Butterflies avert disaster at King’s Head opera

A PAIR of Madam Butterflies proved the show must go on when they flew to the rescue after a traffic disaster threatened to ruin their King’s Head opera performance on Monday night.

The Little Opera House’s production of the famous Bangkok-based musical looked doomed when the musical director got stranded on the gridlocked A40 as she drove from Reading to the Upper Street venue.

Ms Wilkes usually plays the piano herself, and the only person who could possibly step in was Laura Casey, who was due to play Madam Butterfly herself.

Luckily, the production has three Butterflies, and Maggie Cooper just happened to be at the King’s Head anyway to audition for the upcoming Pagliacci show.

So Ms Casey took to the piano and Ms Cooper took to the stage, and miraculously the performance passed off seemlessly.

Adam Spreadbury-Maher, artistic director at the King’s Head Theatre and director of Madam Butterfly, said: “Laura began her training as a concert pianist before discovering her voice and changing to opera halfway through her degree in Australia. She doesn’t play much these days, but it’s like riding a bike!

“So they asked Maggie and she walked out of a Pagliacci audition and into her Butterfly frock. Then we asked Laura if she felt she could play the entire score of Butterfly and in about 3 seconds she said ‘yes, I will do anything I can to keep the show’.

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“And so she played. And she played it so tenderly and beautifully. And Maggie sung Butterfly beautifully too.

“It was such a lovely evening - a real company feel, everybody pitching in to save the show.”