YMT blog

Neil Rutherford - Youth Music Theatre UK

Musical Theatre Boot Camp start's next week and we have one final practitioner to introduce - Neil Rutherford - who has a hugely impressive wealth of experience across the industry


With our brand new Musical Theatre Boot Camp soon to start on Monday 13 August we have one final practitioner to introduce - Neil Rutherford who has a hugely impressive wealth of experience, read more below. There are still a few places left so BOOK NOW before it's too late! Download the  INFO SHEET.

Neil Rutherford is an international Theatre Director and Casting Director, as well as a published author and composer. He is a Bachelor of Arts from Middlesex University, having gained a BA Hons Degree in Performing Arts, specializing in directing, performance, and administration, and is also an Associate of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.


Neil has an extensive list of West End acting credits including Fiddler On The Roof (London Palladium), City of Angels, three Royal Variety Performances, Annie, Romeo and Juliet, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Miserables and more! His numerous West End, UK and international credits includes The Misanthrope staring Keira Knightley, Legally Blonde (UK and Australia), Into The Woods for the Royal Opera House, Sweeney Todd (UK and Broadway), 50th Anniversary productions of West Side Story (UK, Europe and Australia), Guys and Dolls starring Patrick Swayze (UK and Australia), The Rocky Horror Show (UK, Europe and Australia). His experience also extends to television as he was a guest lead on Eastenders (BBC), The Tailor of Gloucester (Thames), The Vampyr (BBC), presenter for several seasons of the BBC’s Singing Together, and in the films, Swept from the Sea, Wilt, and The Colour of Funny. Neil also appeared in numerous commercials, and has sung on over 15 original cast recordings.


As a director, he spent four years directing and casting at the Sydney Opera House and around Australia with major productions including South Pacific, The King and I, Orpheus in the Underworld, and Beyond Desire. He is also Artistic Director of Polar Eclipse, an English speaking theatre company in Stockholm, Sweden, where his 2017 hippy production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream broke Box Office records.


As a composer, Neil has written a large amount of original music both for the concert platform and for musical theatre, writing incidental music for over 20 productions. Amongst his pieces, his Clarinet Concerto has been performed around the world.  In 1998 he was asked to compose music for Sara Kestelman's one woman show All About Me at the Royal National Theatre and the Firebird Café in New York which was re-written for BBC Radio 4. He also co-wrote, and directed, the late night Cabaret Not Quite Bedtime which opened at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival winning 3 awards.  Beyond Desire is Neil’s third musical which had its world premiere in Sydney in 2014 nominated for most outstanding new work.

Neil is currently writing a film musical for Opera Australia and two theatre projects – Sherlock Holmes and a reworking of Schnitler’s play La Ronde. Most recently, he has cast My Fair Lady directed by Dame Julie Andrews!


Neil regularly lectures at major drama schools in audition and acting technique, holds audition master-classes throughout world, has released an auditioning DVD and has been an audition panelist and casting advisor to Channel Four, BBC, and ITV. His book Musical Theatre Auditions and Casting is published worldwide by Methuen Drama and Bloomsbury Publishing. He is also proud to head up Industry Liaison for Mountview.

There is still an opportunity to BOOK ON to the London Musical Theatre Boot Camp to train under Neil Rutherford and other creatives, but be sure to book soon as spaces are limited!

Shakespeare's themes are universal we can all identify with the emotions and the politics of his plays


Ahead of our major new production, A Winter’s Tale, Emmy, BRIT and BAFTA award winning Composer Howard Goodall talks to us about his work, adapting Shakespeare for musical stage, working with YMT and his commitment to music education.

Q. When adapting Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, one of his later and more complex plays for musical stage did you find any unique challenges?
Shakespeare's play has lots of unusual and quasi-magical aspects to it, for sure. It has many of the tricks he employs in his comedies - mistaken identity, separated families, exotic locations, rustic folk being, well, rustic, and so on, yet it also has a deadly serious heart.

Q. The production to be performed at Rose Theatre Kingston is a new interpretation of the story, without giving too much away, what is the show about and what can audiences expect?
Its two acts are separated by 16 years, and it looks at the very different ways that the mature and the young view and configure their world: because of this theme alone it feels amazingly germane to our own time. Plus, it has an absolutely stunning surprise moment in its final scene (no spoilers...) which echoes a similar event in Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, which was an inspiration for me too! Jealousy, loyalty and the redemption of love are all themes in the play that lend themselves, I think, quite readily to conversion into songs. The musical is unashamedly emotional, and though this is partly true of the play, adding music deepens and - in some ways - simplifies the impact of the original. And, since I have a long background in comedy, I looked for opportunities to add some laughs in the songs. I hope I've succeeded!

Howard Goodall

Q. What do you think it is about Shakespeare’s work that has endured for so long?
Shakespeare's themes are universal even when his language sometimes sounds antique. We can all identify with the emotions and the politics of his plays - people's behaviour doesn't alter much over the centuries even if their clothes and their circumstances change. In this play, for example, Shakespeare paints a vivid, utterly believable portrait of a paranoid, angry, despotic ruler, whose megalomania extends to all those around him including those closest to him - his wife and children. If Shakespeare were alive now, he'd describe Leon, the ruler in question, as a man with 'toxic masculinity'. How those around him have to deal with this, in Shakespeare's play and in our modern world are not very different. Passionate love between two teenagers whose parents are disapproving is another theme in the play and as far as I can see that issue is still very much alive in our world too. Above all, there is a profound humanity and compassion in the way Shakespeare plays out his characters' journeys and one reason his stories can be so moving is because we recognise, without always acting upon, the possibility of compassion in our own lives. Add music and the combination can be incredibly emotional. Which I hope is where we come in!

Q. Your music has been performed hundreds of times - do you still get a thrill from hearing it performed?
Is it uncool to say, YES? Every live performance is new, every performer's interpretation is different and fresh and stimulating, every new generation finding my pieces and re-inventing them is a thrill.

Q. If you could be remembered for one piece of music - what would it be?
I honestly think this question is impossible, like asking someone which of their children they like best! I expect what I want and what the public will decide I am remembered for will be completely different things, in any case. Amongst my musicals, it might be The Hired Man (My first West End musical in 1984), or Bend it Like Beckham (my most recent) but my own personal favourite is A Winter's Tale, the final scene of which makes me cry (in a good way) every time. Amongst my choral works, my Eternal Light: A Requiem is the most performed (just coming up to 600 live performances around the world) and my new Invictus: A Passion (I conducted its world première in Houston in March and its CD is released this month) seems to be capturing the imagination of lots of choirs and their directors: they are deeply heart-felt pieces on a larger scale, but of course millions of folk will think instantly of my Psalm 23 setting composed for The Vicar of Dibley. Frankly I will be lucky enough if anyone remembers anything of mine after I've gone!

Q. You are an energetic campaigner for music education yourself, how important are the opportunities given to young emerging performers and musicians by organisations like Youth Music Theatre UK?
There are two parallel issues here: the function of the arts as ways of discovering ourselves, of finding our place in the world, of exploring our feelings and our fears, of creating community and togetherness, of becoming genuinely creative and daring and of developing as a rounded human being. For all these extraordinary gifts, an organisation like YMT is of incalculable value to the young people who engage with it, irrespective of what they will make of their lives once they move on to their next stage.

A Winter's Tale


But the second issue is that of the arts as a dynamic industry, creating jobs, enhancing our country's 'soft' influence in the world, boosting exports and tourism, giving voice and self-respect to communities perhaps left behind: all these attributes are also important for us as a society and YMT has had conspicuous success in nurturing talent that is later a huge feather in our collective caps. One in every eight albums bought last year in the world was by a British artist; this is an amazing statistic and in quite a significant part due to one man - Ed Sheeran - who started his journey into music with YMT. How brilliant is that?

Q. Youth Music Theatre UK has produced some pretty successful performers – what are the company like to work with?
Jon Bromwich (Executive Producer at YMT) and I share an interest in promoting and developing creative work for young people. I have known cast and worked with quite a lot of YMT alumni over the years as well, for example Lauren Samuels who starred in my West End musical Bend it Like Beckham in 2015-16. It is fair to say that some of the most outstanding performers in our industry have begun their musical theatre journey with this company.

Alexander Rudd: The Movie, TV and Theatre Composer of our show, Help! Get Me Out of This Musical!


Taking place at South Hill Park Arts Centre, 10-12 August, the brand new Help! Get Me Out of This Musical is a hilariously bonkers and endearing love song to musical theatre! Littered with references (and cheeky parodies!) of our favourite West End and Broadway hits, it is an unforgettable experience for all lovers (and even haters!) of musical theatre.

And who better to ceate the music for this celebratory show other than award-winning film, TV and theatre composer, Alexander Rudd. 

Alexander has been the featured UK Composer in the International Artists Workshop for the European Union. His concert works have been performed throughout Europe, UK and the U.S.A. His theatre work includes numerous commissions in the UK and U.S  and collaborated on numerous musicals. Having been awarded the highest prize for composition at Trinity College of Music, he won a Fulbright Scholarship to study film scoring at USC. In 2009, Alexander moved to the US to study Film Scoring at the University of Southern California's Thornton School Of Music in Los Angeles.

Having worked on the music for film hits such as Unknown (Warner Bros) (starring Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger), as well as having conducted music for the sensational TV series, Lost (ABC), Alexander's musical talent and skill is highly respected.

Whilst studying in LA he was fortunate enough to meet and learn from composer and songwriter Randy Newman (Joy, Monster’s University, Toy Story) who became his mentor. Alexander’s latest collaborations include an album of new songs co-written with academy- award-winning lyricist Don Black (Diamonds Are Forever, The Man With The Golden Gun). The album entitled Stay Away From Stars was recorded with the English Session Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, featuring the vocals of Mica Paris, Mairead Carlin and Polly Gibbons and a new classical/rock album with Alex James (Blur) for Sony/ATV.

So come on down to hear Alexander's new music in Help! Get Me Out of This Musical - it's a treat you will be gutted to miss! 

Playing at South Hill Park Arts Centre, 10-12 August, get your tickets HERE!

No Man's Land - Youth Music Theatre UK

Meet the Creatives: No Man's Land

About The Show

No Man's Land, playing at the Square Chapel in Halifax from Aug 18 - 19, is part of Youth Music Theatre UK’s boundary pushing Dance Connections series that boldly combines complex vocal soundscapes and improvisation with daring contemporary movement.

This empowering musical is all about a young woman, driven by the promise of freedom and what it seems to offer, leaves everything behind. But at what cost?

This physically visceral and immersive, promenade show, features a 38-strong all-female cast. Inspired by a true story, it tackles contemporary themes such as community, belonging, migration and repression.

Director/Choreographer Rachel Birch-Lawson harnesses the experimental spirit of devising and ensemble work in creating a unique production that not only challenges the conventions of musical theatre, it breaks the mold.  While Nicola Chang’s (STOMP!) intricately woven score blends contemporary, classical and electronic music, layered with live choral qualities and rhythmic textures, to create a breathtakingly fresh soundscape.

Get your tickets HERE!

Nicola Chang: Composer & Musical Director

Nicola Chang - No Man's Land
Originally from Hong Kong, Nicola is a London-based musician who writes music and creates soundscapes for theatre and film. As a composer, Nicola mainly writes in the veins of Classical/Contemporary Classical, Jazz and Electronica. She is also a cast member of STOMP! World Tour and a freelance percussionist/pianist.

Her most recent theatre composition/sound design credits include Lord of the Flies (Greenwich Theatre), There or Here (Park Theatre), Heretic Voices (Arcola Theatre), Beauty and the Beast (King’s Head) and Thirty-Three (Leicester Square Theatre).  In December 2017, she conducted the Notting Hill Film Orchestra playing her original film score to The Perfect Dinner, accompanied by a live screening of the film.

YMT is extremely excited to have Nicola composing and musically directing No Man’s Land!

Rachel Birch-Lawson: Concept & Choreographer

Rachel Birch - Lawson
Rachel trained at London Contemporary Dance Schools and European choreographic programme Dance Beyond Borders which took place in Germany Belgium, Portugal and the UK.  She directs and choreographs movement-based work within dance, theatre, opera, and music theatre. Her work has been performed across the UK, Europe and Africa, supported by organisations including Arts Council England, Kent County Council, the British Council, South East Dance, and Gulbenkian.  She has created work for companies including Garsington Opera, Cahoots NI, and Tangled Feet, and has taught at universities and conservatoires around the world! 

We can't wait to see how Rachel's worldly dance experience translates to the YMT stage!

Khyle Eccles: Choreographer & Rehearsal Director

Khyle Eccles - No Man's Land

Khyle is an international dance professional, with a broad practice and knowledge base. Khyle holds a masters degree in dance science and is one of only a handful of strength coaches for dancers. He lectures at Trinity Laban, Arts University Bournemouth, Academy of Dramatic Arts Sagreb, One Dance UK, and previously London Contemporary Dance School and Kingston University.

He trained at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance and has toured globally with numerous performance companies on large and small scale creations. From Dance Theatre of Irelands Block Party, to STREB Extreme Action Company’s One Extraordinary Day, to Luca Silvistrini’s (in)Visible Dancing and many more!

Khyle and Rachel have worked together on numerous successful projects and we're excited to have them choreographing No Man’s Land!


Be sure to BOOK your tickets to this amazing show HERE

Cautionary Tales - Youth Music Theatre UK

Cautionary Tales: A YMT Production


Playful yet profound, Cautionary Tales is a magnificent new musical extravaganza for all the family.

A classroom of quirky characters, who together, as a team of comic rebels, decide it is time to rewrite the rule book and create a new set of cautionary tales!  Inspired by the delightfully playful and poetic, miniature stories of Hilaire Belloc. Join us for a riotous, irresistible adventure of unlikely morals, brilliant antics and charming eccentricities.

Featuring enchanting music by award-winning composer Rebecca Applin this production brings the magic and wonder of childhood imagination and creativity to life.

Welcome to Gloamsville

A simply awful town, run by simply awful adults.  Gloamsville is grey; the Butchers shop is grey, the allotments are full of grey, dry dusty soil, the police station is grey, the school is grey, and The Lane where all of the inhabitants of Gloamsville live is grey.  The Club might not be grey, but we wouldn’t know that because we’re not allowed in there, only the awful adults are allowed in there.  And as for The Room of Mysterious Things…who knows.  No-one’s ever been in there except the Keeper of the Room of Mysterious Things.  And that’s the way it has always been, and always will be. 

Meet the children of Gloamsville

All of the children have super powers….

  • The Trockels can tie anything into knots and then untie it again! They could make a whole BUILDING out of knotted things if they were allowed to.
  • The Fishbucket siblings can make their hair become magnetic and stand on end.
  • The Worselman children can calculate and program anything at lightning speed.
  • The Bittingworths could lift an elephant each if there happened to be an elephant that needed lifting.
  • The Hammingtons know the answer to any question that has ever been asked!

All of these children were born with amazing talents, but the adults are sure to tell them that they can never, NEVER use these gifts because otherwise ‘disastrous things’ happen. But what would happen if all of the adults in the town were to vanish?  Would the children’s special abilities turn the town upside down, or create color, life and zest?  You’ll have to see for yourself this 11 – 12 August at the Barbican Theatre!