Tomorrow, Saturday 16 September 2023, marks the start of a new term for Leeds Grand Youth Theatre. Following their production of The Addams Family, we sat down with LGYT alumnus Gabriel, who has taken a step back from the stage and towards the keyboard.
Written by Kate Southam
The Addams Family
Tell me a little about your role with the youth theatre this year.
I’m the Assistant Musical Director with the production this year, which means that I’ve been helping Pete Rosser (Musical Director) out, helping people to learn songs, playing the piano for rehearsals, and then in the band I’m playing Keyboard 2, so it’s been a really great experience.
Over lockdown, I wrote a musical that we performed as part of a showcase in the summer. For the production the year after, Imaginary, Lizi and Pete asked me to move into the musical directing position, so it was sort of writing music that I came into the performance role.
Playing the keyboard in the band has been my favourite part of the role, because it’s made me a better performer. I think there were lots of weaknesses in my performing ability before that I’ve sort of been able to partially iron out, like sight reading and that kind of thing. And playing in a group as well has been a great experience.
National Theatre New Views is a national in-school playwriting programme. Each school is paired with a professional playwright, who mentors students in writing their own 30-minute plays. This year, Gabriel’s play was shortlisted and had a rehearsed reading with professional actors.
I’d love to hear about the play that you wrote with National Theatre. What was that like?
That was a brilliant experience. National Theatre run a programme called New Views, which helps young writers to create plays and then some plays are selected and performed by actors at the National Theatre. And that was a brilliant experience, because I got to work with a professional playwright to develop my play, and then that was fortunately shortlisted by National Theatre, and I got to see it brought to life, which was a brilliant experience.
[Seeing professional actors get stuck into my work was] bizarre, really! You write a play and it’s… you sort of have an idea of the characters in your own head, but to see it brought to life by other people and their own interpretation of it… It’s amazing, but it’s really sort of bizarre.
This is not the first time that Gabriel has worked with the Creative Team within LGYT. In 2022, for the youth theatre’s production of Imaginary, Gabriel also worked as Assistant Musical Director. During lockdown, he wrote Stars, a musical which was then performed by Group Three of LGYT as part of their summer showcase.
Since joining LGYT in 2014, Gabriel has taken part in a range of the youth theatre’s productions, including playing the lead role of Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors.
This has been Gabriel’s last official show with LGYT before he goes off to university, where he plans to study English and carry on writing and playing music.
What’s next for you?
I’m going to Cambridge University in October to do English. So I’d like to carry on writing and playing music as well, and hopefully turn that into a career in the future. Fingers crossed!
I’m really looking forward to it. I mean, I’m a bit… there’s a trepidation that comes with leaving the place you’ve lived for eighteen years, but I’m looking forward to the new challenge that comes with it.
My younger brother’s still in the youth theatre, so it’s nice to still have that connection. And hopefully I’ll come back and play for the band again next year!
Leeds Heritage Theatres Engagement Fund
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