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David King: Meet Moortown's own international theatre producer

Moortown Today meets local lad turned millionaire David King.

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David King, 60, was born and bred in Moortown and Alwoodley but is now an international producer of shows which regularly sell out around the globe.

His big break was the Irish dance smash Spirit of the Dance and his latest hit, Le Grand Cirque.

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He says:

"My childhood was simply amazing. My parents, Trudie and Stanley, were both performers. They met when my father worked as a music hall comedian and my mother was a dancer. We were brought up on music. Virtually every weekend we'd basically do a show in our house. I'd be on the piano, someone else would get out a ukulele, someone else a clarinet. There was never really any doubt I'd one day end up working in the performing arts, but it took me quite a protracted route to get there.

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"I left Roundhay School when I was 15. it was a good school and I was bright but I don't think I was ever very academic. So I set up my own stall on Leeds Market selling ladies clothing or anything I could get my hands on and from there I went into big business retailing of all kinds. I had a wife and kids and so had to make a living and that was my day job. But gradually I started representing more and more artists on the side but it wasn't until 1996 with Spirit of the Dance that I hit the big time really. At one stage it was being performed in cities all over the planet and I was officially the biggest employer of dancers in Europe.

"The best piece of advice I ever received was from years ago and it was: don't take a chance you don't need to take. But I completely ignored it – I basically sold or mortgaged everything I had to back Spirit of the Dance since most people I approached weren't interested. The whole Riverdance thing with Michael Flatley had happened and many people felt there wasn't any scope for anything else like Spirit of the Dance, many people wouldn't even consider it if I wasn't someone like Andrew Lloyd Webber, many of them were like: David who? It's still good advice though, I was just more determined than most people to make sure the risk paid off.

"My philosophy on life is this: go out there, make a difference and make things happen, which is what I did and what I've always done. Now my shows have been performed around the world – the US, Europe, Australia, the Far East. When Le Grand Cirque went to the Sydney Opera House it broke all box office records.

The thing I'm most proud of though has to be my five wonderful daughters aged 13 to 30. I think my greatest contribution is to have given five such wonderful people to the world.

"The best thing about Leeds has to be the grounding it gave me – a no nonsense upbringing which stood me in good stead in later life because when things needed doing I just did them, no messing about. That's what all Yorkshire people do after all.

"That's the thing that most people would be surprised to learn about me – I'm actually quite a humble man underneath and a man of simple pleasures. Obviously I travel the world and have a wonderful lifestyle now but what matters to me are basic pleasures and spending time with my family. Amid all the excitement of my life I genuinely love those moments of calmness and serenity. I live in places like Monaco and London now but come to Leeds virtually every month – the city's now better than ever.

"The one thing I couldn't live without? My passport! I couldn't do my job without it.

"I've met lots of famous people in my life – Liza Minnelli, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan – all people who I've promoted, but if I could meet anyone in the world it would have to be Frank Sinatra or Sammy Davis Junior – or ideally the whole Rat Pack! They're all such unquestionable musical legends. I wouldn't mind saying 'hi' to Marilyn Monroe either.

"The last time I cried was watching the musical version of Priscilla Queen of the Desert bizarrely. It's this huge camp extravaganza from Australia, but it's done brilliantly. Shows always make me cry – I'm a sucker for the big finale. At the end of any show you can always look across at me and I'll have a tear in my eye. Believe me, I know how to be emotional.

"I relax with music basically. Listening to it and playing it. I have such broad tastes in music from classical to rock and jazz. It shows in lots of the productions I do. With Le Grand Cirque it's all classical tunes given a rocky edge to them. Fantastic."

 
 
 

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