Peak Youth follows the yellow brick road

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Ruby red slippers and a four-legged friend may be missing but there will be a magical bridge and a rocket ship to take the heroes off to a happy ever after.

Fifty-two children from Peak Youth will tread the boards in The Wizard of Oz at Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Theatre next week.

Director Mike Spriggs “The Wizard of Oz is a good show for the younger ones - we have about 20 children aged 8-10 who will be playing Munchkins - as well as the older members who will be performing in roles usually played by adults.

“We have attracted a lot of new members since last year’s production of Oliver.

“I feel if they give their commitment, turn up for rehearsals, I have got to give them my commitment. The Wizard of Oz will have three specialist ballets, a bridge which revolves, have a full orchestra and be fully costumed.

“The tin man’s costume really is made of tin and is very heavy. We got it three weeks early so Kai Jackson, who plays the character, can get used to it.”

The Cowardly Lion is played by 15-year-old Sam Hall, from Matlock, and his sister, Jess, 16, plays the good witch. The wicked witch is played by Melissa Shaw, 17, who is at college in Nottingham,

Josh Holmes, 16, of Bevan Drive, Inkersall, is literally throwing himself into the role of Scarecrow. He said: “It is all about movement and if you are not careful you can go too much over the top.

“Because the Scarecrow doesn’t have a brain, you need to have the voice which is kind of an American drawl. It is quite a difficult role but I love doing it.”

Show week coincides with Josh’s GCSE exams at Staveley’s Springwell College as does a production of South Pacific, which Peak Performance launched last night (Wednesday)) at the Pomegranate Theatre and in which Josh plays the role of Buzz Adams. He said: “It isn’t a big part but I have quite a big paragraph to say at the end of the show.”

Darcy Thorpe, 14, is also taking part in both shows, this week as the French-speaking daughter of Emile de Becque in South Pacific and next week as leading lady Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

She said: “The Wizard of Oz is one of my favourite musicals. I haven’t had such a big role before and feel a bit nervous, but after the first night, I’m sure I’ll be all right.

A pupil at St Mary’s RC High School, Darcey credits her parents Simone and Barry for her love of old-fashioned shows and songs. She said: “I used to do talent shows at Newbold Primary School and sing old-fashioned dance music like Castle in the Sky - it was what my mum and dad listened to. My Mum got me into Doris Day - I love Calamity Jane .

Members of Peak Youth raised £600 at a concert to support Darcy, an Explorer and young leader with 1st Highfield Scouts. She is one of four Chesterfield teenagers who are tasked with raising £3,000 each to fund a trip to Japan where an international Scout camp will take place next summer.

The Wizard of Oz runs at the Pomegranate from Monday, June 2, to Wednesday, June 4, at 7.30pm. Tickets £12, contact 01246 345222 or www.chesterfieldtheatres.co.uk.