“It couldn’t get more Sheffield” – 6 things we know about Standing at the Sky’s Edge

On Tuesday afternoon Exposed headed down to the presser for Standing at the Sky’s Edge, the highly-anticipated Park Hill musical opening at the Crucible Theatre next month.

One of the main pulling points for audiences was the news that Sheffield music royalty Richard Hawley would be lending his considerable talents to the production, providing a soaring score consisting of new and old songs.

“It’s always been asking for people to tell its story,” Sheffield Theatres Artistic Director Robert Hastie told us, gesticulating to the famous building clearly visible through the Crucible’s windows. “It brings together three Sheffield icons – Park Hill, Richard Hawley and the Crucible.”

Award-winning Sheffield-born playwright Chris Bush, who last year brought the highly-acclaimed Steel to the venue’s Studio space, is on script duties and made no mistake in highlighting the importance in getting things right when it comes to Park Hill.

“It’s like we’re telling people’s stories here, and they’ll be upset if we got this wrong. But it’s definitely a satisfying challenge to take on.”

With just over a month until its opening, here are a few more key pieces of information we found out from the Q+A with Robert, Chris and Richard.

Some of the Hawley favourites will be in there
Some of the musician’s best-known songs have been reworked for members of the cast to perform during the musical. We were treated to a spine-tingling rendition of ‘Open Up Your Door’ by Maimuna Memon (who will play a character called Nikki), and a poignant performance of ‘After the Rain’ – which Hawley originally wrote for Dame Shirley Bassey –  from Rachael Wooding (who plays Rose).

As well as a few newbies
Listed alongside further classics such as ‘Coles Corner’, ‘As the Dawn Breaks’ and ‘Lady Solitude’ are new songs made exclusively for the production such as ‘Keys to Another World’ and ‘My Little Treasures’.

Image: Chris Saunders

The storyline will revolve around three families during different eras
“Park Hill is like an eye, appenture of post-war history condensed,” Hawley said on the iconic status of the building. The play will trace the structure’s story from its initial opening as much-needed post-war social housing to a more recent revival as private accommodation, and will do so by following three generations of characters.

Hawley initially thought it was “daftest idea he’d ever heard”.
“… Therefore I had to do it. As an artist you’ve got to keep pushing yourself; you can’t stagnate.” Despite initially admitting he always thought “musicals are shite”, the songwriter quickly warmed to the idea of  getting involved and lending his music to help tell Park Hill’s story.

There won’t be milk floats
The famous Park Hill milk floats won’t be making an appearance on the set, but they do get a mention. “We thought it might seem a little bit Benny Hill,” said Hastie.

But there will be a huge Park Hill set to admire
A three-storey high representation of the building will make up one of the biggest sets ever seen on the Crucible stage.

Standing at the Sky’s Edge runs 15 Mar – 6 Apr. Tickets are available here. 

You can read our feature Park Hill: Looking Back, Moving Forward here.

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