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Theatre director inspired to reach out to community

PUBLISHED: 17:08 25 November 2009 | UPDATED: 17:28 16 August 2010

A THEATRE director said he was inspired by hit TV show The Choir to invite his whole community to take part in the musical Jesus Christ

A THEATRE director said he was inspired by hit TV show The Choir to invite his whole community to take part in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar.

Following in the steps of the BBC's The Choir, screened in September, Stretch Theatre Company is opening its doors to the community to take part in a production of the classic musical.

The group's artistic director, Richard Gregg, said he was inspired by Gareth Malone, who gets whole communities involved in musical productions in the show.

Mr Gregg, who runs the theatre group out of the One With Grace (OWG) church in Hawley Road, Dartford, said: "When I watched The Choir I was so moved by the impact working on a project had on those communities taking part, I really hope that working on Jesus Christ Superstar (JCS) will do the same for our community.

"I really want to encourage people to come along even if they have no experience or don't feel that they are good enough. This is about working, learning and hopefully laughing together.

"We are looking to engage as many people from the local community as possible. Whether people want to sing, act, dance, play instruments or work behind the scenes there is opportunity for everyone to take part."

JCS, which celebrates its 40th birthday next year, was created by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

Mr Gregg added: "The music still sounds fresh and alive and the lyrics draw us into the lives of those in Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago for the last week of Jesus' life. "We are hoping to have a cast of over 100, supported by an orchestra, all performing in a giant big top.

"Creating something as a group has a strong bonding effect on a community and we really hope people will take up the challenge to make this a very special production."

The performance dates are April 1-3, 2010, nothing has been decided as the hope is to gather creative input from those who are taking part, said Mr Gregg.

Stretch Theatre has produced more than 30 shows in the last six years, including Sweeney Todd, Oliver, The Wizard of Oz and Children of Eden.

n For more information, or to get involved, call Mr Gregg on 01322 620640 or info@owgcentre.co.uk.

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