Alumni of the National Youth Music Theatre (NYMT) including Jude Law, Sheridan Smith, Eddie Redmayne and Lara Pulver were joined last night by Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown for the launch of the youth company's new bursary scheme.

As previously reported, Brown will direct his Broadway musical 13 for the company, the first time he has helmed a large-scale production of his own work. The show plays a week's run at the Apollo Theatre from 22 to 25 August 2011.

NYMT will also stage a revival of Brown's song cycle Songs for a New World at the Bridewell Theatre from 31 July to 4 August 2012 and Howard Goodall and Charles Hart's The Dreaming at the Rose Theatre, Kingston from 16 to 22 July 2012.

Speaking to Jude Law called his time at NYMT an "incredibly formative" part of his career. "I look back now, and as someone who didn't go to drama school, it was my training ground. I introduced an awful lot of discipline," he said.

Law also praised the breadth of youngsters who joined the company, jokingly telling those gathered at the event that NYMT rehearsals were the first time he'd met youngsters from as far away as Cumbria and Eton.


Speaking about writing 13, which had a short-lived run on Broadway in 2008, Jason Robert Brown said he had been moved to create the piece having regularly watched teenager perform his work.

"I'd see these 14-year-old girls singing 'Stars and the Moon' which is about a woman entering her third marriage and knowing what she really values in life," he said, "I thought 'what does that girl know about it' and I wanted to write stuff for them which resonated in a really honest way, something that was really theirs, something that they could really believe in."

But the process of commercially staging the production, which transferred to New York's Bernard B Jacobs Theatre in September 2008 following a try-out run in Los Angeles, did leave Brown "in two minds" about whether the show was exploiting its young cast.

"When the show closed in New York we had to take great pains to assure the kids that it wasn't their fault. They were all taking it very personally. It was on them. They were all marvellous."

But Brown said he was "thrilled" the show was being staged in a West End theatre and under the auspices of NYMT, which he praised as a "reputable place for nurturing young talent" which has "a mission about taking care of the kids, nurturing them and giving them a leg up."

Later in the evening Brown took to the piano, accompanying Jude Law and other former NYMT members reprising their 1989 performances and singing "Close Every Door to Me" from Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Law, who won a Award in 2009, first performed with NYMT in Richard Stilgoe and Tony Castro's Bodywork at the Edinburgh Festival in 1987. Law stayed a member of the company until 1990, performing alongside the likes of Jonny Lee Miller.

NTMT's alumni also include stars of stage and screen including Matt Lucas, Ben Barnes, Charles Edwards, Sally Hawkins, Akiya Henry, Michael Jibson, Hannah Spearritt, Tom Hollander and Idris Elba as well as choreographers Peter Darling and Matthew Bourne.

As was announced on Friday, prior to leaving London Jason Robert Brown will perform a one-night gala in aid of NYMT on 26 August 2012. Titled Jason Robert Brown & Very Special Guests the concert will see NYMT members perform alongside the composer and a selection of special guests.