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New musical of love changed everything for Jean 25 years ago

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: August 26, 2014

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Kelly Tyler previews Aspects Of Love, which is coming to Derbyshire for the first time this week with Present Company.

IT was 25 years ago that Jean Gemmell first saw Andrew Lloyd Webber's production, Aspects Of Love.

Jean had only recently started up Derbyshire-based Present Company and said that she "fell in love" with the show.

And she has spent many years trying desperately to obtain permission to put on a version of Aspects Of Love on herself.

Last year, she was granted authorisation and later this month the show will take to the stage for the first time in Derbyshire.

"I saw the original production in London 25 years ago – the same day I saw Miss Saigon," says Jean.

"While the rest of the world was talking about that production, I fell in love with Aspects Of Love.

"It's very unlike Andrew Lloyd Webber's other productions.

"It's very much about people and what they are thinking, their emotions."

The modern opera – which is now celebrating its 25th anniversary – is a romantic, joyful and tumultuous story.

Set in France, the intricate plot charts the tangled relationships of two Englishmen, Alex and his uncle George, with three women – a French actress called Rose, an Italian sculptor called Giulietta and Rose's daughter Jenny.

Jean explains: "The story is sung all the way through. There are only about four lines of dialogue in the whole show.

"There are five major principals and, between them, they tell the story.

"Rose is the main heroine of the piece and Alex – who was originally played by Michael Ball – falls in love with her.

"She is broke and out-of-work, as she is an actress. Alex takes her in to stay with him at his uncle's villa, after breaking in.

"When Alex's uncle George finds out, he turns up to see what is going on.

"He is wealthy and charming and Rose abandons Alex – who goes in the Army – and lives with George.

"They marry and together have Jenny.

"When Alex comes back out of the Army, he meets Rose and her daughter Jenny, who he begins to see, even though there is 16-year age difference.

"The plot also involves Giulietta, a sculptor, who is George's mistress.

"She has relationships with Alex, Rose – and a long-standing affair with George.

"The story really is about people's emotional turmoil.

"It suggests that people can have two emotions at once and can love more than one person at a time."

Jean said that the music in the production, which is based on the novella by David Garnett, was "splendid".

"The famous song, Love Changes Everything, is featured but one of my favourites songs in the production is Anything But Lonely – sung by Rose at the end of the show," says Jean.

"It is a powerful song and is a real treat."

Present Company, based in Derby, headed by Peter and Jean Gemmell, was launched in 1988 with Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music.

Jean has been trying to stage Aspects of Love for the last 17 years.

"Last year, I had a letter saying I could go ahead with it," she says.

"I feel very privileged. Very few companies have done it and very few people will have seen it."

Aspects of Love is at Buxton Opera House from tomorrow night until Saturday. Matinee is at 2.30pm on the Saturday. Tickets for evening performances from £14, for matinee from £12.50. Visit www.buxtonopera house.org.uk or call 0845 127 2190.

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