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

The Greatest Love

In the late 80s, Kevin Dowsett would have made more money if he had a pound for every audition featuring The Greatest Love of All. The lyrics, while sometimes seen as cheesy, truly resonate. He witnessed many off-key renditions, but one moment at the Royal Albert Hall transformed the song into pure magic.
Read more >

Break a Leg    

Kevin Dowsett, Theatretrain's Artistic Director, delves into the intriguing origins of "Break a Leg" and shares his recent experience watching Madagascar Junior by Waltham Forest Theatretrain. His heartfelt reflections highlight the joy of seeing young performers grow, their ensemble spirit, and the bittersweet farewell to long-serving student Ben Owen as he heads to university. Break a leg to all our talented performers!
Read more >

Meeting in the Middle

Theatretrain Artistic Director, Kevin Dowsett, explores the significance of space and personal boundaries in British culture, linking it to theatre training. On National Handshake Day, he reflects on the handshake's role in defining personal space, from crowded trains to the stage. Discover how stagecraft teaches us to own our space confidently.
Read more >

In the Room    

Welcome to Theatretrain's blog! Kevin Dowsett, the Artistic Director, shares his recent experience returning to the classroom. In a movement workshop at The Place in London, he worked with a Laban expert from Brazil, exploring creativity through movement. Discover how these exercises inspired flexibility and connection, and the lasting impact they had on him and his peers.
Read more >

Matilda

Kevin Dowsett, Artistic Director of Theatretrain, recently attended a captivating production of Matilda Jr. The young cast, many performing for the first time, dazzled with their enthusiasm and stage presence, especially during those powerful songs. 🌟 From Roald Dahl's book to Tim Minchin's musical, Matilda's charm continues to captivate audiences. 🎶✨
Read more >

Computer Says No

Kevin Dowsett, Artistic Director of Theatretrain, reflects on the frustrations of modern complexities in everyday tasks. Drawing a parallel with The Truman Show, he highlights how simple processes have become burdensome due to excessive regulations and risk aversion. Dowsett's insights resonate with anyone who feels thwarted by bureaucratic hurdles in an increasingly complicated world.
Read more >