My grandmother on my father’s side is to blame for my love of music. Mercy Tapster was her name and quite an independant woman she was…..Mercy played piano for the silent movies in Canterbury back in the 1920s and, aged four or five, standing next to her as she told the stories and played with her eyes closed, straight from the heart and you could tell. My mum’s dad also is also responsible for me catching the music bug. He played piano and ran a small dance band in Herefordshire, also in the ‘20s. I have a photo of them on stage at New Year’s Eve party, 1922. No music stands – all off by heart!
It’s no surprise then that I have played piano since the age of five, and adore film music and big band music. (My Uncle Tony played Tenor Sax in Victor Sylvester’s band) It was much more fun to play piano for a musical – all the songs and links, even improvise when there was a glitch on stage and they need 30 seconds to fill – music can really bring a show to life.
Enter 1974 stage left. I passed the audition to join the cast for the very first full-length production
of ’Joseph’, fresh from the pen of Lloyd-Webber and Rice: a 6-week run, two shows a day and rubbing shoulders with the young Jeremy Irons, Alan Rickman and Ben Cross. The amazing cocktail of great songs, stage lights and a powerful band made sure that music would somehow be central in my life.