A Leeds songwriter will have his chance to ‘Shine’ as he stars as part of the main cast in a touring musical based on the story of pop legends Take That.
Curtis T Johns has been a songwriter for the last eight years, writing for artists such as Matt Cardle and Ray Quinn alongside his day job of running a rugby club in Alwoodley.
But now he is about to take centre stage.
Former David Young Academy pupil Curtis, along with AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon, won BBC’s Let it Shine reality show to find five singers to play Take That in The Band, a new musical about what it’s like to grow up with a boyband.
The show has been written by Olivier award winner Tim Firth and produced by David Pugh, Dafydd Rogers and Take That’s Gary Barlow. Fellow Take That members Howard Donald, Mark Owen and ex-member Robbie Williams have also been involved in the production.
The tour starts at the Opera House in Manchester in September and makes its way around the UK including a stop in Leeds next year with a run at the Grand Theatre from Tuesday, March 20 to Saturday, March 31.
We caught up with Curtis during his busy rehearsing schedule to get some back stage gossip and find out what he loves about Leeds.
1. What has been the reaction from the people of Leeds since Let It Shine ended?
It’s been great, I get noticed every now and again and the support online from Leeds and Yorkshire folk has been lovely.
2. You will be spending a lot of time on the road rehearsing and then touring, what do you, or will you, miss the most about your home city?
My dog Molly and family, and just home turf in general.
3. What has been your favourite moment or highlight of the whole experience so far?
Filming a TV advert with the Take That boys and Robbie.
4. Are you looking forward to bringing the show to Leeds Grand and what do you think the reaction will be?
I’m super excited - I think people don’t know what to expect. They are going to be pleasantly surprised, I think.
5. Where is your favourite place in Leeds to see a show or production?
I love music venues primarily like the Wardrobe or Brudenell Social Club. But theatre wise it’s the Leeds Grand.
6. What is your idea of a perfect day out in the city?
Trip into our shopping centres, new clothes and treats. But also maybe a more peaceful trip like walking Molly through Golden Acre Park.
7. What is your favourite bar to head to on a night out?
Fibre is a great night out, amazing penthouse too. Although I also love the smaller, quirkier pubs hidden down the alleys.
8. What is your top tipple or cocktail when you go to the bar?
Haha I love real ales. But on fun nights I opt for Disaronno and cranberry juice.
9. Do you have a favourite restaurant that you visit in Leeds?
Ooooh. The Olive Tree in Headingley and Lavanta.
10. If you were to recommend to a stranger anywhere to visit in Leeds where would that be and why?
Definitely our city centre - it’s so vibrant at the minute, lots of new developments and great places to shop.
11. Have you met the Take That boys and what are they like?
Many times now. They are great, like our older, wiser brothers.
12. What is the best piece of advice they have given you as you embark on a career in the limelight?
To enjoy where we are, and not to get caught up in the hype of fame.
13. Of course it will have been many hours of rehearsing, but have there been any times where you and the other cast members have had chance to let your hair down?
We have group outings, yes. Nandos trips or a quick drink but we are a very close cast. I love them.
14. What has been the most surreal moment so far?
Probably watching Take That perform AFTER you know them in person is pretty surreal. It’s when it really hits you that your life has changed a bit.
15. What have you found most difficult or challenging about the whole experience?
Rehearsals can be fun but also hard work. There’s a lot of movement so I really have to concentrate in sessions.
16. Any comedy moments or mishaps you can share with readers?
Haha none safe enough for this paper!
17. What was your first ever job and why did you leave it?
I delivered furniture off the back of a van. And natural progression I guess, I got another job. Many different jobs.
18. If you had to have a plan B for a career what would it be and why?
Well I intend for my songwriting to continue with me on this journey. But if I was to choose something completely disconnected, I’d probably teach.
19. If money was no object where would you buy a house in Leeds and why?
Too many lovely places. Otley or Alwoodley maybe?
20. Who has been the most influential person in your journey so far?
I’d say Tim Firth actually. Only because watching him work daily is fascinating for me as a writer, he gets caught up with the ideas in his head. It’s amazing to be part of a team with Tim’s involvement.