Blogger Trish Burgess writes for the Free Press
Recently I was sitting in the South Holland Centre, choked with tears, having watched a spellbinding performance of Les Miserables (School Edition) by the Act 11 Theatre Company.
The talent on that stage was quite remarkable: some individuals would be a perfect fit in a professional production.
We are very fortunate in South Holland to have such excellent provision for training our youngsters in the field of performing arts. Companies such as Act II and Polka Dot Academy have experienced, dedicated teachers who can nurture talent and enthusiasm from a very young age.
To top it all, the chance to perform their shows in a superb local theatre must surely be the icing on the cake and, I suspect, is why so many of them get a taste for show business and are keen to progress further.
In 2010 I was asked to help Polka Dot’s Limelight Youth Theatre with their production of Billy Elliot. They needed a Geordie voice coach and, having never lost my accent despite many years away from Newcastle (I blame daily phone calls to my mother) I was apparently just what they needed. I instructed the girls to channel Cheryl Cole and the boys to watch YouTube clips of Ant and Dec.
We had lots of fun at rehearsals going through their lines and I watched proudly as they sang and acted their hearts out on stage.
It struck me recently that several members of the cast of that production are now studying drama. They were so inspired by their experiences in Spalding that they saw their future in performing arts.
Lottie Sacks, now aged 15, is studying at the Susie Earnshaw Theatre School in London: the opportunities to perform on stage and screen are now very real possibilities. She has Polka Dot Academy, Act II and Spalding School of Dance to thank for the excellent training she was given in the very early years.
Yet I remember Lottie, aged four, on stage with Spalding Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society (SADOS), playing the part of Princess Ying Yaowalak in The King and I, a tiny figure who had to recite a letter to Mrs Anna: she captivated the whole audience with her performance.
What’s so fantastic about the young people who are being trained by local youth theatres is how they are a valuable resource for our own adult theatre groups. In my years with SADOS we have had brilliant support.
Young performers from the Trapdoor Theatre Company were an intrinsic part of our choruses for Calamity Jane and Guys and Dolls whilst members of Spalding School of Dance brought life to our productions of The Pajama Game and Oklahoma!
If you haven’t been to any of these youth theatre productions, I urge you to go along next time and support them. I guarantee you will be blown away by the sheer professionalism of these children. In years to come, when they are appearing in the West End, you can proudly say you knew them before they were famous.