Talented Harry ready to take on the Phantom challenge

By Alison Norton | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

Young performers have such wonderful opportunities these days. Who would think at the age of just 18, you could star in the leading role of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Richard Stilgoe’s musical masterpiece, The Phantom of the Opera?

Harry Simkin from Great Wyrley is no stranger to leading roles. Photo by Kate Grace Photography

But, with the option for schools and colleges to perform youth versions of some of the West End hit shows, Harry Simkin from Great Wyrley has this amazing chance in the bag!

A student at Birmingham Ormiston Academy who is currently auditioning for London stage schools, Harry is no stranger to leading roles and has a lot of confidence and experience treading the boards even at his tender age.

It’s just a well really, as The Phantom has to be one of the most challenging roles for any male performer.

“It’s a huge sing! But I love the challenge,” said Harry. “I feel as if my vocals have grown with the role and my voice has massively improved over the rehearsal process.”

Harry is a triple threat, but there is no doubt that dance is his strongest skill. Does being a trained dancer help with this particular performance I wondered?

“Dance has definitely helped with the physicality of the role,” he said. “I have always found it easy to express myself through dance and being completely comfortable with movement allows me to fully embody the character and act with my whole body, even if I’m not dancing.”

Phantom is known for its magic tricks and special effects, but is this achievable in an am dram production?

“We have everything! Fire, magic, even the boat!” exclaimed Harry. “Its been a pleasure to be part of and learn all the tricks. The sets, make up, lighting and our masks and prosthetics are created by the amazing TTA team at BOA,” he said.


“My favourite song to sing from the show is Past the Point of No Return.” Harry continued. “It’s a very sensual, seductive song and sits perfectly in my range. My favourite scene from the show is the final lair. The three lead characters, Christine, Raoul and myself all sing together to tell the outcome of this famous story.”

The Phantom of the Opera will be flying into The Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham on March 21-23, with performances at 7pm nightly and a 2pm Saturday matinee, presented by the Year 13 musical theatre students from the Birmingham Ormiston Academy. It’s a must see!

l For tickets, visit or call the box office on 0121 359 9444.

Believe it or not, pantomime is still happening and from March 15-17, you can catch Lilleshall Pantomime Group’s production of Cinderella at Lilleshall Memorial Hall, with performances at 7.30pm nightly, a 2pm Saturday matinee and a noon Sunday matinee.


The cast of 20 is very much looking forward to the show.

For tickets priced at £6 for adults, £5 for concessions and £3.50 for children, visit or call Vicki on 079294643.

Are you a lover of songs from yesteryear? If so, why not treat yourself to tickets to With a Song in my Heart, a wonderful cavalcade of tunes and music spanning three decades, from the 1930s, 40s and 50s, presented by local mezzo-soprano, Tara Kelsey and her pianist Wayne C. Baddeley?

The duo will be presenting their concert at Cosy Hall in Newport on March 22, at 7.30pm, with all proceeds going to Newport Cottage Care Centre, a very worthy cause. Step back in time with music from the Broadway stage, radio, TV and epic film themes and showcasing the talents of Rodgers and Hart, Brodszky, Mancini and Max Steiner and even a touch of Puccini.

For tickets, priced at £10, which includes light refreshments and a programme, call 07957661222. Oh, and you are welcome to bring your own drinks.

Manor Musical Theatre Company, who perform at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall, will be presenting The Addams Family from March 19-23.

Based on the characters from the ghoulish American family with a penchant for all things macabre, created by cartoonist Charles Addams, this new musical is certainly proving a hit.

Wednesday Addams now 18, finds herself falling in love – a sensation that is unsettling for both her and her family of endearing misfits. When the teen invites her new boyfriend, Lucas Beineke, over with his normal family to get better acquainted with the Addams household, chaos ensues!

The script is witty and the score, which is both catchy and amusing, includes, When You’re an Addams, Where Did We Go Wrong? Live Before We Die and Move Towards the Darkness.

So, for an eerie evening of everything evil, but with a comedy twist, call 0121 296 9543 or visit for tickets.

Do you love Sci-Fi? Do you love Rock and Roll? If so then this show is definitely for you!

Lupin Theatre Company will perform Return to the Forbidden Planet, the Jukebox musical by playwright Bob Carlton based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and the 1956 science fiction film Forbidden Planet, at Pen Bowling Club tonight and tomorrow, so there is just time to grab a ticket.

Return to the Forbidden Planet finds a spaceship, helmed by Captain Tempest, making an emergency landing on the uncharted planet D’Illyria.

The only residents there are the mad scientist Doctor Prospero, his daughter Miranda, and their robot Ariel. They were banished into hyperspace when Miranda was just a baby and she has known no other world than this.

The score is teeming with rock and roll hits of the 1950s and 1960s, including Great Balls of Fire, The Monster Mash, Good Vibrations, Johnny Be Goode, A Teenager in Love and Wipe Out.

The B-movie atmosphere and dialogue, a roller-skating robot, unrequited love and a scary space monster, and you’ve got one crazy show!

For tickets call 07817365485 or email

Well that’s all for this week. Please email me all your news to, and remember to include good quality colour photos too. Alternatively, call me on 01902 319662 or follow me on Twitter @AlisonNorton. Break a leg!

Alison Norton

By Alison Norton

Theatre critic and unofficial 'am dram queen' for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star


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