Sheffield actor’s musical breakthrough

Luke Simnett, Sheffield actor and musician
Luke Simnett, Sheffield actor and musician
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A young Sheffield actor and musician is excited that a musical he has written is getting big exposure online.

Luke Simnett and writing partner Patrick Phillips, who is also from Sheffield but now lives in Edinburgh, have written Martin Luther: A New Musical together.

They approached Dress Circle, which is the oldest specialist musical theatre shop in the world, about the project.

Dress Circle agreed to release an MP3 download of one of the show’s songs, Man of The Mountains, as a pay-for download, to trial their new MP3 downloads service, which they are promoting to their mailing list of more than 30,000 people, most of whom are musical theatre fans.

Luke and Patrick are hoping that the exposure will lead to more interest in the project, which tells the story of the charismatic ‘father of the protestant reformation’.

The mysterious German monk was to become one of the most controversial figures of history.

Man of the Mountains comes at a pivotal point in the story where, inspired by the prophets of old, Luther decides to take a stand against the corruption which he perceives in his beloved church.

His action was to have a profound impact on the whole of the western Christian world.

Luke, aged 27, who lives in Walkley but was born in Kiveton Park, Rotherham, said: “We’re really excited about it. It’s a big opportunity for us as writers.

“We’ve been trying to break through for quite a long time. Things are really starting to take off with it.”

Luke said that they had also been approached by the artistic director of a small London theatre company to showcase the musical for a charity gala, starring Katy Treharne, who played Christine in Phantom of the Opera in the West End. “We really hope that it comes together,” said Luke.

They may also showcase the show in Sheffield.

Luke said: “I’ve just always loved musicals, it’s hard to explain why. I don’t know, they are silly and people just burst into song suddenly!”

His mum Angela Cooper has performed for many years with groups such as Ellesmere, Teachers’ and Woodseats operatic societies.

Luke made his first appearance in Cinderella at the age of four and has also been involved in amateur dramatics in Sheffield.

A graduate of the Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama in Nottingham, Luke is now a professional musical theatre actor.

He has appeared in the ensemble of a new musical, A Love Beyond, which premiered at the Brighton Centre last year and is playing at Wembley Arena in October. The show tells the story of the Bible.

At the moment Luke is auditioning for acting roles, teaching singing privately and setting up a singing group that will perform at functions to make some money.

He used to play in a ska band called Superficial Heroes when he was 18, gigging around South Yorkshire.

He said: “That was really fun. We once played in a squat on Matilda Street. That was a really interesting gig, a real eye-opener, with a dog that ran through the dancefloor at one point.”

To find the download of Man of the Mountains, go to http://www.dresscircle.com/downloads