A DANCER who was once told he was too fat to attend stage school is returning home as a professional performer.
Two years ago, the Echo revealed that Joshua Franciosy’s dreams were shattered when he was told he weighed too much to become a stage star.
Determined to prove his critics wrong, the Pennywell 22-year-old went on to shed six stone and, weighing in at 10 stone, was accepted at top London performing school Urdang Academy – a year after he was turned down because of his weight problem.
After years of hard training, the former Pennywell School pupil took to the stage for one of his first professional dance roles – at the Sunderland Empire pantomime.
“It’s crazy to think that I went to London to chase my dreams and have ended up having success at home,” Joshua told the Echo.
As one of the principal dancers in Peter Pan, which opened last night, Joshua is one of the show’s leading dancers and also has an acting role in the pirate crew.
It’s a chance for his family and friends to see what’s he’s learnt at one of the country’s leading stage schools.
Joshua’s skills also saw him snapped up as one of the backing vocalists in this year’s Britain’s Got Talent.
“I had a really great experience on Britain’s Got Talent, meeting all the stars,” he said.
“It was hard at first adjusting to London life, but I’m used to it now.
“The first two years of the course have been strictly dance, but in this third year we’re doing much more musical theatre.”
Joshua has enjoyed final rehearsals for Peter Pan, and says being so active has helped him to turn his life around.
“It has made me so much fitter and stronger,” he added.
“I’m doing acrobatics now which I would never have been able to do before I lost the weight – it’s crazy.”
Speaking about his initial decision to lose weight, he said: “I went to auditions at a few schools in London, including London Studio Centre and Urdang, and was turned down because of my weight.
“I was determined and wanted to prove them wrong, so I did a one-year dance degree at Newcastle College and lost all the weight.”
He added: “I hope I can be an inspiration to other young people who may be struggling with their weight.
“I hope they can look at me and think ‘if he can do it, so can I’.”