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Leslie writes little gem

YOU hum it Leslie and we'll play it. In fact, we'll make a musical out of it.

Not many men who can't read or write a word of music can claim to have written a musical at the age of 79 but jeweller Leslie Cass can. Perhaps it's in the blood.

His late brother Ronnie wrote the scores for the Cliff Richard musicals Summer Holiday, The Young Ones and Wonderful Life and was an accomplished composer.

Now much later in life Leslie is following in his footsteps. He's written the dozen or so tunes for Ruth, based on the Old Testament book, by humming or singing the lyrics and getting his musical partner Stephen Swycher to transcribe it with the help of a computer.

"I have done it all in my head. I endeavour to sing what is in my mind and then he translates it," says Leslie, founder of the Leslie Cass jeweller's shop on Surrey Street.

"I don't find it difficult to put a melody to words."

He's always loved the story of Ruth, a widow who refuses to return to her family but supports her in-laws and eventually marries a farmer.

Ruth the musical will be performed by the newly-formed Kingfield Theatre Company at Kingfield Hall from October 27 to 29.

Leslie at first had only a couple of tunes when he approached Andy Collis, musical director of Manor Operatic.

"He said he could do something with them but needed more songs. I find I can write them if they develop out of the story," says Leslie, singing a little ditty, Let Us Glean.

Ruth has always been one of his favourite Bible stories but he admits that as it is a very short book he has had to take some liberties and invent a couple of characters to provide a conflict and storyline.

Leslie, who first got the idea when watching the musical Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat in London, has roped in singers from musical groups from across the city for Ruth.

They include Charlotte Nimmo (Dore Gilbert & Sullivan Society and Intake Methodist Musical Society) in the title role of Ruth, fellow Gilbertian Mike Cox as her lover Boaz and Graham Seaton of the Denys Edwards Players as Ethan.

Susan Burns, Kingfield's publicity officer and returning to the stage herself after 20 years to play Ruth's mother-in-law Naomi, says: "It's not rip-roaring Chicago-style music, not even Jesus Christ Superstar music but lovely, gentle music."

In tribute to Ronnie, Leslie has included one of his tunes in the musical.

He says: "It's a most beautiful melody which he composed for his two daughters when they married, based on a Hebrew prayer."

The Lord and Lady Mayoress have been invited to the gala opening night.

And does Leslie have anything else up his sleeve? "Ronnie composed a musical set in Ireland many years ago but it was abandoned because of the situation there. I am determined if I possibly can to turn it into a musical."

Tickets for the show, directed by Gay Benjamin, are available from Joyce Flowers on 0114 267 8744. Opening night is 20 and following nights 10. Proceeds to Macmillan Cancer Support.

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