Last weekend I had the absolute joy of returning to where it all began. The alarmingly lanky, awkward yet determined young Andrew first got the taste for this beautiful business at the Strode Theatre in Street many decades ago. A wonderful hidden gem of a venue run by a brilliant women, Liz Leyshon.
Liz shares my passion, humour and also comes from the ‘Let’s put on a show right here’ school of thought that I have always subscribed to. Earlier this year she came up with the idea of producing a fundraiser telling the story of my journey to London. I, of course, didn’t think twice. In fact, I gave it even less thought than the time I went to John Lewis to buy a rucksack and came out with a fitted bathroom… but that is another story!
Liz is a beautiful free spirit and, although the evening was structured, it was darlingly unscripted and we both just chatted, giggled and reminisced. The audience seemed to revel in our madcap discussions!My only request for the night was that it wasn’t just an ego fest as so many of those evenings teeter on the edge of. I mentioned to Liz how it should celebrate the future, the next generation of performer to make it from rural Somerset to hedonistic London.
I wasn’t prepared for just how moving it would be to see students from the South West School Of Dance perform numbers from shows I had both choreographed and danced in. Their passion, dedication and glorious technique touched my heart. So often young people come off badly from the press, here you saw just what hours of hard work and drive can produce. To quote A Chorus Line they all put themselves ‘on the line’, bared their soul as I have always done and danced up a frenzy. We ended with ‘One’ from that same show in which I plucked up the courage to join them all for the final chorus. I haven’t danced onstage for over ten years but adored feeling the adrenaline race around my body again and the sheer thrill and lift an audience gives you. It was both joyous and unnerving at the same time. It most certainly was a night to remember.
Another song from that mighty show is of course ‘What I Did For Love’. I can think of no better way to sum up why I started and who I continue in this business… Love.