BEN Ellis – the Scarborough lad who went to London in search of a dream – is returning home a star.
He has, of course, been back to do a show for his beloved YMCA and various workshops – but this is the first time he has starred in a week-long run of a musical in his home town.
Ben plays one of the lead roles in the hit show Dreamboats and Petticoats at the Futurist on the seafront from Monday.
“I can’t wait to get back home,” said Ben in a break from a near sell-out week in Southampton.
“I have been to the Futurist but have never appeared on the stage there, so it’s a really exciting prospect for me,” he said.
He plays Norman in the musical written by Birds Of A Feather creators Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran. It is a role he has played several times in the West End and on the road last year as well as the current tour.
“Given the writers you’d expect it to be a very witty show and it is,” said Ben, “but it really is all about the music.”
He is also dance captain on the show which means he has to ensure the cast adapt to each venue and that the understudies are rehearsed and show ready.
Joining him on this tour is reality show performer Terry Winstanley – who was on the X-Factor.
Ben has made a foray into straight acting with The Hostage which gave him a chance to try out different skills.
“It was an honour to be asked and the reviews were good so I was pleased to have done it,” said Ben.
But it is the musical scene which has remained his focus.
Five years ago Ben came fourth in Any Dream Will Do – the BBC’s search for a star for the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Though he did not win, the show was a springboard to being cast as Link Larkin in Hairspray with Michael Ball. His performance won him an audience theatre award.
He has done pantomime – co-starring with Paul Nicholas and Craig Revel Horwood – TV presenting and album recordings as well as Dreamboats.
But he has never forgotten where it all started – the YMCA in St Thomas Street.
He returned to its stage in honour of its former executive director Chris Wilby who stepped down last year.
“The YMCA is a great building and Scarborough is lucky to have the organisation and all the people who work there. It gives youngsters a different perspective and the chance of somewhere to go and things to do –a real alternative to making mischief.
“It gave me a place to practise and hone my skills. I can honestly say that without that place I would not be where I am today.
“Everyone there is wonderful and generous. It is a real asset to the town.”
He is also looking forward to being able to stay with his family and enjoy home comforts instead of living out of a suitcase in a hotel room.
He gave up his London flat to tour but returns to the city at weekends to stay with his girlfriend Amy Diamond – a performer who is about to embark on a tour of Hair.
“I’m also looking forward to giving people, who have supported me but have not had the funds to travel, to see me on stage,” said Ben.