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HITTING THE RIGHT NOTE; Musical festival attracting thousands of people.

Byline: Laura Nicklin

CARDIFF'S musical extravaganza is certainly hitting the right note with people from all over the world.

The International Festival of Musical Theatre has already attracted thousands of visitors - and it hasn't even hit the halfway mark yet.

Organisers are expecting this week's shows - which include some of the festival's jewels in the crown - to be just as successful.

The festival's chief executive Joanne Benjamin said: ``The response we have had to the shows we have put on so far has been absolutely fabulous.

``It is exceeding all our expectations.'' But it is not just the people of South Wales who are enjoying the shows.

``We have had a group of people attending some of the performance and the masterclasses who have travelled from Perth in Australia,'' said Joanne.

The festival's showcase weekend begins on Thursday night with Czech theatre group TA Fantastika's production of Joan of Arc at St David's Hall.

This production, which has dialogue in English and songs in Czech, has proved a hit during its two-year run in Prague.

On Friday night, St David's Hall will be filled with the sounds of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel.

The musical, which was first performed on Broadway in 1945, is described as a tragic tale of love and redemption in the 19th Century.

And the culmination of the weekend comes on Saturday night with the European premiere of the four-time Tony award-winning Broadway hit Ragtime the Musical.

Based on E L Doctorow's novel Ragtime, the musical charts the lives of three American families at the turn of the century. For this performance the musical score will be performed by the International Festival Orchestra with Maria Friedman and Graham Bickley taking the lead roles.

Joanne is looking forward to the shows.

She said: ``There has been a lot of interest in the show.''

# Joan Of Arc starts at 7.30pm on Thursday; Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel starts at 7.30pm on Friday; Ragtime The Musical starts at 7.30pm on Saturday. All three performances are at St David's Hall, Cardiff. For more information or to book, call the festival hotline on 0870 904 2003 or log on to the website at www.cardiffmusicals.com
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 22, 2002
Words:368
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