Hanley youth musical raises £5,500
TEENAGERS Tom Attwood and Elliot Clay have raised thousands of pounds for charity with a youth production of Beauty and the Beast.
Director Tom and musical director Elliot, both 18 years old, have spent the last nine months preparing for the one-off performance of the hit Disney musical.
It was staged on Friday night at the Victoria Hall, in Hanley.
Their production, which involved more than 50 young people, has so far raised £5,500 for youth cancer charity, the Joe Gilligan Trust.
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Joe, who died from a rare form of cancer in 2009, was a school friend of Tom's at St Joseph's College, in Trent Vale.
Tom, who says Joe was an inspiration to him, wanted to stage a production in his memory.
Beauty and the Beast had a cast of 27, all aged between nine and 19 years old, as well as a youth orchestra of 21, and a backstage crew of seven.
Tom, from the Westlands, said: "I've always been interested in theatre and I've been involved in smaller scale productions at school.
"But as this has been my final year, I was looking to do something a bit bigger.
"So we got the rights to Beauty and the Beast, got the Victoria Hall and put together the cast.
"This has been a genuine youth production, with young people doing everything, from the orchestra to the make-up.
"It was an absolute pleasure working with everyone on this.
"It felt like a professional production, everyone was working hard towards a common goal. There were no prima donnas at all.
"The idea of putting on the production and the idea of raising money for the Joe Gilligan Trust came at the same time.
"Joe was a few years above me at school, and I always looked up to him."
Elliot, like his friend Tom, has been involved in theatre from a young age, and has taken part in productions at Alleyne's High School, Stone, as well as at Stoke-on-Trent Repertory Theatre.
But he says Beauty and the Beast has been the biggest show he has been involved with so far.
The production, which featured a range of colourful costumes and well-known songs from the original Disney film, starred Alex Westwell as Belle and Kieron Quinn as the Beast.
Elliot, from Stone, said: "It all stemmed from Tom really. He wanted to put on this production of Beauty and the Beast and asked me if I'd like to be musical director, and I was more than happy to do it.
"It is a great musical, with some really memorable songs, like the title song, and 'Be Our Guest'.
"The night of the performance was very emotional for everyone. Joe's parents were in the audience and it was just fantastic how well it went."
Both Tom and Elliot are hoping to embark on a career in theatre. Tom is due to start a three-year course at Arden School of Theatre, in Manchester, in September, while Elliot is going on to study at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, in London.