It is called Aspects of Love because it explores different ways we love each other. Whether that’s passionate, delicate, romantic or family love. It is about how love can be both destructive and make you stronger.”
Aspects Of Love is on at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester until the 9th of August, tickets and information can be found online here.
Featured image photography // Anthony Robling