WHERE in the world could you find 12 of the most popular musical shows ever written being performed in two theatres over 14 days this summer?

Broadway? No. The West End? No. Harrogate? Yes, at ClassicFest at the Royal Hall and Harrogate Theatre from August 18 to 31.

The festival is put together by the same team that presents the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, now in its 20th season.

“It’s going to be an amazing 14-day festival of opera, operetta, musical theatre and Gilbert and Sullivan,” says organiser Bernard Lockett.

“It’s unique in Europe and this year will feature full-scale performances of Evita; Orpheus In The Underworld; Salad Days; Fiddler On the Roof; Miss Saigon; Guys And Dolls; La Boheme; The Merry Widow; The Phantom Of The Opera; and three Gilbert and Sullivan favourites, The Pirates Of Penzance, Iolanthe and Princess Ida.

“There’s also a Lerner and Loewe Broadway spectacular and Fringe events featuring the uniquely British Flanders and Swann, Noel Coward and Ivor Novello.”

ClassicFest has been awarded a licence to present an amateur youth theatre production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom Of The Opera at Harrogate Theatre on August 29 and 30 at 7.30pm.

Auditions were held for performers aged 14 to 21 at the Majestic Hotel ballroom in June and rehearsals will start on August 19. The show will be directed by Ian Milford, director of Belfast’s Fusion Theatre, whose performance of Chess at last year’s ClassicFest received a standing ovation. Fusion Theatre return this summer with a youth theatre production of Evita at Harrogate Theatre on August 19 at 7.30pm.

Further festival highlights at Harrogate Theatre include the Ferenc Listz Music Academy, from Hungary, performing Orpheus In The Underworld in Hungarian on August 20 at 7.30pm; North West Productions’ Salad Days on August 21, 7.30pm; Trent Opera’s Fiddler On The Roof, August 22, 7.30pm; and Rotherham Teachers’ Student Academy’s Miss Saigon, Schools Edition, August 27, 7.30pm.

ClassicFest’s own production of Guys And Dolls follows on August 28, 7.30pm and Heritage Opera close the festival with La Boheme, August 31, 7.30pm. Puccini’s study of young love and loss will be presented in a new English translation with tenor Nicholas Sales and soprano Sarah Helsby Hughes as the star-crossed lovers, Rodolfo and Mimi.

The Royal Hall plays host to the G & S Opera Company’s Princess Ida on August 18, 2.30pm and 7.30pm; ClassicFest Opera Company’s The Merry Widow, August 23, 7.30pm; and the G & S Opera Company’s Iolanthe, August 24, 2.30pm and 7.30pm, The National Festival Orchestra and West End soloists join together for a choral spectacular, Broadway Musicals, on August 25, 2.30pm; ClassicFest Opera Company stage The Merry Widow on August 25, 7.30pm; and the G & S Opera Company perform The Pirates Of Penzance, August 26, 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

The full programme can be viewed at classicfest.org

In addition, ClassicFest presents Fusicals, Fusion Theatre’s celebration of all-time favourite musicals, at Richmond School on August 8 and A Night Of Operetta with the Ferenc Listz University of Music at Masham Town Hall on August 17, both starting at 7.30pm.

• For ClassicFest tickets, phone 01423 502116.