WANNABE West End stars are limbering up to gain a foot in the door of their dream career.
Sunderland Empire has launched its annual Stage Experience summer school, which gives young people, aged nine to 25, the chance to star in and stage a professionally produced musical.
This year’s show will be Footloose and a talented cast and crew will take part in two weeks of rehearsals and workshops from July 22, before staging the musical on Wearside’s biggest theatre stage.
Now in its eighth year, Stage Experience has successfully produced a host of West End-style productions from Thoroughly Modern Millie, We Will Rock You and West Side Story to Boogie Nights, Oliver, Bugsy Malone and Fame.
Many have used the experience gained at the school to help win a place at London theatre schools and even TV fame, including 19-year-old Jessica Robinson from Middlesbrough, who has since starred in BBC’s search for a Dorothy show, Over The Rainbow.
Georgia Roberts, 16, from Ryhope is one of the acting hopefuls who will be applying for auditions for this year’s show held in May.
“I played Miss Bell in last year’s production of Fame and it was a great experience,” she said.
“In previous years I’ve also done We Will Rock You and West Side Story, but in the ensemble.
“I’m studying theatre at the Urdang Academy in London now but I want to do this in the summer as it really helps to give you a platform. Performing on your home stage is such a buzz.”
Successful participants will work alongside a professional director, musical director, choreographer and backstage crew to train in singing, dancing, acting and technical theatre, before taking to the stage for four live performances of the show.
Successful theatre and TV actor Philip Franks, who is best known for playing Charlie in The Darling Buds of May, and Sergeant Craddock in Heartbeat, took a break from his role as the narrator in Rocky Horror Show, which has been running at the Empire, to give the stars of the future some tips.
“I think the Stage Experience is a great idea,” he said.
“People pay an awful lot of attention to sport but a career in theatre is every bit as valid and possibly more so. Because as well as the thrill of performing and the self satisfaction of doing something well, you get to be part of a team and work with a vitally-linked group of people.
“It’s an absolute little image of what a democracy is. Everybody’s part is vitally important.”
AUDITIONS for acting roles will be held on May 25 with call backs the following day.
Everyone will be taught a song and dance from the show and then required to perform these in small groups.
To ensure an audition place, all applicants are required to complete an application form, which can be downloaded from www.facebook.com/SunderlandStageExperience or from Hollie Coxon on Tel.566 1056 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Completed forms must be returned, together with four passport photographs, by Friday, May 3 to: Stage Experience, Sunderland Empire, High Street West, Sunderland, SR1 3EX.