“A magnificent miracle of a musical” (Mark Shenton)

Published by Rogers and Hammerstein Theatricals
Book, music and lyrics by Benjamin Till
Additional lyrics by Nathan Taylor and Sir Arnold Wesker
Dramaturgy: Philippa Goslett
Commissioned and first performed by the National Youth Music Theatre.

Brass is a First World War epic musical, about members of the Leeds Pals Battalion, who went over the top on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1st, 1916.

The musical tells the tale of a Leeds-based brass band, the members of which sign up to fight for King and Country at the outbreak of war.  In their absence, their sisters, wives and sweethearts attempt to learn the instruments their menfolk have left behind, so that they can play for them when they return triumphantly from war. 

But will they succeed, and how many of the Pals are destined to return to Yorkshire?

A series of loves stories weaves its way throughout the musical.  We follow the women, all munitions workers at the infamous Barnbow Factory, as they attempt to form and rehearse a band, whilst the men, desperate for any sort of music at all, simply try to stay alive in the trenches.

An original cast album of music from the show is now available through the NYMT's website, or to download from iTunes.

2016 production:

Hackney Empire August 2016
Directed by Hannah Chissick
Choreography: Sam Spencer Lane
Musical director: Alex Aitken

"Run, don’t walk to the Hackney Empire to see it. Needs to transfer to the National Theatre. Brass is one of the best musicals from the front line I’ve ever seen. An evening of gripping power. Stunningly performed"

"One of the theatrical highlights of the year. Benjamin Till’s writing is monumental – an audacious combination of Oh What A Lovely War and Les Miserables. Every song hits the mark and is perfectly placed, the ebb and flow of the numbers ensuring a rollercoaster of a ride. From the triumphant and celebratory to the heart-wrenching and devastating, each number is absolutely compelling, and Till deserves to be seated at musical theatre’s top table for his efforts. Brass is a truly epic musical event – I can’t think of a better British score from recent years."
(Craig Glenday,

"The show’s score is one that you want – you need – to revisit again and again. Till and his collaborators are such major talents that there isn’t a single line, phrase or bar that doesn’t repay repeated hearing. Quite honestly, it’s a breath-taking achievement. Mark Shenton has said that it belongs in the National Theatre, and he’s not wrong. Music is exquisitely, beautifully crafted to tell an exciting theatrical story. Till’s vocabulary is virtuosic and his command of orchestral and vocal colour symphonic in ambition and masterfulness.”
(Julian Eaves,

2014 production:

Leeds City Varieties
Directed by Sara Kestleman.
Choreography: Matt Flint
Musical Director: Benjamin Holder

Winner of the UK Theatre Award for Best Musical Production 2014

"An ambitious, often stunning new WW1 musical. Brass is a million miles from escapist, contemporary musicals, that dares to tell a serious story with feeling and emotion. Benjamin Till has the most authentic British musical theatre voice since Howard Goodall." 
(Mark Shenton)

Videos of Brass