From Petone Fair to the West End: Lower Hutt's dancing king is back in town
He has danced in West End shows and met Mick Jagger, but nothing beats tucking into some Kiwi chips for one ex-Lower Hutt local.
Twenty-one-year-old Leslie Bowman has taken a break from his work on London's stages to head back home for a visit. And some proper Kiwi chips chips was at the top of his to-do list.
"London chips are not the same. They taste like they've been left out too long and have no salt."
At 16 years old, Bowman left St Patrick's Silverstream to take up a three-year scholarship at Laine Theatre Arts college in London, despite being under the college's entry age of 17.
After graduating in 2015, he started auditioning for everything he could, from Cats to Wicked and beyond. One day, his agent signed him up to auditions for Thriller Live, the Michael Jackson tribute show.
Hundreds of hopefuls turned out for seven male spots in the show. Bowman was eligible for only two.
After three weeks of auditions and waiting, he found out he'd got a spot.
For the past 14 months, he has been performing in Thriller Live eight times a week. If he's not on stage, he's taking notes on the other dancers in his role as assistant dance captain.
"My job is to help run the show and keep the dancers clean [in their movements]," he said.
His parents couldn't be prouder of him, but they found moving halfway across the world with him took its toll.
"The first two years were really tough," mum Diana Bowman said. They didn't know anyone in the area, and found the culture a shock.
It has been an action-packed few years for Bowman. Highlights include meeting Mick Jagger and Queen guitarist Brian May during rehearsals, as well as performing for 15,000 people at West End Live, a showcase containing parts from every West End show.
While his parents planned to move back to New Zealand at some point in the future, Bowman knows London is the place to be for performing arts.
He's come a long way since dancing in the Petone Fair as a teenager, but he said it was good to get back to New Zealand.
"I miss my friends and family more than anything. It's nice to come back and take a break from the hustle and bustle of London."