TALENTED students have been handed the reins to entertain audiences at a popular theatre during May.
Thespians and artists from Sunderland University have been given the unique opportunity to show off their talents at the Customs House in South Shields.
The students will be staging their own programme packed full of theatre, music, dance and visual arts.
Highlights of the SunFest event include Shakespeare’s King Lear, a Hollywood night, Amnesty International’s 50th birthday, an acoustic showcase and jazz, contemporary and ballet music.
This year’s event has already received the backing of Durham-born actor Wendy Craig, whose career has seen her grace the screen and stage.
She said: “I’m delighted to support these students who are just starting out on their careers.
“I always knew I would grow up to be an actress. Acting was my passion so I know how enthusiastic these young students will be.
“SunFest is a wonderful and unique opportunity to perform before a live audience and I’m sure the experience will inspire these students onto greater things.”
Little Mix’s Jade Thirwall was a regular performer on the Custom House’s stage before she found fame on last year’s The X Factor.
She said: “I think SunFest is a great idea. Young performers get to showcase all their hard work to a live audience in such an amazing theatre, which is very close to my heart.
“It’s brilliant the audience can enjoy a taste of all the arts and I wish everyone success with the event and I hope more students will get the opportunity to take part in the future.”
Ray Spencer, Customs House executive director, said this year’s event has built on the strength of last year.
He wants to make SunFest a regular feature on the venue’s calendar.
He said: “Once again this year we are putting our faith into students to programme an exciting and eclectic mix of dance, drama, music and visual arts.
“We have no doubt they will rise to the challenge and present a mix of thought-provoking and entertaining performances for our audiences.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the students to perform in a professional environment to new audiences and we hope they’ll be able to take that experience with them into the future.”
The launch night takes place on Monday.
For a full programme of events and to book tickets, visit www.customshouse.co.uk.