Edinburgh dancer Rory Macleod's dream comes true as he makes professional debut in Matthew Bourne's ground-breaking Nutcracker!
A trip to the Festival Theatre with his gran to see Matthew Bourne's Cinderella when he was just 16 triggered Rory MacLeod's dream of performing with the world renowned New Adventures dance company. Four years on, the Boroughmuir High FP is making his professional debut, doing just that.
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The 20-year-old who was born and brought up in Bruntsfield is currently on tour with Matthew Bourne's iconic Nutcracker!, which brings him home to Scotland later this month, and he can not wait.
“Just before I went to college, I saw my first Matthew Bourne show,” he recalls. “It was Cinderella at the Festival Theatre. I went with my gran and afterwards I said to her, ‘That is what I want to do.’
“From seeing that show, my heart was set on being in Matthew Bourne's New Adventures company, all through college I would say to everyone, ‘My dream job is Matthew Bourne’. That's what I wanted to do.”
Although it was originally musical theatre that captured Rory's imagination - as a teenager he even appeared on the stage of the Playhouse in the venue's Stage Experience production of Oliver! - he quickly realised that his real passion was for dance and the challenges presented by the choreography.
Rory, who also attended Bruntsfield Primary, remembers, “I started musical theatre classes when I was about seven but when I was 14 I started taking classes at the Edinburgh Dance Academy. As I got older, I found the dancing I was doing got harder and, as it got harder, I developed more and more of a love and passion for it.
“In the end I left school mid-way through my fifth year because, as I'd started dancing quite late and knew that was all I wanted to do, I needed to focus all my attention on dance. I couldn't do that if I was having to concentrate on highers as well.”
Speaking to his teachers he was advised to "go for it" and, with the support of taxi driver dad, Ewen, and HR advisor mum, Nicky, began auditioning for dance colleges, getting into Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom.
“My parents were very supportive of me from the get go and encouraged me. They wanted the best for me but I think they knew I would do it anyway because I'm quite driven,” he says, before explaining it was while still at college that his dream came true.
Taking up the story, he reveals, “Last summer I was auditioning for tons of West End shows, getting through to the last round but not getting the job. Then, one of my teachers at college sent me details of a mock audition day at New Adventures. I went along, walked into the room and there was Matthew Bourne on the panel. I thought, ‘Oh, my god, here we go.’
“We learned some choreography from his shows - it was a great day. About 30 minutes after I left, I got offered the job for Nutcracker! I was not expecting that at all.”
Rory is currently making his professional debut in the 30th Anniversary national tour of Bourne's newly designed and re-imagined Nutcracker!, which comes to Glasgow King's from February 22-26, when audiences will see Rory dancing the role of the Pink Gobstopper.
Featuring a cast of well-loved New Adventures favourites along with stars of the future, including Rory, as the citizens of Sweetieland. With the choreographer’s trademark wit, pathos and magical fantasy, the piece follows Clara’s bittersweet journey from a darkly comic Christmas Eve at Dr Dross’ Orphanage, through a shimmering, ice-skating winter wonderland to the scrumptious candy kingdom of Sweetieland, influenced by the lavish Hollywood musicals of the 1930s.
“My mum, dad and gran all came to London to see it, they couldn't wait for it to come to Scotland,” says Rory.
“My mum and dad seeing it was great for me, they put a lot of time into my career, taking me to competitions, to every single dance lesson, and paying for them all. I think seeing me in Nutcracker! reassured them it was all worth it.
“As for having my gran there, watching it, that was a whole different story; it was like a full circle moment from when we went to see Cinderella together. Very special.”
In the show, Rory also covers the roles of an Allsort and one of the titular Nutcrackers as well as dancing his own part, it makes for a busy schedule.
“A normal working day with New Adventure sees me rock up to the venue about 11am to do a half hour warm up by myself. Then we all do a company class, which may be a ballet class or a contemporary dance class. Then we have a notes and rehearsals session, because we swap casts quite a lot we want it to look as clean as it can be. Then we have a dinner break, do the show, which is very intense, go home, get up the next morning and do it all again.”
He adds with a laugh, 'This is my first professional job and it's my dream job, so I can retire now.”
Not that he will be retiring anytime soon, the good news for Rory is that after Nutcracker! he will continue to live the dream, he has just been cast in Matthew Bourne's The Car Man, at London’s Royal Albert Hall, later this year.
Tickets to see Rory in Nutcracker at the Glasgow King's Theatre are available here