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Young performers join West End stars

By This is NorthDevon  |  Posted: July 09, 2009

IN HARMONY: Young harmony sensation, Panache

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Young Stars of The Future A Night of Song and Dance Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple Saturday July 25

A FORMER leading figure in the music industry is giving talented North Devon youngsters the chance to shine on the local stage, writes Andrea Foster.

Nigel Brooks, who enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a composer, singer and conductor before retiring to North Devon, is staging a charity show.

A Night of Song and Dance will showcase the talents of local performers alongside two stars from West End shows.

Louise Dearman, who played the leading role in Evita, and Hairspray star Michael Vinsen — both of whom he taught — are also taking part.

The cost of hiring the hall has been met by grant funding supplied by Barnstaple county councillors Brian Greenslade and Chris Haywood, so all the proceeds can go to Welland House for children with special needs.

Cllr Haywood said: "We have some incredible entertainment on offer that night. It will be a show of shows."

Mr Brooks, who was born in Barnstaple and grew up in Ilfracombe, retired to his roots after a lifetime in music.

He is now passing on the knowledge and experience he gained to young people in North Devon.

As well as teaching he has formed a girls' group called Panache, whose ages range from 14 to 19, and the Nigel Brooks' Junior Singers who are aged eight to 13.

He explained: "I wanted to do something for the youngsters. Sometimes they get a bit of a raw deal. They need to know the profession properly, what they will come up against and what standard they need to be to get through an audition.

"I have had a very full musical life — in the theatre, on TV and radio and recording. I have done it all so I am just passing on that sort of knowledge."

As a composer, he has written three ballets, all performed at Sadler's Wells, and an opera. He also conducted The Nigel Brooks' Singers whose record sales earned him three gold and two silver awards. He conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra for a short time and was orchestra arranger for the BBC.

Until recently he was head of music and singing at the well respected Laine Theatre Arts school for performing arts.

Tickets: £10. Box office: 01271 324242.

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    Ted Willhoft, Epsom, Surrey  |  July 17 2009, 12:51PM

    I'm trying to track down Nigel Brooks' e-mail or phone no. I am an old acquantance of his stemming from when he conducted the Epsom Male Voice Choir and I would like to chat with him about the possibility of the EMVC performing at Barnstaple or at some other south west venue. I would be most grateful if you would inform Nigel of my interest to contact him so that I am able to advise our Committee to make contact with him to discuss the possibility of setting up a concert at Barnstaple.