A very happy birthday to city-based musical theatre group What We Did Next, who are celebrating turning five in May with a special concert this week.
Established in 2008, the company is marking five years since its inaugural production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company at the Kazimier back in in May 2009.
The birthday concert – at LEAF on Bold Street this Wednesday (April 23) will feature songs from their previous productions, as well as other musical theatre favourites and adaptations of pop classics, all performed by the WWDN Singers – a choir set up as part of the company, giving members an alternative to being involved in full-scale productions.
WWDN has says it has always tried to be one step ahead in its choice of productions – and this much is true. In five years they have staged Company, Into the Woods, Rent, The Last 5 Years, Spring Awakening, Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, and Bat Boy, in a several cases predating professional productions by a couple of years.
Chairman Jamie Barfield says: “We wanted to do productions that many established companies didn’t seem to be doing at the time. This was when we realised we could have more control over the theatre we produce by setting up our own company – most of us have been involved in amateur theatre before and we’ve all enjoyed our many and varied experiences. But we realised the time had come to take ownership of what we exhibited on stage, make it our own, make it a success.”
WWDN host their own open mic nights, collaborate with other student and community groups for musical showcases, and although no one in the company is paid, it has provided a professional stepping stone for several members.
Their next full-length production is coming up in June, when the company will return to the Unity theatre for the third time with a revival of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. They say they aim to put their contemporary stamp on the classic musical, which, of course, features the original version of You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Jamie says: “We know that a lot of people love being connected to the stage in whatever way possible and think this love provides the perfect excuse to socialise with like-minded people. With this at the forefront, we aim to produce musicals that our members want to perform, theatre that gets people interested, involved and thinking.”
This week’s anniversary concert at LEAF starts at 8pm on Wednesday (April 23). Tickets are £5 on the door (£4 for WWDN members).