Sunday, 24 January 2016


The hotel room I was staying in in Leeds was on the eighth floor of a tall building, which meant, when I woke up this morning, I was able to look out across the entire city. I love Leeds. It's got such a fascinating skyline. We were staying in the part of town which flooded really badly just after Christmas, and the area outside the hotel was being entirely repaved. I genuinely can't imagine how high the river must have been in order for that area to flood. It's very scary.

We were running auditions at the Northern School of dance. One of the rooms we were meant to be using had been water damaged, so acting auditions were held in a separate building across the street. Fortunately I was running music auditions today, so I got to stay in the main building and didn't have to chaperone young people to and fro.

It's always great to be back in Leeds, and we met some wonderful performers today. Leeds is obviously the home of Brass and it's such a thrill to hear that wonderfully familiar accent. Sally, who was in the show last time, was auditioning again today. She's a far more assured and mature performer than she was when I last saw her. I do worry for the older girls who are auditioning this year. Competition for roles is going to be huge. I could already cast Brass three times over, and we've not been able to recall performers who, when we last did the show, would have easily have been good enough to be in it. I try to recall as few as possible. I want everyone who comes back to have a fighting chance of getting a role.

There was a lovely chap there today who seemed a little older than the other lads. It turns out he's a chemistry teacher and that, in the last year he's eligible to do NYMT, he's finally in the financial position to be able to afford to do it (should he be lucky enough to get a role.)

He came up to me after the auditions and said, "I've a funny story about you..." My heart started pounding as I worried what he might be about to say, but the story was just lovely...

More this two years ago, Jezza and I had gone up to Leeds for the day to look at the City Varieties theatre as a possible venue for the first run of Brass. On the way up, I'd got chatting to a young lad, who must have told me he liked acting, because I'd suggested he audition for Brass. I remember the conversation vividly. I'd thought how interesting he looked and hoped very much he'd turn up to audition. He didn't, and I subsequently forgot all about the encounter. Until today, when he finally turned up to audition for the show! How wonderful is that story?

Brass is happening at the Hackney Empire Theatre for just three performances at the end of August. I personally suggest you book to see all three. The production is going to be extraordinary. I mean extraordinary! I'm very excited.

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