Fame spurs on new stars

Fame The Musical, at the Sunderland Empire -  South Tyneside - l-r Anna Senior (15) of South Shields, James De Lauch Hay (18) of Cleadon, Sian Thirkettle (13) of South Shields, Michael Mather (18) of South Shields and Rosie Diaz (18) of Whitburn.

Fame The Musical, at the Sunderland Empire - South Tyneside - l-r Anna Senior (15) of South Shields, James De Lauch Hay (18) of Cleadon, Sian Thirkettle (13) of South Shields, Michael Mather (18) of South Shields and Rosie Diaz (18) of Whitburn.

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FOURTEEN-year-old Charlotte Chattendon has come into her own through the Sunderland Empire’s Stage Experience.

The Hendon youngster was picked to help with wardrobe and has excelled herself at making sure everyone has their headbands and costumes just right.

Charlotte, who goes to Southmoor School, is one of 130 young people taking part in this year’s Stage Experience Production of Fame!

Stage Experience has been running for seven years and is a two-week-intensive summer school with a professional performance at the end. The aim is to give young people the chance to take their place in the spotlight or learn about the jobs behind the scenes.

Charlotte said: “I did wardrobe last year for Bugsy Malone, but that was mainly suits. This year has been brilliant for costumes – really jazzy and with loads of bright colours. All of the characters have their own style.

“I’m doing textiles at school and all the little techniques and things I’ve learned will help me with that.

“I like making things and being really creative and I think that will help me as I get older. I’d like a job that’s creative and I’d hate to have no imagination.

Wardrobe mistress Sophie Hall has taken Charlotte under her wing and taught her the tricks of the trade.

Charlotte said: “My job is to pick outfits, customise them and get them to fit people and make them what they want.”

Creative learning manager Gemma Clough says that this year has been one of the best for talent.

She said: “It’s gone so well, but we’re trying not to admit that and jinx it.

“It’s a nice show to do for Stage Experience because the music is great and there are distinct groups for singers and dancers to be in.”

All of the young people taking part were chosen by gruelling auditions back in April, mirroring the plot of Fame, where stage school youngsters find out if they are tough enough to survive the world of showbiz.

Georgia Roberts is hoping for a career on stage and is off to London in September to study at the Eden College.

She has taken part in Stage Experience several times before.

The 16-year-old from Ryhope said: “I did ensemble for We Will Rock You and West Side Story when I was younger, so this is my first main part. I started dancing when I was four and I just love it.”

Harriet Richardson-Cockerline, from Hendon, plays the part of Carmen.

Harriet, 17, said: “It’s been hard but interesting. It’s good to see how your character develops. It’s such a short time to put it together and it goes really quickly, especially the choreography.”

Kieran Patel is already in his chosen profession, but feels Stage Experience has given him the chance to get back into acting as a hobby.

Kieran, 24, from Barmston, said: “I wish I’d done something like Stage Experience years ago. When I was training to be a teacher I didn’t have time, but I decided to go for it this year.

“I never thought I’d get a main part. From a teacher’s point of view I can see a massive benefit to the young people who take part because it’s done very professionally. On a personal level, it’s very humbling to realise people much younger than you are much better than you!”

Rhys Thompson is a Stage Experience veteran. The 17-year-old has taken part five times before and worked his way up to deputy stage manager.

Rhys, from Seaburn, said: “I’ve learned a lot about being organised. This is the first time I’ve had a script and had to keep track of our cast. In the past I’ve done lighting but I’ve enjoyed seeing it from a different aspect.”

Fame is at the Sunderland Empire on Friday and Saturday with tickets priced between £9 and £17.

Twitter: @alisongouldy

For tickets, book in person at the Box Office on High Street West, open from noon to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, or call 0844 871 3022.