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Tameside Youth Drama mark anniversary with fundraisers
Friday 22nd July 2016 @ 10:05 by Adam Higgins

Dukinfield-based Tameside Youth Drama is going from strength to strength after raising more than £1,000 for charities in its 30th anniversary year.

The group, which meets every Wednesday at Astley Sports College, has more than 60 members and has grown to become so popular that there is even a waiting list to join.

The group caters for five to 18-year-olds and is fresh from performing its annual summer show at Hyde Festival Theatre – which this year was Oliver.

Becci Tennant co-directed this year’s performance with Rachel Bunting.

Becci was actually in the group’s production of Oliver back in 2003 and has been with the group for about 15 years, returning from university to help run the youth group.

She explained that the group staged two charity shows in the same week of the show.

The first full production of Oliver raised money for Hope for Epilepsy and Mencap.

While a charity night days earlier raised money for pancreatic cancer, with the production celebrating Tameside Youth Drama’s 30th birthday.

“Some of the leaders got up on stage and relived some of our best performances, we had lots and lots of support and raised over £1,000,” said Becci.

This year’s production of Oliver was well supported and a fabulous production with wonderful costumes and atmospheric sets.

“We have a great wardrobe mistress and the workhouse uniforms we had were made by one of our helpers,” added Becci.

There were memorable performances by young cast members but huge praise goes to all of the cast for a wonderfully entertaining and also moving production.

This was Oliver with a real ‘Twist’ with the main character portrayed by 10-year-old Amelia Stamper, who made for a magnificent urchin under her oversized hat and who sang with such feeling and emotion it could not help but tug at the heartstrings.

Amelia, who has been a member of the group for a year and-a-half, said she’d had a lot of fun playing the part and enjoyed the challenges of the show.

Fourteen-year-old Finlay Dale played the dark and violent Bill Sykes with a brooding menace and opening song that belied his age.

Finlay, who has been with the group for around six years, with some five main parts to his name, confessed Bill was the most evil character he has had to portray to date.

“The biggest challenge was maintaining the accent, and the best part has been playing a baddie which is a big change for me,” he said.

Megan Husband, 15, from Denton, played the part of Nancy.

She enjoyed the different emotions Nancy lives through throughout the play.

She said the best thing about the group “is that it builds your confidence a lot and you always get the opportunity to do things.”

Jenelle Kenworthy was the Artful Dodger who enjoyed her character’s cheekiness. But she had plenty of praise for the group, stating: “Even if you are feeling down drama always gets you feeling up and it’s a nice place to come to.”

For Jamie Appleyard, 17, it was an emotional time as this was his last show, his age meaning he must step aside to let the new crop through.

He had been working hard on a phenomenal characterisation of Fagin for some time, not to mention spending an hour in make-up before each performance.

“It was really hard to capture the schizophrenia of Fagin as he goes from really nice back to being a horrible, shouty bad person, then back to nice and singing too,” said Jamie.

He has been with the group for around ten years and hopes to build a career in acting.

Jamie deservedly received this year’s Reporter Award for his convincing and ever-watchable Fagin.

Certificates of Merit went to many of the leading characters too who brought a memorable production to life, and without the 36 young members of the chorus, none of it would have been possible.

As the group aims to achieve new heights, the next production is fittingly Peter Pan, with rehearsals resuming at Astley in September.


By Nigel Skinner