October 4, 2023

Memory of Neil

In memory of our former bandmate, Neil Hatton, whose quiet mastery of the keys left an indelible mark on our past shows. Neil's unassuming presence and remarkable talent made him an unsung hero in our band's journey. Join us on Kevin's Blog as we pay tribute to the man who played the music and let it speak volumes.

I wanted to write a few words today about our former colleague in the band who played at all our big shows. Neil Hatton played keyboards for nearly 30 years and sadly and suddenly passed away in 2021. I didn’t get to know him like a friend but over time you speak to each other in passing

Neil was by nature a retiring person. He was also a rock; you just knew he was one of those people who would be able to handle well any situation. Unruffled. You need people like that and like the rest of the band, he could mix up and play many different styles.

I can still picture him in 2004 at the Royal Albert Hall. The first number was a big wham, an in-your-face medley of hits – one from each decade in the twentieth century. Big and bold and brash ending with Let Me Entertain You.

Then suddenly we went to a song celebrating the years 1900-1905 and there was Neil playing solo piano. It was Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin. It was fun to go from noise and clamour to one instrument, but Neil calmly sat there seemingly impassively, and you hardly noticed his fingers move. You could be forgiven for thinking that it was pre-recorded, and he was just sitting there pretending. But he wasn’t – the tricky rhythms seemed effortless and they just poured out.

I think it was a mark of the gentleman. He seemed to possess the genuine humility and gentleness of the best performers. Sure, there are those with big egos and maybe sometimes those are necessary, but he was a man who was happy being part of a band, who didn’t draw attention to himself, got on with the job and did it so well you were barely aware of it.

On the day we projected his name and photo on the screen while a spotlight lit up an empty chair. He would probably wonder why we made such a fuss, but we wanted to remember him.
We salute you Neil for your professionalism, skill, and humility.

Theatretrain, a nationwide provider of weekend theatre schools for young people aged 4-18, specialises in weekly classes in acting, singing, and dancing. An emphasis is placed on learning valuable life skills such as confidence, empathy, courage, and resilience. If you know a child who loves to dance, act and sing or could do with a little confidence boost why not visit to find out what our performing arts classes can offer your child at one of our 80 locations across the UK.

Related Articles

Flying through Flanders

Kevin Dowsett, Artistic Director of Theatretrain, recounts his Antwerp escapade, from coffee calamities to exploring vibrant theatres and explores how Belgium see value in the arts.
Read more >

Crazy for You

Join Theatretrain Artistic Director Kevin Dowsett as he shares the enchanting experience of watching 'Crazy for You' at the Gillian Lynne Theatre. Dive into the magic of tap dancing, embrace the cheesy love stories, and discover why this musical is a perfect blend of joy and optimism.
Read more >

A Success Story

Dive into the vibrant world of theatre magic with Kevin Dowsett, Theatretrain's Artistic Director. Today, he shares the incredible journey of Callum Balmforth, a former student turned professional performer, making waves on and offstage!
Read more >

Saying Yes to Ideas

In this insightful blog, our Artistic Director, Kevin Dowsett, explores the power of saying yes to ideas and the transformative impact it can have on creativity and communication.
Read more >

I Have a Dream   

In this blog post by Kevin Dowsett, the realms of reality TV and musical theatre come together. The blog provides a exploration of the inner mechanisms of a reality show, the varied skills of its contestants, and the skill of establishing a connection with an audience through song and character. His distinctive viewpoints illuminate this considerate analysis. For the complete blog post, please click on the link either above or below in the bio. ☝️👇
Read more >

Important Things in the Arts

In this blog by Theatretrain Director Kevin Dowsett, we delve into the vital role the arts played in his school days and how they shaped his career. Discover the concerning decline in performing arts education and the need to bring it back into the core of the school curriculum. Kevin emphasizes the life skills and personal growth that the arts provide and underscores their intrinsic value in nurturing young minds.
Read more >