Staithes man stars in West End musical

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A STAITHES man has begun his role starring in a West End hit musical.

After a successful audition, Chris McGlade (46) has landed the part of boxing coach George in box office sensation Billy Elliot The Musical.

Jeff Loy and Chris McGlade

Jeff Loy and Chris McGlade

Eighteen months of training at Sleights-based Northac International Theatre School brought Mr McGlade from relative obscurity to stardom.

In the past he has performed in pantomimes, the Edinburgh Festival, TV commercials, TV shows, The Weakest Link where he had great rapport with Anne Robinson and singing duets with guitar legend Walter Trout in both England and America.

And as a stand-up comic he has also played in Hollywood at the prestigious Comedy Store, Laugh Factory, and the LA Improv.

But his overriding love, however, is as a theatre actor, so playing George in Billy Elliot is a fulfilment of this dream.

Northac’s principal, Jeff Loy said: “I was delighted when Chris rang me with the news.

“I knew from the first moment that he had that special something and told him so.

“He is an accomplished comedian in his own right and so a major ingredient, that of timing, was already there when he started the course.”

Jeff headed down to London last month to see Billy Elliot The Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre.

The musical which has won a host of accolades is based on the 2000 film, with music by Sir Elton John.

The plot revolves around motherless Billy, who trades boxing gloves for ballet shoes and the story of his personal struggle and fulfilment are balanced against a counter-story of family and community strife caused by the UK miners’ strike from 1984 to 1985 in County Durham, in Northern England

“Chris fitted the part so well,” he added.

“You would have thought he’d worked the West End for years. The guy has retained his easy going friendly manner and it was a delight to find him waiting at the stage door for a chat.”

With a hectic schedule of eight performances per week, Chris is set to hold on to the role for 12 months.

The last five years have seen three Northac students accepted by the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, while 17 places have been offered by London theatre schools or university acting courses.

Other success stories are that of several dozen who have worked in television. Examination successes at the theatre company stand at 96%.