Wheels in motion as Scunthorpe gearing up for Cycle Song opera
Final preparations are under way for a soaring operatic extravaganza.
Cycle Song is a large-scale community opera celebrating the life and achievements of Olympic cyclist Albert "Lal" White.
Lal was a Scunthorpe steelworker who won countless trophies for cycling, including a silver medal at the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games.
The opera will premiere at Brumby Hall in Scunthorpe on July 14 and 15 in two performances.
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It will involve more than 1,500 North Lincolnshire residents as singers, musicians and dancers, alongside professional opera singers and aerial artists.
There will also be children taking part from 27 schools, as well as 200 orchestra players.
Musical director of the show, Sue Hollingworth, said rehearsals were going well.
She said: "The music sounds fantastic and we have received some great feedback.
"Everyone is rehearsing like mad and it is gradually starting to come together.
"The choir knows the music and words very well now, as they have been rehearsing since January.
"I am very excited about the performances, but it is an enormous venture. I just hope we can bring it all together."
Sue said the whole group will not rehearse together until the day before the performance.
She said: "It is a bit daunting that we will not be working together until then, but it will be fine.
"I am very proud of the opera and it sounds amazing.
"When I started plans for the show two years ago, I never thought it would get this big."
The opera was written by composer Tim Sutton and well-known poet Ian McMillan.
Ian is poet-in-residence for English National Opera, The Academy of Urbanism and Barnsley FC.
Over the past few weeks, the choirs have been learning songs like Mangle Magic, which tells the story of how Lal invented a machine so he could train in bad weather.
Sue said: "Hopefully this musical will show how tremendous Lal was and what he achieved.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for our young musicians to perform in a once-in-a-lifetime event that they will remember for years to come.
"After more than a year in the planning, it's wonderful to hear Cycle Song start to come to life."
Chloe Whitehead, director and choreographer of the show, said: "I feel extremely honoured to be involved in such an exciting project with so many brilliant young people.
"Working with young people always inspires me and so far this project has been going really well.
"The response from the children has been incredible and so enthusiastic and they're going to do North Lincolnshire proud."
North Lincolnshire Council is a lead partner in the project and regional arts group Tinpot is working on co-ordinating an arts programme on at the same time.
The Brumby Bash programme – a festival event themed around cycling, arts and sport – will be taking place at Brumby Hall in the run-up to the evening performances.
The event will include family-focused workshops and performances by local schools and arts groups.
Hayley McPhun, a member of Tinpot, said: "It is all very exciting and the Brumby Bash is all set to be great."
Cycle Song is a co-production by Proper Job theatre company and Scunthorpe Cooperative Junior Choir and has been commissioned by imove, a Cultural Olympiad programme in Yorkshire and Humber.
Gates will open at 6.30pm on both nights, with bands and orchestras providing entertainment until 8.30pm. The main show will start at 9pm.
Organisers have asked people to bring a folding chair or picnic blanket for the Cycle Song event.
There will be a bar and food stalls available. To buy a ticket, go to www.scunthorpetheatres. co.uk, or call 0844 854 2776.
Tickets are priced at £10, or £8 for concessions, and cost £30 for a family ticket.
For more information, go to www.cyclesong.co.uk