June 22, 2008

Keith Turns Judge for Fringe Musical

By Linda Summerhayes

IT is a hazard suffered by the rich and famous - to be followed by adoring fans clamouring for an autograph and a photographic memento of their brush with the venerable.

But while many celebs shun the attention, crying our for their privacy and their right to walk the streets in peace, it's a phenomenon that musical star Keith Jack can't get enough of.

"It's nice to be on your own sometimes, but well . . . I have to say, I don't really mind," he laughs. "I'll sign anything because you never know when it will stop, and if it does then I can always look back and remember the days when I used to get stopped in town."

It's now a year since the Dalkeith boy wowed judges in the BBC show Any Dream Will Do, which attracted an enthusiastic audience of ten million viewers.

And ultimately, while Keith didn't win the lead role in the London West End production of Joseph, it was a close-run thing.

Indeed, he impressed judges so much the then-teenager landed the role of the narrator in the touring production of the hit musical, performing sell-out shows across the country.

Today, however, the boot will be very much on the other foot as the 20-year-old takes his seat among a judging panel searching for 12 talented performers to make up the ensemble in a new musical to be staged during the Fringe festival.

The musical, called Only The Brave, was inspired when composer Matthew Brind joined his grandfather, a Second World War veteran, on an emotional journey to the cemeteries of northern France.

Matthew was an assistant musical director on Any Dream Will Do, so when it came to casting Only The Brave, fresh-faced Keith was the obvious choice for the role of 16-year-old Charlie.

Keith describes his character as "young and innocent and fragile". He needs the help of an older friend Wally to stand up for him in life.

Only The Brave will see Keith come face to face with Niamh Perry, a finalist in I'd Do Anything, the television talent contest to find a performer to play Nancy in the West End revival of Oliver.

"It is epic romance," explains Keith, who hopes audiences will be moved by their performance. "There are a few tear-jerkers in there too, so I think the audience could well find themselves in tears."

Keen to make the most of every moment of his success, Keith is also putting the finishing touches to his debut album, which he recorded with Scottish songwriter and producer John McLaughlin.

It's all certainly a long way from the days when Keith was paying his way through an HNC course in musical theatre at Telford College with a part-time job at Tesco in Dalkeith.

However, he still maintains close ties with his friends and family, and is even looking forward to seeing some of his former colleagues on the Telford performing arts course impressing the judges at today's auditions.

"It's going to be quite weird for me to be on the judging panel and see how it looks from the other side," he admits. "Edinburgh's got great talent and I would just advise people to come and be confident about what they are doing."

After beating thousands of hopefuls in the Any Dream Will Do competition, Keith can count himself as an authority on how to stand out from the crowd.

"The judges are not just looking for a finished performer straight away. They are looking for someone they can teach the music to," he says. "They also need someone who can take direction, so listen to what people are saying to you - that's the best advice I can give."

The open auditions for Only the Brave take place today at the George Square Theatre in Edinburgh at 2pm. Candidates must be aged between 16 and 30 and be available for rehearsals, which begin on July 17.

(c) 2008 Evening News; Edinburgh (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.