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Chris Cuming is the newly appointed Artistic Director of the National Youth Music Theatre (NYMT). With a background in dance and production, he reveals the people and places who have inspired his career. 

Chris Cuming surrounded by young people
Chris Cuming at this year's NYMT auditions
Harry Elletson

It’s a privilege to work with an incredible team at NYMT to build on the history of new music theatre. And to see our alumni now working across the industry makes me passionate about ensuring more people get to experience NYMT. 

I’ve been with this company for ten years, and have worked as a teacher, lecturer, movement director, director and choreographer in all genres. But I wouldn’t be here without my gurus.

Lorraine O’Hanlon – dance teacher

When I was just four years old, after watching The Nutcracker on TV, I asked my parents if I could learn ballet. 14 years later, I left Lorraine’s School of Dance & Drama. 

Lorraine taught me what are now core parts of my practice. Stamina: not only physical but mental. Professionalism and discipline: without these I wouldn’t have rigour in my work. Creativity: together with stamina, professionalism and discipline, she taught me a creative and interpretive form of dance. 

John Murphy – head teacher

At secondary school, I wanted to produce an end-of-term show to raise money for charity. As a small Year 7 pupil, I booked a meeting with the Head - John Murphy -who encouraged me to do it. So I did, and continued to do it for the seven years I spent at the school. 

What John taught me was more than just trust and belief in me. He guided me and gave me his insight into producing. He showed me the importance of having an entrepreneurial spirit about doing things – not waiting for them to happen. This has greatly influenced how I work in my new role at NYMY and all other projects I produce.

Rwanda – school trip

My life changed when I went Rwanda on a school trip. While there I saw the world from a different perspective. I got to step back and really think - something I think we all need to find time for. 

The experience showed what my priorities in life were and how to consider my options for my future. It’s where I discovered what I really wanted to do It was here I chose to go to the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama 

DV8 - physical theatre

While I trained in dance, I struggled with its structure. The more I choreographed, the more I realised how this physical language could be used to create stories that enabled audiences to go on a journey. 

When I saw DV8’s piece To Be Straight With You, it brought together for me what theatre could be. It wasn’t simply drama, verbatim, dance, theatre or music - it was a fusion of forms that told a story that truly inspired me to create theatre. 

I don’t believe in labels on people or things and what this show taught me was that just being allows for so many creative endeavours. 

Norwich Theatre - panto 

Pantomime is such an important part of the theatre ecology and of the many lives it touches. From the depths of childhood memories, it remains an important art form for me. 

I was fortunate to work with Norwich Theatre and with the incredible team led by Wendy Ellis and Stephen Crocker. Together we created a show that pushed the boundaries of the art form. But more than that, observing the audience watch the show - one of my favourite things to do – and seeing their joy in an art form that brings together so many forms of theatre together, was something very hard to beat. 


Over the past decade, I’ve had the honour of working in various roles at NYMT. Through workshops, productions and concerts, I’ve seen the huge impact theatre can have on young people. 

NYMT has become a home for many young people who otherwise don’t naturally have one at school or within their community. It seeks out and finds like-minded people – not just the young people themselves, but creatives too. 

The community at NYMT gets to meet a wide and other creatives, to find support and to grow personal and industry contacts. I couldn’t be more excited to start work and to develop and push NYMT to see where it can grow into the future. 

Chris Cuming is Artistic Director of the National Youth Music Theatre. 
@NYMTuk | @ChrisCuming

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Headshot of Chris Cuming