A TONY award-winning play will be performed at Shelley Theatre in Bournemouth from Wednesday, February 5 to Saturday, February 8.

Masterclass, written by American playwright Terrence McNally in 1995, is set in the 1970s and follows a fictional masterclass delivered by iconic opera singer Maria Callas at Julliard School in New York. The production won a Tony Award for Best Play in 1996.

The play is brought to life by Bournemouth-based theatre company Questa Teatro, part of the Questa group. Producer Ian Evans said: "Masterclass is a challenging production because whoever is playing Maria Callas performs 90 per cent of the show. Not only do they have to act, but they also have to perform opera."

Maria is played by Merilee Brunet, a trained opera singer whose character imparts her wisdom to three students and shares the glories of her life and career.

Of Merilee, Ian says: "She has a phenomenal voice. She plays perfectly a glamorous, larger-than-life and extremely funny personality who tears the students to shreds. Yet despite being hilarious, her performance is also incredibly moving."

Maria Callas herself was an American Greek soprano and one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century. Her repertoire ranged from the classic operas of Bellini, Rossini, Verdi and Puccini to the music dramas of Wagner.

Audience members of Masterclass will be transported back to 1970s New York, experiencing life as an opera student at the prestigious Julliard School. Ian promises: "There will not be a dry eye in the house. Seeing people moved is a moment to treasure for any performer or producer. We cannot wait to share our play at the beginning of February."

The series of shows begins with a relaxed performance on Wednesday, February 5, at 6pm. The auditorium remains lit, providing a more suitable atmosphere for audiences who may benefit from an unrestricted environment. Tickets for this performance only are £12.

Standard performances will take place on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets are £15, available from the Shelley Theatre website or box office.