Sowing the seeds for star turn with Divine frontman

CHAMBER OPERA Lytham's Tim Clarke with The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon while working on the pop-chamber opera in May

CHAMBER OPERA Lytham's Tim Clarke with The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon while working on the pop-chamber opera in May

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Tim Clarke already has West End star, rock band singer, and landscape gardener on his CV.

Now the Lytham lad is about to add another string to a rather considerable bow – co-producer of a pop-chamber opera written by Divine Comedy star Neil Hannon, which has its UK premiere next week.

It has been a labour of love for Clarke, who got involved in the project in 2007.

More of that in a moment, first a bit of background on Tim.

He grew up on Green Drive in Lytham (his mum still lives in the area), went to St Joseph’s College (near Stanley Park, now a housing estate) and then, devoid of ideas about what to do as a career, started playing bars in Blackpool in the nattily-named cabaret band Bazooka Joe.

Next came a few years abroad in France and Germany, which is where the gardening comes in. “I worked as a landscape gardener during the day and went to music sessions at night,” recalled Tim. “I had this bizarre lawnmowers and rock n’ roll lifestyle.”

Tim eventually returned to Blackpool and did a performing arts degree as a mature student, then got a post grad in electronic composition.

He began singing in hotels and clubs on the Fylde coast, sang on a TV show, then got his big breakthrough when he auditioned for Bill Kenwright and landed a role in Jesus Christ Superstar.

He went on to perform on the West End stage more than 800 times, as well as finding time to release an album of his own songs, To Love And Be Loved, last year.

Next comes the Neil Hannon opera. Called In May, and described as an emotional piece about a young man coming to the end of his life, it has been in the planning stage for a while.

“I was approached by a writer in 2007 who asked me to translate a piece from German into English,” explained Tim, 54.

“He mentioned he wanted Neil as the composer so through my contacts I set up a meeting and it went from there.

“I’m basically the one who has tied all the different elements together but it has taken a long time for it all to come to fruition.”

Things started to properly move forward a couple of years ago when Hannon took six weeks out of his busy schedule to write and record the music at Ray Davies’ studio in London.

And all the hard work will finally be seen by an audience when the production makes it stage debut at Glasgow’s Tramway Theatre on Saturday March 15. It will be performed again in Brighton four days later and plans for an autumn tour are afoot.

Asked what the audience can expect, Tim said: “On the stage there will be a string quintet and piano and a vocalist. There’s also a very complex video projection system which provides the backdrop for the set, so both musically and visually it will be very interesting.”

For more details about Tim’s project go to www.inmay.co.uk