US mentors bring Glee to Carrick pupils

Published Wednesday, 30 January 2013
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Young pupils from schools in Carrickfergus are to appear for the first time at the Waterfront Hall in all-singing, all performance after coaching by some transatlantic mentors.

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Established in the 60s, the Young Americans are a performing arts group, who have appeared alongside many stars including Judy Garland, Julie Andrews and Dean Martin.

In more recent years they have been travelling across the world in a musical outreach project and have been visiting the Co Antrim town since 2005 to oversee the cross-community production.

The current touring cast range from 15 to 22 years old and work to promote understanding through educational initiatives and theatrical performances.

Over 200 young people from eight local primary schools and all four post-primary schools have taken part in the workshops run by the Los Angeles mentors, and this year is the first time that they are bringing the 'Glee' style event to the stage at the Waterfront Hall.

On Wednesday evening they will star in a "two act spectacular", with song and dance spanning different eras and musical genres.

One of the Young Americans, Steven Sturgeon, said being involved in the musical programme is the most fun he has ever had.

I love travelling all around the world with the Young Americans, working with all these different types of kids everywhere, it's the best feeling in the world

Steven Stugeon, Young American performer

He added: "They are all so willing to try new things, that's the thing that sticks out the most, this morning we all had an improvisation class and improve is all about acting on the spot, all the kids are so willing and put themselves out there."

Rachael McGahan from Carrickfergus College has been in a few productions and said she really enjoys them.

"You learn how to sing and how to dance together, how to express yourself as a person," she told UTV.

"I just love the whole experience of working with other schools and people from foreign countries."

Anna McAteer from Carrickfergus Grammar is taking part in the project for the first time and said she is excited but nervous ahead of the big night.

"I've never done anything like this before, I think it's going to be great," she said.

Amanda Irvine, head of music at Carrickfergus College said the pupils get so much out of the project.

"The experience of performing is one thing, but the thing that we notice most is the improvement in their self esteem and self confidence, we also noted a big improvement in our boys becoming involved in our school productions," she explained.

"We were able to put on Grease and have a full section of T-Birds, and we were able to do West Side Story.

"We started off as just the college and some local primary schools involved, we have expanded that over the years.

"It has grown and grown and we're really proud of our involvement with the Young Americans."

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