FILM-MAKERS documenting the life of composer George Frideric Handel have today (Monday, February 24) taken over an historic North Yorkshire theatre.

Film crews from Groberg Films and Two Productions are on location in Richmond today and tomorrow, and are using dozens of local extras as audience members at Handel concerts being performed at the town's Georgian Theatre Royal.

Steve Bache, casting director and location manager from Two Productions, said the story of Handel and his most famous Italian opera, Messiah, was being told through dramatised scenes and interviews with leading academics in the UK and US.

He said: “The Georgian Theatre is being used as around four separate theatres for the purposes of the film as we are documenting various stages of Handel’s life.

“There are very few theatres in the UK that have authentic Georgian roots, and this one has a full, original interior so it was the best choice for us.”

Director Lee Groberg said the small space was not without its challenges.

He said: “It is a very small space but it just forces us to think in more confined terms.

“We have filmed so far in Germany and Italy, as well as on location around the UK and have used some fantastic buildings and this is one of them.

“There’s just nothing like this in the US.”

Mr Bache said he had been inundated with requests to be part of a troupe of local extras after an appeal was printed in The Northern Echo and he apologised to those who had been unsuccessful.

He said: “It has been a fantastic process so far, with more than 400 cast members, 21 days of filming and locations including the Royal Crescent in Bath, the banks of the Thames, Barclay Castle in Gloucestershire, and Dover Castle.

“We will finish in Bury St Edmund. After post production, the film will be aired on US cable channel BYU TV in December.”

The film follows Handel’s life as he meets the people who influence him and led to the completion of Messiah, including Charles Jennens who compiled the scriptural text from the King James Bible; and Susannah Cibber, a popular singer and actress of the day who sang soprano in Messiah.

The film will be available to view online in December, with the date still to be fixed, at