Last night we went to see the Morley Operatic performing at Leeds’ new amateur theatre, the Carriageworks. This opened two years ago and this is the second time that MAOS have put on a show there.
The theatre seats up to 349, although several side seats are restricted view and seating capacity drops if the orchestra pit is ued.
The theatre is opposite the Civic Hall on the Leeds Patio Millennium Square and here is a shot of the building from last week.
The entrance at ground floor level has the box office and stairs down to an internal courtyard area that has various bars & restaurants known as the Electric Press Courtyard.
The theatre is actually two venues and several meeting rooms spread across four upper floors. On one of the half landings, I was pleased to find a painting of the former civic theatre which has now been changed back into its original format to become the Leeds Arena within the Leeds City Museum, as mentioned last weekend.
There was some form of private function going on in the first floor foyer (patrons and Councillors) so we went up to the 2nd floor bar that has great views out onto the square.
David spotted that they were selling Revels and as he reckoned he hadn’t had any before, persuaded us to buy him a bag to munch during the show. (He had heard about the “eviction” and definitely suggests coffee flavour to go).
Inside the theatre, it feels very intimate, although the proscenium arch is a full 31’6″, a very good width for most shows. The rows are rather cramped though and the seats bounce when people move in the stalls area as the rows behind the cross-aisle are on put-away bleachers.
I was delighted to see a dozen musicians in the orchestra pit, the standard MAOS musical fare for shows I have previously seen is for three keyboards and a drummer but it never sounds as rich (or unsynthesised) as individual musicians. I noticed that one lady didn’t actually have an instrument and I eventually twigged that she was the prompter!
The theatre has three galleries either side. The tiered stalls area rises to the second level (with extensive control rooms beyond) and the third level becomes a shallow balcony of about five rows. This courtyard style of seating is at its best by papering the walls with people, but as the show wasn’t sold out he side rows were somewhat empty.
I was also delighted to see a rich set of red velvet tabs (tableaux curtains) flown in and used for the interval and curtain calls. They were entirely without embellishment (as was the plain false proscenium above.
The show was Cole Porter’s Anything Goes and it has certainly stood the test of time, with its opening in 1934 and many of the songs still well known today. The set was on the foredeck of an ocean liner, with scenes held within on a selection of (rather wobbly) stage trucks. The show was very well performed, the singing varying from OK to excellent. Yorkshire accents would occasionally infect the trans-atlantic twang however…
MAOS are able to put on a much better show in this theatre than the Morley Town Hall and the lighting is several magnitudes of quality better, having an extensive rig to call on.
The sound was mostly OK, but some of the cast wearing clip-on radio mics managed to catch them on occasions, causing a brief sonic earthquake.
I had heard mixed reviews of this theatre but I decided that I liked it, it felt theatrical and that is what counts.
By th way, here is the latest on the Revels…
Rats, I like the coffee ones!