Don’t miss the Train …

By Shirley Roberts
Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin
Sunday 27th July 2014

The Soller Train is our mascot and the number one tourist attraction on the island of Majorca . It is safe to say that Sollerics love their train and many of them have been brought up on the proceeds of it. A hundred years ago when the train tracks were being dug out of the mountains and engineering at its finest was taking place the project almost came to a halt because of lack of funds. The Fathers of Soller dug deep and invited all the people of the City of Soller to do the same and become financial shareholders of the Train of Soller. The train and the people of Soller have remained inextricably linked since those days. The fortunes of the train and Soller’s people have had their highs and lows and the car and the Soller Tunnel could have finished it altogether. Wise management with foresight to understand its potential within the tourism framework of the island allowed the train and the tram to become what they are today.

Fast forward a hundred or so years and another project concerning the train is running along parallel lines. Mallorca Musicals are a company born out of the Isla Theatre Project. The directors are people who love Soller, its train and its people. The majority of them live in the Soller Valley and understand the part that the train plays in this City. The ambition of this group was to bring a traditional musical to the stage of Majorca with a Soller edge to it. The criteria they set themselves were to launch a romantic, feel good summer musical in three languages. They wanted to be the musical that brought in Spanish, English and German people every week for their own performances in their own language. The German composer and conductor Klaus Hillebrecht wrote a musical with words and songs in three languages and the stage was set to start.

Where do you begin to fund this huge project? No one has money for speculation these days. Forget the banks and the large organisations – they only want to come on board when success is guaranteed. The history of Soller did a re -run with the leading lights looking to their friends and family to come up with the money to fund the musical. The Tren de Soller Musical was looking for an Angel to fund them – in the event they found a Host of Angels mostly with an English, American or German name on them.

The casting of the project and the identification of a theatre capable of hosting what they planned was the next hurdle. A walk past the cinema in Palma which coincidentally was right next door to the station to Soller gave the crew their venue for this year. The Sala Augusta was previously a theatre, converted into a cinema and now re created as a 250 seat theatre especially for this production. It is a perfect location in the heart of Palma and at the hub of all the transport links to the City. The owners of the building have been so supportive and cannot contain their delight in seeing the place go back to its original form as a busy theatre.

The casting of the show went through all the usual stages of auditions and trials in multilingualism. This has worked in some cases and there are actors on the team that are capable of appearing in all languages. The need to have three casts for the show is there but is helped by the multitasking of others. The Emmy award winning nominee Author is German, the producer is Spanish, and the technical director is American. So the leaders of this team knew before a cast member was appointed what they would have to do to be part of this project. This is a very interesting sociological exercise for this group to achieve this ambition in the multicultural diversity that is Majorca in 2014.

The musical is set in all the tradition of romantic comedies – It is the story of a young German girl Susanna who travels to Majorca for the first time to look for Miguel a young Majorcan she met on holiday in Greece. To find him she boards the train to Soller where she meets different characters from the various cultures who have all found their home on this beautiful island. The journey becomes a splendid adventure with Majorcan fiestas, an African declaration of love, a professor teaching Majorcan to the people and much more. Susanna soon realizes how difficult life can be when people don’t speak the same language but all the travellers on the train are sympathetic towards the German girl and want to help her find Miguel.

A happy ending seems inevitable – if it wasn’t for Miguel planning his own journey at the same time. The question is – will they find each other in the end?

So a feel good musical theatre experience where the audience learns a little about what makes Majorca tick along the way. The backdrop of the romantic old fashioned train and the stunning scenery is not fiction but fact for Sollerics – this is what we live with every day. The plan is that the show runs eight performances over six days a week through the summer season starting on Thursday 7th August 2014. The full schedule plus the language it is being performed in can be found on their website . The website also gives details of ticket reductions for Majorca residents.

Meanwhile in the last two weeks before the show has its glittering premier on 7th August there is much work still left to do. The rehearsals are underway and the publicity machine is rolling. Television appearances and radio interviews are happening and the general antennae of Majorca is being lifted towards this event. A large workshop in the L’horta area of Soller is the set building unit and the team there are having the best time. No sooner have they built one part of the set when they have to down tools to explain to yet another local group just what they are doing there. The young people of Soller are particularly interested and are talking as if Hollywood has arrived in Soller. The excitement grows daily and when they heard that plans are already underway for a far longer season for this musical next year they, like us were delighted.

Tickets are on sale all the City of Palma Tourist Offices and many other outlets plus online ticket sales and seat choices from The Soller Train are right behind all that is going on here and once the show starts will illuminate a poster of the musical from the station in Palma onto the Sala Augusta Theatre . The night sky will be full of the images of the Tren de Soller Musical.

To come back to where I started, like the train in its early days this project is hugely ambitious, linguistically inclusive and ready to take on all the doubters. The Soller Train has an important story to tell of just how all the different cultures of Majorca co exist in harmony with the Majorcans own past and vibrant history. This is 2014 version of the reason that many of us have chosen to live in this most magical of places. There will be other stories over the coming weeks about the actors and the special people who have made this project happen but my contribution is to whet your appetite for this special musical theatre experience. I hope I have succeeded …

The Composer and Author

 Sollerweb Website

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