When Theatretrain opened its doors in 1992 there were two students who have gone on to take very different journeys in the performing arts industry. One was the irrepressible Gemma Collins. She is described as a media personality and businesswoman and has 2 million followers on Instagram and over 1 million on Twitter.
But today I want to write about the other ex-student, Jason Kew. Both Jason and Gemma went to Lingen in Germany to represent Great Britain at the World Festival of Children’s Theatre. Jason also performed in our Beatles Show – The Long and Winding Road – the first time we played the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Jason liked performing but he developed a real interest in the technical side of theatre.
He worked extensively in the Westend and Disneyland during his late teenage years. At age 19 he went to work at the Barbican Centre in the City of London – the world-renowned theatre and concert hall and home of the London Symphony Orchestra. He worked his way through the ranks to eventually become the technical supervisor and Head of Lighting at the Concert Hall and he is currently the Acting Technical Manager. Alongside his work at the Barbican, he has freelanced as a lighting designer including for acts such as Take That, Little Mix, S Club 7, Westlife, Kylie and Elton John. He has also worked on TV and Film on a variety of shows from Ant and Dec, Big Brother to Harry Potter, Marvel Films and James Bond. He is currently working on a number of Netflix productions, alongside designing tours for bands and Artists in the U.K. and abroad. Last year he designed the lighting for Paul Weller when he recorded a set at the Barbican. He is simply an industry professional.
Apart from being a family man he is also a very nice person. Jason has never forgotten where he came from. All these years he has been our stage manager and called all our large-scale productions. He doesn’t need to work with Theatretrain but I’m glad he does. When we go into a big venue like the Theatre Royal Drury Lane or the Royal Albert Hall he speaks the language that other professionals understand. He has our back and being entirely unflappable he holds what we do together backstage. When, in one day, you have to bring together sound, lighting, an orchestra and 1200 young people you need someone at the centre of things who can talk it through and unite everyone backstage. And he’ll be doing it again this September when we return to the Royal Albert Hall.
So today Jason I salute your professionalism, I’m proud of what you have achieved but most of all I thank you for your incredible loyalty – you are one of those people who definitely put something back.