James Cleeve

Musical Director

"James Cleeve’s smoothly accomplished musical supervision hits advanced standards".
The Guardian, March 2017

I am an experienced Musical Director who loves to get the best out of people I work with.

I've MD'd numerous theatrical productions, workshops, cabarets and education projects in London and across the UK, including conducting in the Festival Hall and playing in West End pits. I play piano, keyboards, accordion and organ, and also transcribe, arrange and orchestrate.

I love composing, and I'm a member of the Book Music & Lyrics Advanced Composers' Workshop and Mercury Musical Developments.
In December 2018, I was delighted to win the Iris Theatre Xmas Factor Prize with Mike Stocks for our song "Heroes of Christmas, Celebrated Panto Dames" .

I'm represented by Access Artiste Management.

Feel free to get in touch - I'm always on the lookout for new, exciting work!

Featured Work

Summer 2017


Charing Cross Theatre
Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester
Musical Director

Following a critically acclaimed European Premiere in Manchester, The Squad of Company Y transferred into London with this really special show written by the Zellnik brothers.
Set in the U.S. Military during WW2, this intimate love story between two men captured the imaginations of audiences and the press alike.
★★★★★ Attitude
★★★★ The Guardian
★★★★ The Stage
★★★★ Daily Express

Feb 2019

Wendi Peters: Let Me Sing

Live at Zedel
Musical Director

I had the absolute privilege of working with the gorgeous Wendi Peters for this special one-off night at the Crazy Coqs.
We spun our way through an hour of our own arrangements of medleys and songs, all telling the story of Wendi's life and career in theatre, TV and on the UK baking scene!
Photo Credit: Martin Smith @ Origin8 Photography

Spring 2018

San Domino

Tristan Bates Theatre
Musical Director, Orchestrator & Vocal Arrangements

An intimate tale of love, loss and the struggle to survive, this show was based on the reality of Mussolini’s persecution of gay men.
I MD'd a 16-strong ensemble of actor-musicians, as well as orchestrating the score and writing all the vocal arrangements.
The Stage were impressed: "Talented musicians, great musical direction, ... and the cast are terrific", as were Musical Theatre Review: "★★★★ - The music impresses from the off".

March 2019

Yank! Reunion

Cafe de Paris
Musical Director

A truly special evening in aid of THT and the Albert Kennedy Trust. We brought the Manchester and London squads back together with a 3-piece band for an amazing reunion at the Cafe de Paris. Such a joy to play this music again!

October 2016

The Sound of Music

National Tour
Associate Musical Director

Associate MD for David Steadman on the BKL National Tour, starring Lucy O'Byrne and Andrew Lancel.
"A cast full of marvellous musical theatre voices ... Is there a stronger score in Broadway history?" (Broadway World)

March 2016

Lambeth Music Festival

Royal Festival Hall

My fourth amazing year conducting 900 kids, an organ and an awesome band on stage in the RFH, for the culmination of the Lambeth Music Festival. The sound is out of this world!
Our special guest in 2016 was the fantastic Lara Lee, Finalist on The Voice UK 2015.

2012-13, 2015

Top Hat

The Aldwych & National Tour
Keys/Accordion Dep

I was a regular dep on the Olivier Award-winning Top Hat in the West End and on tour, covering the keys and onstage accordion chair.
MD Dan Jackson.


The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Arts Theatre West End
Musical Director

The London revival of Rupert Holmes' Tony Award winning musical transferred from The Landor straight to the West End, playing at the Arts for four weeks.
Time Out ★★★★ "Excellent", WhatsOnStage "spirited musical direction."


MD Credits

2019 Molly Mahoney: Mischief Crazy Coqs
2019 Liza Pulman Sings Streisand National Tour
2019 Yank! Renuion Concert Cafe de Paris
2019 Wendi Peters: Live at Zedel Crazy Coqs
2019 Swallows & Amazons Mountview
2018 Dick Whittington Central Theatre Chatham
2018 East 15 Young Shakespeare Company Shakespeare's Globe
2018 Shoo Shoo Baby National Tour
2018 Claire Sweeney: Cabaret P&O Cruises
2018 San Domino Tristan Bates Theatre ★★★★★ The Gay UK
★★★★ Musical Theatre Review & London Theatre 1
2018 Liza Pulman Sings Streisand National Tour
2018 Wendi Peters: Let Me Sing & I'm Happy P&O Cruises
2017 Jack & The Beanstalk Gordon Craig Stevenage
2017 Yank! Charing Cross Theatre ★★★★ Daily Express, Broadway World & WhatsOnStage
2017 Yank! Hope Mill Theatre Manchester ★★★★★ Attitude
★★★★ The Guardian & The Stage
2016 Wendi Peters: Let Me Sing & I'm Happy The Other Palace ★★★★ Musical Theatre Review
2016 New Zealand YSC Shakespeare's Globe
2016 Christine Bovill: Paris Crazy Coqs
2016 Peter Pan Gordon Craig Stevenage
2015 Ushers: The Front of House Musical Arts Theatre West End ★★★★★ The Scotsman
2015 Sleeping Beauty Gordon Craig Stevenage ★★★★ The Stage
2015 Midnight The Other Palace ★★★★★ Musical Theatre Review
2014 San Domino Grimeborn Festival
2014 Shoo Shoo Baby National Tour
2013 A Class Act The Landor ★★★★★ Whats On Stage
2013 Avenue Q Theatre Royal Windsor
2012 The Mystery of Edwin Drood Arts Theatre West End ★★★★ Time Out

AMD Credits

2017 Sing Before You Speak Again Young Vic MD - Joseph Atkins
2016 The Sound of Music National Tour MD - David Steadman
2015 Elegies Criterion MD - Dean Austin

Animateur Credits

2019 ENO Baylis Education Dept ENO
2018 Musical Theatre Workshop: Young Vic Taking Part Young Vic
2015 The Freedom Game Surrey Arts - Royal Albert Hall
2013 - 2016 Lambeth Singing Festival Royal Festival Hall
2009 - Present Learning & Participation Dept Southbank Centre

Keys/Accordion Credits

2016 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang National Tour Dep MD - Andrew Hilton
2015 Top Hat National Tour Dep MD - Jae Alexander
2014 Jacques Brel is Alive & Well Charing Cross Theatre MD - Dean Austin
2012-13 Top Hat Aldwych & National Tour Dep MD - Dan Jackson
2012 Victor/Victoria Southwark Playhouse MD - Joe Atkins
2015 - Present Audition Pianist Thursford Christmas Spectacular, Stricly Ballroom, Dr. Dolittle
2013 - Present Black Cat Cabaret Crazy Coqs, Cafe de Paris, Cafe Royal
2008 - Present Education & Outreach Projects Southbank Centre, Spitalfields Music, Glyndebourne,
English Touring Opera, English National Opera