A NEWCASTLETON singer who enjoyed a 20-year career in West End musicals is bringing the first London production he ever starred in to the Borders through his new project.
Gary Adams has launched charity Music Theatre Scotland, which aims to develop the genre among talented teenagers in the Borders, and eventually across the country.
Originally from Galashiels, Gary is inspired by his view that there is a lack of opportunities in Scotland, highlighted by his own tale of having to move to London to kickstart his career.
He will begin his initiative with a schools edition of Les Miserables, the second longest running West End show, with which he made his singing debut in 1991.
Gary said: “I was originally a classical pianist but during rehearsals the casting director heard me singing. I filled in for someone else and was then asked to audition and got a lead role as Jean Valjean.
“I suppose I looked a bit different. Everyone at the time in the auditions was trying to look like Michael Ball, whereas I had long hair and was big, so looked a bit different and suited the character.
“That is what theatre is about, real people and real characters.”
Gary’s other credits include the Phantom of the Opera and Quaismodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which he performed in full costume in Leicester Square in front of bewildered tourists for a publicity stunt.
Describing life as a theatre singer travelling across the world, Gary said: “Tours would last anything from six months to, in the case of Evita, 18 months.
“You would be living from a suitcase during that time.
“You didn’t do it for the money – you don’t make that much from musical theatre. You did it for the love of it. It is a great industry and great career.”
On his return to the Borders with his family, Gary set up the charity and soon pulled on board experienced theatre director Mike Lyons.
Mike said: “I moved to Hermitage and by chance Gary and the Music Theatre Scotland project was featured in the Newcastleton newsletter, the Copshaw Clatter, so I got in touch.”
Mike shared Gary’s opinion that there need to be more openings for performers to follow their career in Scotland, rather than being forced to venture far south.
“We are ambitious in that we want children from across the Borders to take part, and that is why we chose Melrose to base the project as it is a very central location,” added Mike.
“We want children to come from schools across the region. This is about drawing the talent of the Borders together.”
Gary told us: “Currently kids have got to go to London to work and train, as shown by the very low number of professional singers in Scotland.
“We need to think about creating opportunities for these young people and that is what this project is about.
“This will give the kids a chance to learn about the whole industry and I have lined up a number of people who are working on West End shows to come up and give advice on everything from production to directing to back stage or costumes and set designs.
“This is about giving people a chance in Scotland, rather than having to go 350 miles south.”
Les Miserables is expected to be performed next year, with a Scottish tour also planned.
A meeting of potential singers and actors, who must be 19 or under and preferably over 14, as well as parents, is being held in the Corn Exchange, Melrose, on Sunday, May 20, at 2pm.
Further details of workshops and a summer school, as well as an application form, can be found at www.musictheatrescotland.org
Gary will perform a selection of West End songs in a cabaret evening at Hermitage Hall in Newcastleton on Saturday, May 19 at 7.30pm.