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Winning designs for ROH show

Published 9 September 2008

Varjak Paw, the Opera Group’s musical stage adaptation of SF Said’s children’s books, will reveal an award-winning set when it visits the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio from 25 to 28 September.

Designer Rhys Jarman won the 2007 Linbury Biennial Prize for Stage Design for his vision of the production and has since been working with the Opera Group to make his designs a reality.

The Linbury Biennial, founded in 1987, gives recently graduated stage designers the chance to work with professional theatre companies. John Fulljames, Artistic Director of the Opera Group and director of this production, commented: "We are always looking for ways to nurture artists of the future and greatly value the Linbury Prize as a way of enabling us to work with and be inspired by new design and new designers. Rhys's designs for Varjak Paw need to work within tight financial and touring constraints. He has taken those limits and turned them to his advantage in a beautiful and elegant design."

Based on the award-winning children’s books Varjak Paw and The Outlaw Varjak Paw, this new stage adaptation has music by Julian Philips and lyrics by Kit Hesketh-Harvey.

It tells the story of a young Mesopotamian Blue cat, Varjak, who lives high in a house on a hill. No one in his family has ever set paw outside – not since their legendary ancestor Jalal. But when the sinister Gentleman and his two black cats come to the house, Varjak must seek help. Alone in a dark and dangerous city, he encounters a world of tough street cats and discovers in himself an ancient and magical martial art.

Jarman’s set designs promise a cat’s-eye view of a towering cityscape, while bold costumes will conjure a cast of furry felines. Wearing his designs will be an ensemble of singers and actors led by Akiya Henry, whose previous stage credits include Carmen Jones at the Royal Festival Hall and Coram Boy at the National Theatre.

Varjak Paw plays for five performances only at the Royal Opera House as part of a UK tour and is suitable for theatregoers aged eight and over.



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