Students prepare for razor sharp performance

With two weeks to go until their final performance, second year Level 3 Performing Arts students at New College Durham are making sure their acting skills are razor sharp for their forthcoming production of Sweeney Todd.

The production tells the story of Benjamin Barker, now Sweeney Todd, who returns to London after hard years in exile for a crime he didn't commit, to find his wife deceased and his daughter in the hands of the evil Judge Turpin. In his anger, Sweeney goes on a murderous rampage on all of London. With the help of Mrs Lovett, he opens a barber shop in which he lures his victims with a charming smile before casually ending their lives with a flick of his razor.

18-year-old Performing Arts student Lewis Pattison, who lives in Durham City, will play the lead role of Sweeney Todd. He said: “I was attracted to the challenges this role would present, and I wanted to ensure my final performance was the best yet.  Thanks to the performing arts tutors, the rehearsals are so professional, it’s like being in a professional company.”

Lewis has accepted a place at the London College of Music for September, studying BA (Hons) Musical Theatre.  He said that the course at New College Durham has been amazing preparation for working in the industry and feels like he is ready for London; Lewis hopes to make it to the West End or Broadway as a professional actor.

Charlie Moore, 17, will play the lead female character Mrs Lovett; describing the role she said: “My character is based more on the theatre version rather than the film.  I play Mrs Lovett as eccentric and comedic, and more insane than dark. It is a very different role for me and it is making me step out of my comfort zone. During rehearsals we are treated like professionals and we are expected to act like a professional so it’s excellent preparation for our future career.”

Charlie said about the Performing Arts course: “I absolutely love the course here, it has given me confidence, a lot of skills and amazing friends. The tutors tell us how it will be and give us great advice to prepare us for the industry.” Charlie will study Level 3 Dance at New College Durham in September, to add to her skills, and then hopes to go to ArtsEd in London to study Musical Theatre.

The Performing Arts students have had an intense rehearsal schedule under the direction of tutors Lauren Pitt and James Hedges.  Lauren, who has a theatre, film and TV background, said: “It’s not a usual show that you would choose for a college performance due to the intricacy of the score, however, the students are extremely hard working and this production will challenge them in a number of ways. It is an opportunity for them to showcase their abilities and demonstrate the talent coming out of the North East.”

James, who has a musical theatre background, said: “This is more than just a performance, it is an experience. Our students have toiled with Stephen Sondheim’s numbers and made them their own. It is going to be a great performance!”

Performances will take place in the Drama Studio at New College Durham on 6, 7 and 8 June 2017 at 7pm, with a matinee at 2pm on 8 June. Tickets are available from the college or by ringing 0191 375 4068. Adults are £7 and concessions £5 (due to the content of the show, parental caution is advised and it is not recommended for under 14s).

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