Show treat for youngsters

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A WEST END star dropped in on rehearsals at a local college to lend sound advice to students ahead of their musical production.

Based on the original Broadway show, Springhead sixth formers are gearing up to perform A Touch of Hairspray at the YMCA on March 31 and asked local lad Ben Ellis to share his own experiences.

Ben, 22, has a strong hold of the musical having starred as teenage heart-throb Link Larkin in the West End production from 2007-2009.

He said: “When my dad told me Springhead School were doing Hairspray I really wanted to come in and see the kids. I sang a Robbie Williams duet with a young lad who is playing my part in their production, I was nervous, he was so good! These kids are an inspiration to me, and it was so nice to see how happy they were singing the songs from Hairspray!”

Sixth form teacher Helen Kirk said the students were delighted to see Ben and that even the teachers came away with their own memorabilia.

She said: “The students wrote to Ben and asked if he would share his experience and answer questions on what it was like to perform in the big West End shows. He very kindly came and did a duet with Graham Jordan, then Ben watched a couple of our songs from Hairspray; Mama, I’m A Big Girl Now and You Can’t Stop The Beat. The students were all very excited and busy all morning, when he came in they were enthralled and thrilled to see him.”

“Ben was wonderful and spent so much time with them, he spoke to individuals and everyone had their photo taken individually, including the teachers!”

The students have all been involved on and off stage since rehearsals started in January and Mrs Kirk added that their efforts exceeded all expectations.

“The pupils have been putting their heart and soul into it and taking part in something that they wouldn’t normally do,” said Mrs Kirk. “Everyone had a role to play; some performing, others behind the scenes, making props, scenery, costumes. They continually impressed us with their approach towards performing, they’ve surpassed all our expectations, we’re very pleased with them, it’s been incredible.”