From Seacroft to centre stage - Leeds’ Curtis T Johns on life as a star of the Take That musical

Rachelle Diedericks as Debbie with Five To Five as The Band in the Take That musical The Band. PIC: PA
Rachelle Diedericks as Debbie with Five To Five as The Band in the Take That musical The Band. PIC: PA
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It might seem a little presumptuous of Curtis T Johns to have written his autobiography at the age 23.

However, having gone from growing up on Leeds’ Seacroft estate to centre stage in The Band, the new musical inspired by Take That, the singer has plenty to say.

From the left, AJ Bentley, Curtis T Johns, Sario Solomon, Nick Carsberg and Yazdan Qafouri in the Take That musical The Band. PIC: PA

From the left, AJ Bentley, Curtis T Johns, Sario Solomon, Nick Carsberg and Yazdan Qafouri in the Take That musical The Band. PIC: PA

“It’s been quite a journey,” he says.

“Not many teenagers who grew up on that estate end up here, but I always thought it was possible. I never allowed myself to doubt for one second that my dreams weren’t possible.

“That’s why I wrote the book. It’s called The Art of Everything and if we are lucky enough to take The Band to the West End that’s when I would like to publish it.”

Curtis, who has been writing songs since as long as he can remember, ended up in the spotlight via the BBC talent show Let It Shine. Hosted by Graham Norton and with Take That’s Gary Barlow one of its judges, its aim was to find five talented singers and dancers who could double as a young Take That.

From left, Sario Solomon, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and AJ Bentley in the Take That musical The Band. PIC: PA

From left, Sario Solomon, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and AJ Bentley in the Take That musical The Band. PIC: PA

“It’s no secret. I am a bit of a Gary fanboy,” says Curtis, who along with fellow Five to Five members AJ Bentley, Sario Solomon, Nick Carsberg and Yazdan Qafouri is determined to make the most of his moment in the sun.

“He is everything I admire in a songwriter. We have spent quite a bit of time together over the last few months, but every time he walks in the room I still feel a bit awestruck. I think we all feel a little bit that way and we do keep on pinching ourselves. However, the fact that we are not experiencing this madness alone is great.”

The Band has already won rave reviews and it is the second time Barlow has worked with writer Tim Firth. The pair’s first collaboration resulted in the hit show The Girls, inspired by the members of the Yorkshire WI who famously stripped off for charity, and The Band looks set to be similarly successful.

Having just opened in Manchester, it will head to Bradford in October, Leeds next spring and the team behind the show have announced that the year long UK tour will be extended by a further 12 months.

190117  Curtis T John who  appeared on the BBC show Let It Shine  singing at  Barwick C of E Primary  Leeds, School ,   morning assembly.

190117 Curtis T John who appeared on the BBC show Let It Shine singing at Barwick C of E Primary Leeds, School , morning assembly.

“Putting five unknown singers into a big show like this was a risk. We all knew that, but I think people will be really surprised by what we have done,” says Curtis, who as a sideline to performing also runs Moortown Rugby Union Football Club.

“Rugby definitely keeps me grounded and the side is doing well without me there. Really well in fact.”

When tickets for The Band, which features Take That hits from A Million Love Songs to Greatest Day, first went on sale earlier this year it became the fastest UK tour in history and as word spreads it’s likely to break a few more theatrical records.

“I think this show will really work for people who don’t necessarily like traditional musicals,” says Curtis.

“I want people to leave thinking how important music and music culture is. It will make people think about the soundtrack we all have to our lives.”

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