Conductor Freddie Tapner spoke to Love London Love Culture about the London Musical Theatre Orchestra’s latest concert ‘King’, playing at the Hackney Empire on the 30th June and 1st July. 

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Hi, thanks so much for talking to Love London Love Culture. For those who aren’t familiar with ‘King’ could you explain a bit more about what it is about?  KING tells the story of Martin Luther King – his activism, his legacy, and of course, his speeches.

What was your first experience with ‘King’? How did you discover it?  LMTO were introduced to KING by Susie McKenna about a year ago – I knew we had to be involved just from her passion when talking about it. The show itself has only ever been seen once, 30 years ago at the Prince Edward theatre, and there was so much buzz around it that people are still talking about it to this day. When the writer, Martin Smith, tragically died a few years later, the show was put on the shelf – until this weekend!

When you first heard the music – what were you first impressions of it?  I just loved how epic each tune was. Also the variety – it’s sometimes a glorious symphonic sound, and other times a funk-tastic Hamilton-esque rap.

What would you say the relevance this musical has in 2018? In the political climate we find ourselves in, there couldn’t be a better time to hear Martin Luther King’s words again. His most famous speech, “I Have A Dream”, features heavily – and having seen Cedric Neal rehearse it, I can say it still has significant resonance today.

Is there a particular piece of music or song that you enjoy the most from the show? “Keep On Believing”. It’s the big ballad of the show, sung by Sharon D Clarke. It’s the moment where we see King’s mother, Alberta, comforting King after he was forbidden from playing with his white friends as a child. I get goosebumps every time we rehearse it.

What can audiences expect from ‘King’?  A really special evening out, and a night to remember. Oh, and a little bit of “take me to church”…

By Emma Clarendon 

KING is at Hackney Empire Saturday 30th June at 7.30pm & Sunday 1st July at 5pm. For tickets go to: https://hackneyempire.co.uk/whats-on/king-concert-musical-martin-smith/