Steve Pratt discovers how York Theatre Royal’s choir has a key role to play in The Coppergate Woman

Musical director Maddy Hudson believes that York Theatre Royal's choir is ‘very unusual’.

It is not, for instance, a choir that meets regularly and does two concerts a year to raise money for a specific cause. There is much more to it than that.

The choir is there to serve the theatre and its productions. I suppose you might say that collectively these singers are one of the actors.

“It’s fantastic to have a choir that can be offered to composers for projects and particularly the larger scale community productions,” she says.

“We are there to serve the theatre and for a choir to be associated with a producing theatre is very unusual. I admire and appreciate York Theatre Royal for that commitment.”

The choir was formed for the community production of In Fog and Falling Snow at the National Railway Museum in York in 2015. After that, Covid put paid to several community shows and the choir fell silent. Now after a week of concerts and a version of God Save the Queen for the jubilee celebrations, the choir is preparing for The Coppergate Woman this summer.

Maureen Lennon’s script for the play features Norse gods in modern-day York. Composer and musical director Nicolas Lewis is setting Maureen’s lyrics to music. “New music is arriving all the time as the production progresses,” says Maddy.

There will be upwards of 60 people in the choir - although they won’t all sing every night. Unusually, and perhaps fittingly for a play featuring Gods, the choir will perform in the gallery - or the ‘gods’, as the uppermost part of the auditorium is sometimes referred to. As they’ll be facing the stage, the choir will get to see the production every night.

The choir comprises regular singers joined by extra members of the community who applied to be in the production’s choir. “What we’ve found in the past is that many people who come into a production for the first time decide to stay,” says Maddy.

“This is a lovely tribute to the welcome they receive and the work we do. It’s quite a friendly group – although we are always short of men!”

The Coppergate Woman runs at York Theatre Royal from July 30- August 7. Box office 01904 623568/