West End performer goes back to his Derbyshire roots

Paul Ritchie Tomkinson

Paul Ritchie Tomkinson

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A West End performer is resurrecting a self-penned musical which celebrates his family and mid-Derbyshire where he grew up.

Paul Ritchie Tomkinson’s work Boorskale, which is an anagram of his birthplace Leabrooks, will be presented in Ilford next month.

The musical will be directed by Anthony van Laast, who has just finished working on the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast.

Paul and Anthony previously worked together in the revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (London Palladium) and the

original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Song & Dance (Palace Theatre).

Boorskale was first staged in 1993 when it won the Vivian Ellis Prize. It was performed again eight years later in Westcliffe, Sussex.

Paul said: “All of the three places I lived in Derbyshire are incorporated into Boorskale. The story is about three sisters who lived at Fort Lane (an anagram of Alfreton) who spend the whole show worrying whether they are going an old people’s home at Dridsing House (Riddings).

He plays the eldest sister, Mary, in the musical. “The show is a celebration of my family,” said Paul. “My mum was one of three sisters and it’s about things that would have happened if those three characters had lived together. The characters are an amalgamation of all the people I loved in my family and they contain characteristics of great-aunts, aunties, mum and dad. None of them are with me any more.”

A year after Boorskale was first produced, his mum and dad became ill and Paul, their only offspring, took 20 years out of the musical theatre profession to ensure he was available to travel from London to Derbyshire should they need him. His mum died in 2004 and his dad in 2010.

Paul, 58, said: “After my dad died, I started pegging the musical around again and it’s taken me this long to find a theatre to put it on.”

He is looking forward to getting the show back on stage, especially as his old schoolmates are travelling down from Derbyshire to see it. Paul said: “I’ve rekindled a friendship with them through Facebook. I hope they don’t let me know what day they’re coming because I’ll sob and I won’t be able to get a word out.”

A champion gymnast from 11 to 16 years, Paul left Derbyshire at the age of 17 when he won a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School. He joined Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet Company for a brief spell before going into musical theatre.

His West End theatre credits include playing the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Song & Dance where he covered for an injured Wayne Sleep, Hello Dolly and Oklahoma. On television, he performed in The Hot Shoe Show during the Eighties.

Paul lives in Putney and published a fantasy book for children, entitled Snowflake, last year.

l Boorskale will run at the Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford, from September 13 to 24.