Derby girl heads for the bright lights

A Derby High School student has secured the lead female role in a West End musical from the National Youth Music Theatre

Caroline Whittingham, 15, from Derby High School has been cast as Kate Cavanagh in the show ‘Prodigy’ which is being performed by the National Youth Music Theatre in London this summer. The show centres on five finalists at the Young Musician of the Year awards and Caroline’s character is expected to win the competition.

Twenty-five cast members have been selected from 1,000 budding performers who auditioned to win a place with NYMT. In last year’s NYMT production, ‘The Hired Man’, Caroline was one of the cast members but did not have a lead role. She will be taking to the stage at St James Theatre between 12-15 August and will be following in the footsteps of a host of actors who started their careers with NYMT, including Jude Law, Jonny Lee Miller and Matt Lucas.

Caroline said: “When I auditioned they asked me to read for the part of Kate. I was shocked when I found out I had got the role, I couldn’t really believe it, it was amazing. I’ve got my GCSEs coming up so I will be concentrating on them first then I will have time to focus on learning my lines.

“It could definitely open up doors for me as last year we were told that there were 40 agents in the audience. Other young actors have got work on the back of performing with NYMT, an actor who I worked with in last year’s production is now part of the UK ‘Bugsy Malone’ tour.”

Last year, Caroline performed in six shows in front of a 200-strong audience and had to adopt a Geordie accent. “I thought I would just be in scenes where I had lines,” she said, “but because I had my flute I ended up being in most scenes. I had to speak in a Geordie accent and we had a dialect coach come in and she said my accent was fine so it must have been OK. It was amazing to take part in such a professional performance and really fun to be a part of it.”

Headteacher Denise Gould said: “We are thrilled to hear that Caroline has secured this lead part, combining her skills both as an actor and as a musician. Caroline is immensely talented and it is fantastic to see her talent recognised by the NYMT with another opportunity to perform with them.”

National Youth Music Theatre was founded in 1976 by director and playwright Jeremy James Taylor and since its inception has produced more than 50 productions at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, premiered 30 new musical theatre works and had runs in the West End and Broadway.

Photo courtesy of NYMT

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