Actors vie for chance to star in Gary Barlow’s musical

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Dozens of budding actors queued up in the rain in Leeds today in the hope of bagging a part in a musical co-written by Take That star Gary Barlow.

Young men ranging from around 15 to 22 were auditioning at Leeds Grand Theatre for a role in The Girls, the new musical inspired by the Women’s Institute’s Calendar Girls – the Yorkshire women who famously posed semi-nude for a charity calendar.

Ethan Marescaux reads the script alongside Ben Hunter. Picture: James Hardisty.

Ethan Marescaux reads the script alongside Ben Hunter. Picture: James Hardisty.

Around 80 were expected to audition this afternoon in front of multi award-winning West End and Broadway producer David Pugh and the eager thespians began lining up more than 90 minutes before the auditions were due to start.

Speaking to the YEP the vivacious Pugh, whose shows include Equus starring Daniel Radcliffe, said it was “terrific” to see so much Northern talent on show and added: “If they are prepared to come and wait in this rain and queue for the audition then I’m going to see them.”

Barlow, who has written the musical with Tim Firth, has revealed he is searching for a “proper Northerner” to play the part of the 17-year-old Tommo, the son of Miss September in the musical, which will have its world premier in Leeds in November.

Tommo is described as “a great lad, a sportsman, good-looking, cocky and girl mad but unfortunately still a virgin”.

David Pugh, producer of The Girls, handing out Gary Barlow masks to the auditionees.

David Pugh, producer of The Girls, handing out Gary Barlow masks to the auditionees.

Ethan Marescaux, 16, was first to arrive outside the Leeds theatre today in the hope of securing his big break.

The Rastrick High School pupil, who has been acting since he was just four, said: “As soon as news about the part came out my friend texted me and said, ‘it’s basically you’.

He added: “I’m not bothered if they say no because I’m here and I’ve tried. I could have sat at home and not gone for it. But if I go for it, there’s a chance they will say yes.”

Fifteen-year-old Jack Armstrong, who lives near York and has loved performing since he was six, said: “It would mean a lot to get this part, to be honest.

“I got the script on Wednesday and I’ve been practising every night since then – trying to fit a bit of revision in as well.”

National treasure Barlow wasn’t in Leeds for the auditions but it was clear his involvement had already given the project a dazzling sprinkling of stardust.

Jack’s father Gary said: “To be associated with something with Gary Barlow would be fantastic for him.”

Those successful today will be recalled to further auditions taking place at The Lowry in Salford tomorrow.

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