YOUNG thespians are supporting The Chronicle campaign to reopen Chester’s Gateway Theatre.
Castaway Youth Theatre staged productions at the theatre for almost a decade, including its final production at The Gateway in 2007, which was the Gilbert and Sullivan classic The Pirates of Penzance.
Castaway spokeswoman Vicky Titmuss said the Gateway was the only theatre in the region to have the full staging facilities to perform a professional show.
Next year the 100 or so young people of Chester, Ellesmere Port and the surrounding area “may be robbed of the opportunity to stage their show due to the shortsighted vision of our council”.
Castaway Youth Theatre is a charity originally formed to give children up to the age of 21 the opportunity to experience performing arts, a provision which Vicky described as “sadly lacking” in the Chester area.
Vicky said: “Everyday we hear of the problems caused by the youth in this area, yet this fantastic youth theatre which is run completely by volunteers, attracts many, many children from Chester. Our children need somewhere suitable to perform and the Gateway is the only venue. We would urge everyone in Chester to support it’s re-opening.”
She said the youth of Chester wanted to be heard in the debate about the reopening of the theatre and know, should it reopen, the Castaway shows will have the “massive audiences they always attract”.
Castaway has developed a reputation as one of the best youth theatres in the north. It was formed in 1999 with the aim of offering young people in the area of Chester, Wirral and North Wales the chance to become involved in the performing arts.
Since its formation, several shows have been produced, including such regulars as The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan and Oliver! to the glitter and glamour of Copacabana and arguably the world’s number one rated musical, West Side Story, the latter two receiving accolades from critics and audiences as being on a par with professional productions.
Cast members have changed during the years and many are now using their skills at new levels.
The best known former member is Warren Sollars, winner of Channel 4’s Musicality, which allowed him to perform in Chicago in the West End and gained him a full scholarship to the Laine Theatre Arts College.
Former member Phillip Cross completed a 12-month tour as Benjamin in Bill Kenwright’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Others have gained entry to Mountview, Centre Stage and Sylvia Young stage schools.