A YOUNG thespian from Harrogate is currently impressing critics and crowds alike with his performance in the starring role of a new musical drama at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Eleven-year-old Jake Abbott of St John Fisher Catholic High School, is appearing as Leo Colston in a new production of the Go-Between, a musical adaption of LP Hartley’s novel, famously adapted to film in the 1970s by playwright Harold Pinter.
Jake, who appeared as Micheal Darling in a Christmas musical production of Peter Pan at the same theatre, got the part after his mum saw a notice for open auditions and convinced Jake to go for the part.
Jake said: “She’d read the book in her book club and got all excited knowing how big both the boys parts were, either Marcus or Leo, so I was keen to go.
“I had already done shows at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and thought it would be nice to be there and do auditions, get through each stage and hopefully get a part.”
The play, narrated by Leo’s older self, remembers a summer he spent with his schoolfriend Marcus and his family at Brandham Hall, their Norfolk country estate, and how he accidentally became a go-between for Marian, the daughter of the host family, and Ted, a farmer with whom she is conducting an elicit affair.
Peppered with thematic devices that build tension as the secret love affair between the two, and Leo’s part in it escalates, the play rests heavily on the shoulders of the young lead and Jake Abbott carries his role with a perfomance belying his age.
Talking to the Advertiser, Jake reflected that the play was a great opportunity, saying: “It’s a really good show. It’s great for young actors like me, I think it would be good for there to be more shows like this for children to play in.
“I think the story line is really good and the actors I’m working with are immense, and professional.”
The production, a musical interpretation of the story, is a collaboration between composer Richard Taylor and writer David Wood and offers another opportunity for the young Harrogate actor to shine during the moments when the cast sing, particularly in his solo at the culmination of the cricket match, undoubtedly a highlight of both the play and Jake’s performance.
Jake said: “The music is really complicated, but really good, all the harmonies are perfect. The Director (Roger Haines) and Music Director (Jonathan Gill) have done many things before and so it’s a really good production to work on.”
Tickets for the play, which is on at The Courtyard Theatre at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until October 1, are still available and can be purchased from http://www.wyp.org.uk.