Former Cherwell School pupil David Luke tells Katherine MacAlister about his path to stage success as he prepares to return to Oxford as a star of Dreamboats and Petticoats

David Luke is hitting the big time at the moment, not only starring in Dreamboats and Petticoats but preparing to accompany none other than Sir Cliff Richard on tour. But while the Oxford lad, pictured right, and ex Stage Experience student is going great guns, he’s seen the other side and never takes anything for granted.

Landing a job with Sir Cliff does mean however that David will be cutting his stint in Dreamboats short in March to nip off to Europe to perform as a backing vocalist and guitarist in Europe’s biggest stadiums, to crowds of 15,000-20,000 people.

“Friends have been teasing me about working with Cliff Richard, but actually I’m a bit of a fan,” he admits. “It is unusual for a young man I know, but if I didn’t take up this opportunity I’d be a crazed lunatic so it’s amazing really...”

Accompanying Sir Cliff means that David is already practicing his new moves, mimicking those of The Shadows. “The Shadows invented half of them, so I need to recreate that. There is quite a bit of choreography involved actually.”

Catch David while you can next week then during the week-long musical at Oxford’s New Theatre in which he plays the lead singer of The Conquests.

“Yes, I’m multi-talented,” he laughs. “But I’m getting used to Dreamboats now after performing it around 200 times already.

”It’s a nice love story between Bobby and Laura, who get together when writing a song for a competition at the local youth club,” he tells me. “It does what it says on the tin – it’s funny and light-hearted, set in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and the audience comes out afterwards having had a very good time. Sometimes you need that.”

David is already really looking forward to performing again at the New Theatre, having “grown up on stage there,” joining the former Stage Experience programme and starring in Joseph aged 11, followed by Fagin in Oliver Twist and Troy in High School Musical with a full orchestra: “It was amazing,” he remembers. Guys and Dolls came next, as well as David being cast in several student productions at the Playhouse.

Meanwhile David, who was at Cherwell School, was working hard to make it in the world of acting. “I never wanted to do anything else,” he tells me. Having left and then graduated from Bath Spa University’s School of Music and Drama, work took a while to start coming in and David’s parents tried to persuade him to do a teaching training course to tide him over. “I don’t blame them because it was really hard at the beginning and 80-90 per cent of my year group gave up on acting. So you have to find other things to do and take jobs to tide you over,” he explains.

But then came a part in a national tour of Mozart’s Zaide which opened at Sadlers Wells, and the rest is history, numerous musicals, plays and even films following. “I’m glad I stuck with it because it’s worth it now,” David reflects. Was he ever tempted to throw in the towel then? “No, I never wanted to quit. I gave myself a time limit though,” the 27 year-old said. “I decided that if it hadn’t happened for me by the time I was 30 I would think about doing something else, but otherwise I never thought about quitting.”

All of which helps David put on the best possible performance when he gets out on stage every night with the Dreamboats cast. “It does help even when I’m really tired or don’t particularly feel like performing because I’m very fortunate to be working,” he says.

And although his family have since left Oxford, David still has lots of friends here, many of whom he expects to see in the audience next week. “I’m really looking forward to it. It always takes me back, performing at the New Theatre, so it will be quite emotional playing there as a professional for the first time and thinking about everything that’s happened since the last time I was there.”

Dreamboats And Petticoats returns to Oxford’s New Theatre from Monday until Saturday, February 22.
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