Tonight, 12 July a cast of local school children will take to the Crucible stage alongside acclaimed jazz singer Cleveland Watkiss in Shadowball, a compelling jazz opera about baseball, and the culmination of a groundbreaking education project by the Hackney Music Development Trust (HMDT).
95 youngsters, aged between 9-11 years old, from Netherthorpe and Springfield primary schools will take part in the pioneering project, which will last from June until the performance on Thursday 12 July. They will learn about the historical context and themes of the story through specially designed lesson plans and activities, including six weeks of baseball training from BaseballSoftballUK. The project aims to inspire confidence, teamwork and teach a range of high quality performance and sporting skills in a professional environment.
Written by acclaimed jazz artist JulIan Joseph and Mike Phillips, Shadowball tells the story of Negro League baseball players excluded from the Major Leagues, whose talent went unacknowledged whilst their jazz compatriots, iconic legends like Cab Calloway, reached heights of stardom by defining a new art form. Together, these larger than life personalities helped change America forever. Inspired by the era of Ellington and Armstrong, Joseph’s swinging score will entertain the whole family with 110 minutes of none-stop home runs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
Rehearsals for Shadowball begin mid June for four weeks, led by a professional creative team including ‘jazz singer of the year’ Cleveland Watkiss. The team will visit each school on alternate days until Monday 9 July when both schools will unite ahead of their two performances at the Crucible Theatre on Thursday 12 July. They will perform on stage with Cleveland Watkiss and The JulIan Joseph Quintet at 1.30pm and 7.30pm in full costume and with a professional set.
Awarded the highly coveted ‘Inspire Mark’ by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games for its premiere in 2010, Shadowball is part of a national tour which also includes dates in Birmingham and Manchester.
Shadowball is being performed at the Crucible Theatre as part of the Sheffield Children’s Festival on Thursday 12 July at 1.30pm & 7.30pm. Tickets can be purchased from Sheffield Theatres’ Box Office in-person, by phone on 0114 249 6000 or online at sheffieldtheatres.co.uk and are priced from £8.00 - £11.00, with discounts available.