HOW do you open a new arts centre with a suitably-impressive production?
The Storyhouse new company's version of Beggar's Opera at the newly-opened venue is simpy awesome.
This Beggar's Opera musical is delightfully different. It's not an opera, really more a story with music.
Composer and musical director Harry Blake uses electric and double bass, electric and acoustic guitars, drums, trumpet and harpsichord/piano.
It sounds wonderful Adapted from John Gay's original by Glyn Maxwell, director Alex Clifton and designer Jess Curtis have created a period piece that is exciting and electrifying.
It is set in 18th century Chester where Peachum - a shady thief and criminal along with his equally villainous wife - are appalled that their daughter Polly is secretly engaged to dastardly (yet darkly dashing) highwayman Jack Macheath.
It is all skilfully delivered in costumes with diverse music from the lilting love songs and guitar-led, riffing rockers.
Many of the up tempo numbers reminded me of Adam and the Ants.
This 'adults only' (14-plus tale) is so beautifully crafted and performed that you don’t know what to expect next.
The 15-strong cast engage the audience throughout with an abundance of humour and fine singing and there is so much energy and frenetic fun going on via the storytelling.
Alex Mugnaioni is Macheath - an anti-hero of the first order.
Daniel Goode is more than good as the conniving, brandy-swilling Peachum.
Tom Connor, a hit with Everyman and Royal Court audiences, is at his versatile best as Suky Tawdry and Ben Budge.
Baker Mukasa as Filch and Jonathan Dryden Taylor as Lockit also shine.
Charlotte Miranda Smith as Polly and Nancy Sullivan's Scouse Lucy are both sublime in the comic timing department.
But everyone in the company deserves praise in this visual and aural theatrical treat.
So I recommend whole-heartedly that you treat yourself.
This Beggar's Opera is a sparkling curtain-opener for the superb Storyhouse season that will also see the company tackle Alice In Wonderland, Julius Caesar and Midsummer Night's Dream.
A great new company at work in a smashing arts centre that will be the envy of other cities.
Five stars - Beggar's Belief!
The show is at Storyhouse until August 19.
Tickets from the box office on 0844 815 7202.