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Leeds brass band leads to stage hit

Family heritage draws a link between City Varieties and Leeds Grand Theatre.

Josef Pitura Riley (Donnie) Right with Keiran McGinn (Curtis), left, in Save The Last Dance For Me.

Jukebox musical Save The Last Dance For Me swings into Leeds next week taking to the Grand Theatre stage in a rock ‘n’ roll extravaganza.  Comedy-writing duo Laurence Marks & Maurice Gran (Birds of a Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart, Shine on Harvey Moon) are behind the show that celebrates the music of the early 60s.

Josef Pitura-Riley plays Donnie and is in the show’s RAF rock ‘n’ roll band playing the trumpet and bugle. Although he was brought up in Dulwich, his father’s family hail from Leeds where the connection to playing brass is strong.

“I was talking to my Dad about how so many of his family in Leeds play brass instruments and it turns out the brass connection goes back even further than I thought,” says Josef.

“My Dad, Grandad and Great Uncle all play in the Guiseley Brass Band in Leeds, my Great Grandfather was the conductor as well as a bugler in World War One and my Great Great Grandfather – a man called Walter Wade – was a music hall artiste in Yorkshire around 1900 – apparently he played at the City Varieties Music Hall, which I understand is still up and running. I shall have to pay it a visit.”

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Featuring the classic hits of Doc Pomus & Mort Schuman including A Teenager In Love, Sweets For My Sweet, Turn Me Loose and, of course, Save The Last Dance For Me, the story follows two teenage sisters through the summer of ‘63.

For the first time without their parents, the sisters embark on a holiday to the seaside. Full of freedom and high spirits they meet a handsome young American who invites them to a dance at the local U.S. Air force base, but young love and holiday romance is never as simple as it sounds. The sisters soon realise that while the world around them is still watching itself in black and white, life and love can be much more colourful.

Save The Last Dance For Me is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 8th to Saturday 13th April.

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