Talented Lily’s West End hopes

Lily Taylor-Ward, 15, is to learn from the best in the West End thanks to the generosity of a youth theatre group's play to raise funds.
Lily Taylor-Ward, 15, is to learn from the best in the West End thanks to the generosity of a youth theatre group's play to raise funds.

A TALENTED teenager is set for stardom after wowing some of her stage idols to gain a prestigious place on a top West End training course.

Lily Taylor-Ward, 15, was one of just five young singers picked from hundreds of auditionees by a panel of top West End stars to join them for workshops in London – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from the best in the business.

Joy turned to tears, however, after the Friesland School pupil received the call a few weeks ago – there was no way her parents Lisa and Gary could afford the £6,500 fee.

But now thanks to the generosity of young members of a Nottingham-based drama group, her dream to become a musical theatre performer looks set to come true.

“I’ve just been overwhelmed by it,” said Lily, who started the weekly sessions last month.

“You just don’t think something like this is going to happen to someone like me.”

Lily, who leaves Friesland to go to Clarendon College, Nottingham, to study musicical theatre performance in a few weeks, is now rubbing shoulders with singers she has looked up to for most of her life.

“The first time, I was a bit starstruck,” he said.

“I can’t believe I’m working with these people. But then they just become your teachers and you start seeing them as normal people.”

When director Maggie Andrew, who had worked with Lily before, heard about her audition, she decided to do what she could to help Lily achieve her dream.

She asked her students in the Youth People’s Theatre – all aged between eight and late teens – if anyone would help and all their hands went up.

Her plan was for the 30-strong team to put on a show, which has become West End Bound – a performance of show tunes at the Nottingham Arts Theatre on June 23.

The show is expected to raise about £2,000 towards the money Lily needs. Other cash will come from sources including Ilkeston Rotary Club, for which Lily is the youngest honorary member, after placing runner-up in their competition Ilkeston’s Got Talent in 2010.

Proud mum Lisa said: “It’s like having a football session with David Beckham.

“These people are the real stars of the West End.

“All these young people are getting out of this performance is helping Lily – the support has just been fabulous.”

Lily had dreams of the stage from the age of 10 when she declared to mum Lisa that she would one day play Christine Daaé in the Phantom of the Opera.

Lisa said: “Everyone thinks their little girl it special.

“But when people who are at the top of the business tell you she’s good, you think, well, she really is special.

“Me and her dad are so proud.”

Lily, of West Avenue, Sandiacre, now faces two tough years of studying and travelling back and forth to London, but, she said, it will all be worth it.