If you are going to stage a big outdoor concert of hits from the classic musicals, who else would you get to run the show but Geoffrey Castles?
With seasons of Les Miserables, Aladdin and Mary Poppins under his belt, Castles will be right at home conducting the Canberra Symphony Orchestra for the first time at its annual Prom outing to Government House.
Naturally when he got the gig he phoned his Les Mis star Simon Gleeson to join him, while Genevieve Kingsford, with whom he has recently worked in Sweeney Todd, was already on board.
Castles pulled the program together – a mix of memorable numbers across musical time and space, from Cole Porter to Guys and Dolls to My Fair Lady to West Side Story to Wicked, Les Mis and, for the young at heart, Frozen.
“I tried to find something that I thought would prove entertaining for all ages but also would be satisfying for myself, and Simon and Genevieve, and the orchestra,” he said.
The big name composers are all there: Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Castles and Gleeson will revisit Bring Them Home from Les Mis.
But it won’t be Elsa’s Let It Go from Frozen blowing the leaves off the tree, but Love Is An Open Door, one of half a dozen duets on the bill.
“I tried to keep it varied and split the load as evenly as possible. There are five or six solos each and then the duets,” Castles said.
Castles loves that musicals tell a story. “It’s all about communicating and storytelling, and also the incredible range of styles you get to work with, everything from the 1930s to contemporary pop,” he said.
Gleeson just loves to be out in front of a big orchestra, especially one such as the CSO, which he has heard play “beautifully”.
“You kind of feel like a god, in front of such an amount of people and massive sound,” he said.
“You can do a more sweeping, cinematic repertoire … I don’t miss out in throwing some sound out so I quite enjoy it.”
He was also looking forward to the duets, saying singing with Kingsford for the first time will be quite a treat.
The Shell Prom on the lawns of Government House at Yarralumla has been running for close to four decades. The picnic concert is an opportunity to enjoy beautiful music in a relaxed, family-friendly environment.
Visit the Canberra Symphony Orchestra for tickets.
CONCERT | Shell Prom
6:00 pm, Saturday, 30 November, gates open 4:45 pm
Lawns of Government House, Dunrossil Drive, Yarralumla
Conductor: Geoffrey Castles
Vocalist: Simon Gleeson
Vocalist: Genevieve Kingsford.
Tickets $25 to $30. Family passes $70. Group discounts available.