In tune for a new direction

James meets a Japanese youngster during his visit with the Young Americans
James meets a Japanese youngster during his visit with the Young Americans

AT 21, James Pattison is already living his dream.

The talented Hartlepool musician and actor has travelled the world and performed in far-off lands.

But now, a new direction is on the horizon for the keen tap dancer, guitarist, singer and actor.

Chris Cordner found out more.

THIRTY months ago, James Pattison was spotted as a rising talent.

He shone out from the crowd when an infectiously enthusiastic group of USA performers called the Young Americans came to town to look for aspiring young hopefuls that they could recruit for their global organisation.

Two years and six months on, James is about to become a talent scout himself. After a Christmas break with his family in his hometown, he is about to return Stateside to rejoin the Young Americans.

He will look for solo singers, dancers and other people who can perform major dance numbers in a show.

It could not be more exciting for the former Manor College of Technology student whose time in America has been a stunning success.

Not long after arriving, he went on a four-month tour of Japan and South Korea - helping the Young Americans to put on shows but also to hold workshops and to encourage locals to shine.

But as much as it was memorable, it was humbling as well.

Japan had a striking effect on him. He and his fellow students performed in a new school built in a town called Tohoku. It was devastated by the 2011 Japanese tsunami in which nearly 19,000 people died.

Yards away, the wreckage of the old school still stands as a memorial to those who perished.

Almost none of the children who attended it survived.

Even though some of the children were seven or eight, you could see how damaged they were by the whole situation”, said James, who performed as a guitarist in the Young Americans band that day. “One girl lost seven out of nine family members. It was really hard-hitting and yet it was really fulfilling to work hard and lift them a little.”

Visits to all parts of the UK, and to South African townships have followed.

And there have been plenty of experiences in the USA.

James said: “We once had to do dinner theatre, which is where we did a two-hour show, met and greeted everyone and served them all food.”

Its been a learning curve for James who said: “I had never left Europe until I joined the Young Americans. Now it has spurred me to be an actor musician.” His time with the Young Americans may soon be over after his stint as a talent spotter, but his USA dream is not.

This August, he will go Fullerton University in California, south of Los Angeles to study musical theatre for four years. After that, James said: “I would quite like to work on cruise ships for a while and I want to break into the theatre world.”