KEITH Jack knows what it’s like to be young, talented and dreaming of stardom while your every move is being examined by a man who has been there and done it all.
Under the watchful eye of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Keith lost out by the narrowest of margins as the theatre virtuoso cast Lee Mead as his new leading man in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat after a public vote on BBC contest Any Dream Will Do.
But that hasn’t held Keith back. Now, playing the role of mentor himself, his successful summer theatre school – which sees children sign up for two weeks of classes before performing at Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh – is now in its third year.
He’s also enjoying a flourishing stage career, while his keen business brain has another venture in thepipeline. The 24-year-old has hatched a plan to bring the great and the good of American theatre across the pond to the Capital. Beyond Broadway, he says, would be a regular entertainment extravaganza pairing star names on stage with young Scottish talent.
“It’s already had some heavyweight backing. A couple of months ago, me and Murray Grant, who runs the [theatre academy] MGA, had this idea to put on a night of entertainment in Edinburgh, where we would bring performers from the West End of London up and get them to do a show with local Scottish talent,” he says. “The idea has grown from there and we’ve had positive responses from people like Lee Mead, Tony Roper, Zoe Tyler from Loose Women and John Owen Jones.”
He added: “It would be great to get John Barrowman involved – I’m going to beg him. Steph Fearon and Jenny Douglas from Over the Rainbow have already said they’d love to come up.”
The fruits of this year’s theatre workshop – Gie It Laldy – will be unveiled next Saturday night when the talented children, who have paid between £150 and £225 for the experience, take to the stage.
Dalkeith-born Keith says the project, pictured above, which he runs with ex-girlfriend Alana Ferguson, is designed “to pass on what I’ve been taught by people like John Barrowman and Andrew Lloyd Webber”.
“There’s something so special in seeing that spark of talent in a group of kids and being able to nurture it. I’ll be watching them singing and dancing their hearts out on stage and thinking ‘I made that happen’. It’s a brilliant feeling.
“We keep the kids so busy and energised that by the time they get home they just want to go to sleep. We definitely provide a service – and we’re cheaper than a babysitter.”
Keith won’t be letting the grass grow under him during the rest of the year. He goes on tour in the title role with Joseph in September and has an appearance in An Evening of Movies and Musicals at Christmas at the Usher Hall lined up for November. There are also plans for a new album, and before then he has a beard to grow for a German magazine which has asked him to “rough it up a bit” for a photoshoot.
“Alana and the kids keep calling me ‘Jesus’, he says. “Which they find very amusing.”