A THEATRE group is raising the curtain on its birthday celebrations with a production marking its own milestone.
Seaham Youth Theatre is staging Les Miserables as part of its 20th birthday programme of events.
At the same time they are helping to champion the musical as it reaches its 25th anniversary.
The 33-strong cast of 11- to 18-year-olds is busy rehearsing ahead of the show, which will be staged at Seaham School of Technology from Tuesday until Saturday.
Heather Hepple, the group’s secretary, said: “It’s got a really strong cast and some of them will be moving on soon because they will be going to university and other things, so it could be their last with us.
“Rehearsals are going extremely well. It’s encouraging because it’s a big show. It’s also a challenge because it’s a musical, but they have risen to that challenge.”
Seaham Youth Theatre was first launched to give younger people who wanted to get involved with the Vane Tempest Amateur Operatic Society – now the Vane Tempest Theatre Group – their own group.
In addition to giving children and teenagers a chance to take on principal roles, it picked productions which were better suited to a younger cast.
Gillian Biffetti, who is chairman of the group and director of Les Mis, said: “Since those early days, we have seen hundreds of youngsters come through the society’s door, many of whom arrived as shy and self-conscious children, but who blossomed into confident, talented and extremely professional actors and actresses.
“The society feels proud and privileged to have watched the youngsters, over the years, through their amazing talent and sheer dedication and produce some fabulous shows.”
The group is planning to put photos from each of its shows on to its website, www.seahamyouththeatre.co.uk, and is appealing for past members to pass on their images.
Several of those who have taken part in its projects have gone on to theatrical careers, appearing in West End productions and study at colleges including RADA.
l Performances of les Miserables start at 7pm. Tickets are £7 and can be bought by calling Gordon Richardson, tel. 581 0340.