THE RAGGED CHILD, THE HIRED MAN and BRASS Make Up 2014 Season at National Youth Music Theatre

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THE RAGGED CHILD, THE HIRED MAN and BRASS Make Up 2014 Season at National Youth Music Theatre

National Youth Music Theatre will present an exciting season of work for summer 2014, including a new commission to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War. The company of over 150 actors, musicians, creative and backstage teams aged between 11 and 23 will stage The Ragged Child at the Rose Theatre, Kingston (23 - 27 July), The Hired Man at the St. James Theatre, London (13 - 16 August) and Brass at the City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds (20 - 23 August).

Representing the very best in work with young people through musical theatre and, for over 35 years, enabling thousands of youngsters across the UK to develop both their creative and personal potential, the National Youth Music Theatre has been described by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber as "the finest youth music theatre in the world".

National Youth Music Theatre returns to the Rose Theatre Kingston 23-17 July as part of the International Youth Arts Festival with The Ragged Child - Jeremy James Taylor OBE and Frank Whately's production, which won the coveted Edinburgh Fringe Festival Award in 1987.

A stark and moving account of child deprivation in London in the 1850s, The Ragged Child follows the plight of the poor and destitute, mirrored in the tragic lives of Joe Cooper and his sister Annie. We see Lord Shaftesbury fighting for the education of the ignorant and illiterate poor in the House of Lords, and, from an inauspicious beginning, the 'Ragged Schools' are founded with Lord Shaftesbury as President, but it is too late for Joe and Annie.

The Ragged Child features book and lyrics by Jeremy James Taylor OBE and Frank Whately, music by David Nield, direction by Jeremy James Taylor OBE, music supervision by John Perason, music direction by Nicholas Chave, and choreography by Matthew Hawksworth.

Based on Melvyn Bragg's stirring novel of Cumbrian rural and industrial working life, set in the first quarter of the twentieth century, The Hired Man tells the story of one family's - Bragg's grandparents' - journey from land labourers to colliers and back to the land. The Hired Man will run 13-16 August at the St. James Theatre in London.

Featuring a cast of over 30, The Hired Man is set against the background of working class ritual - whippet racing, hiring fairs, hunting, drinking bouts and union meetings. The musical brings alive the cavalcade of British history which swept us into a new century and a war to end all wars.

Howard Goodall's superb score is strong in the British choral tradition - a marvellous succession of chorales, operatic duets and vigorous foot-stomping rhythms.

The Hired Man features book by Melvyn Bragg, music and lyrics by Howard Goodall, direction by Nikolai Foster, music direction by Sarah Travis, choreography by Nick Winston, design by Matthew Wright, lighting design by Ben Cracknell, and sound design by Tom Marshall

National Youth Music Theatre's summer season culminates with Brass, a specially commissioned new musical from Benjamin Till to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War.

Brass is based on the real-life Leeds Pals, a battalion of friends who enlisted to fight in the Great War and suffered unimaginable losses on the first day of the infamous Battle of the Somme.

The musical also tells the story of the Pals' sweethearts and sisters, all of whom work in a large munitions factory called Barnbow, in Crossgates, Leeds. The Barnbow Lassies were strong-willed and extremely brave women renowned for their hell-raising behaviour. Working with TNT and packing shells caused their skin to turn bright yellow to the extent that they became known as the canaries.

The Pals were all members of a brass band which was disbanded when the men left for France. In their absence, their women folk reformed the band, and learn to play the Pals' instruments so that could welcome their menfolk when they returned triumphantly from the front.

Brass will be premièred at the City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds 20-23 August on the very stage where many of the real life Leeds Pals signed up.

Brass features book, music and lyrics by Benjamin Till, direction by Sara Kestelman, musical direction by Benjamin Holder, choreography by Matt Flint, design by Erik Rehl, lighting design by David Plater, and sound design by Andy Graham.

The Ragged Child will run Wednesday 23 July at 7.00pm, Thursday 24 July at 12.30pm, Saturday 26th July at 10.30am and Sunday 27th July at 7.30pm. Tickets are £5.00 to £15.00 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 08444 821 556 or visting www.rosetheatrekingston.org.

The Hired Man will run Wednesday - Saturday at 7.30pm and Friday and Saturday at 2.30pm. Tickets are £18, £20, and £25. Premium Seats are £30. Concessions are available. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 0844 864 2140 or by visiting www.stjamestheatre.co.uk.

Brass will run Wednesday - Saturday at 7.30pm and Friday and Saturday at 2.30pm. Tickets are £10.00 - £20.00, with boxes available (to seat 2) for £46. They can be purcahsed by calling the box office at 0113 243 0808 or by visiting www.cityvarieties.co.uk.

Established in 1976 by Jeremy James Taylor, OBE, NYMT's productions have been seen throughout the UK and abroad. From its first show, The Ballad of Salomon Pavey, at the Edinburgh Fringe (subsequently part of Her Majesty's Silver Jubilee celebrations in London) the company's work has toured to Japan, Norway, Greece, Taiwan, Canada, Hong Kong and America, winning numerous accolades and awards.

The company featured prominently at the Edinburgh Festival in the mid 1980s, premièring Richard Stilgoe's Bodywork, highlighting NYMT's commitment to developing new work. This has continued to this day with premières of The Kissing Dance and The Dreaming by Charles Hart and Howard Goodall, Orvin by Alan Ayckbourn and Creation by Richard Taylor. Following a Royal Gala performance, HRH The Earl of Wessex became President of NYMT in 1988 and, in 1989, the BBC broadcast the company's The Ragged Child. With Andrew Lloyd Webber's support NYMT continued to thrive, accepting invitations to perform in Hong Kong, Toronto and New York, and presenting a hugely successful 11 week West End run of Bugsy Malone at the Queen's Theatre.

In 2009 the NYMT were the first to produce a musical at Hull Truck's brand new theatre with Melvyn Bragg's and Howard Goodall's The Hired Man, which later transferred to the Vanbrugh Theatre, RADA. The company also collaborated with Cactus Productions on a new musical, Totally Over You, by Mark Ravenhill and Craig Christie, culminating in a performance at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue. In 2010 Jeremy James Taylor was awarded an OBE in recognition of his many years' service to young people and thetheatre. Then, to mark Sondheim's 80th birthday, NYMT took his thriller, Sweeney Todd, out of the theatre and into a converted Victorian warehouse in London's East End. That same year, Jude Law and Tom Chambers agreed to become patrons of NYMT, subsequently to be joined by Amy Nuttall and Sheridan Smith, as ambassadors for the company.

In May 2011 NYMT were proud to accept the invitation to perform at Buckingham Palace for a reception given by HM The Queen to celebrate Young People in the Performing Arts and, that summer, NYMT brought Sweeney Todd back to life for the International Youth Arts Festival at The Rose, Kingston. 2012 saw an exciting collaboration with the American musical theatre composer, lyricist and playwright, Jason Robert Brown, culminating in the West End première of 13 The Musical at The Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, and the release of the NYMT's definitive cast recording on both sides of the Atlantic.

Last year's productions included the Russell Labey/Richard Taylor adaptation of Whistle Down The Wind for the International Youth Arts Festival at The Rose, Kingston and the première of a new NYMT commission, The Other School, by Dougal Irvine and Dominic Marsh, at the St James Theatre in London. The season ended with an epic, site specific production of West Side Story at Victoria Warehouse, Manchester, directed by Nikolai Foster with choreography by Drew McOnie and musical direction by Tom Deering.

NYMT represents the very best in work with young people through musical theatre and, for over 35 years, has enabled thousands of youngsters across the UK to develop both their creative and personal potential, leading Andrew Lloyd Webber to dub it "the finest youth music theatre in the world".

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