Harlow’s Youth Create wow judges at the London Palladium

ON Sunday 3rd March, Tomorrow’s Talent were crowned champions of the Jack Petchey Glee Club Challenge 2019 at the London Palladium. The group, who were one of 12 youth performing arts groups walked away with a £2,500 prize. Youth Create, from Harlow, placed second and won £1,200 too.

An amazing 274 young performers competed in front of a packed out theatre of 2,200 people as well as celebrity judges: West End performer and Celebrity Master Chef winner John Partridge; Actors Daniel Boys, Tamzin Outhwaite; Eurovision 2018 UK contestant SuRie; Hollyoaks’ Jessamy Stoddart; Ex-EastEnders star, Danny-Boy Hatchard; and Brenda Emmanus, BBC Arts Correspondent.

The Jack Petchey Glee Club Challenge is the largest youth Glee competition in the UK, with over 1,000 young people taking part this year. Young people aged 11-25 were encouraged to sign up to the challenge and develop their performing arts skills. The final groups had previously competed in regional finals and also taken part in boot camps, where they received free training from industry professionals. At the Grand Final a total of £5,000 was given away in prizes.

The young people of Tomorrow’s Talent are from a weekend theatre school based in Chelmsford, Essex. The school’s aim is to develop young people to work in all areas of the entertainment industry. Over the years, their students have appeared in West End shows, TV, film and have been offered places at leading UK dance and drama schools. Both of their performances at the Grand Final were original arrangements specifically created for the competition.

Second place went to Youth Create from Harlow winning £1,200. Third was Scene II Theatre School from Great Dunmow with a prize of £800. The Artistic Team prize of £500 went to Nower Hill High School, from Harrow. This was awarded to the group that the artistic coaching team felt has made the most artistic, personal and team progress throughout the programme.

John Partridge, Head Judge, said “This is my seventh year in the Glee Club Challenge. I am always so inspired. As an actor, as a performer this is what you want: inspiration…When I come here I find that inspiration and always feel uplifted. They work tirelessly to put this together, but it’s one shot, one night, that’s what I live for as well, that’s what I do in my daily life, so I come here for inspiration.”

Liz Evans, Director at Youth Create, said the best part about the programme was “seeing them actually believe in themselves, to push themselves that little bit further, to enjoy themselves and let themselves go. In the photos you can see that they’re lost in the moment. They’re not staged smiles, they’re loving it. Watching them achieve something that they never thought would be possible was just amazing.”

Elizabeth Pilgrim, Principal at Tomorrow’s Talent said of the group “They’ve worked so hard and learned so much on this journey and it’s been a real privilege to see them grow over the weeks, both in themselves and as performers. The experiences they’ve shared along the way have definitely helped to bring them closer together as a group and this really shows in their performances. However, it’s not just their performance skills that have developed; their interaction with each other and with other groups has made me very proud.”

Groups first applied to the programme in summer 2018 and 32 groups were selected to take part. They each went through boot camps where they were put through their paces by industry professionals in performance, vocals and choreography before competing in Regional Finals in Dartford, Chelmsford, Enfield and Barking.

Actor Daniel Boys, said: “This is my third year being a judge, I absolutely love it – I feel very honoured to be asked again. I just love sitting there in the audience amongst all the parents and friends, just witnessing absolutely talented kids. There’s nothing more exciting for me than seeing stars of the future and they really are stars of the future.”

EastEnders star and West End performer, Tamzin Outhwaite added: “Being a judge on the Jack Petchey Foundation Glee Club Challenge is always a yearly highlight for me because it reminds me of why I came into this industry and it reminds me how much talent is out there. I find it very difficult actually judging them because they are all winners, they’re on the Palladium stage so that’s a great head start for them. It’s yet again been very inspirational!”

Brenda Emmanus, BBC Arts Correspondent said “I love being a judge at the Grand Final of the Jack Petchey Glee Club Challenge. It really emphasises why the Arts are important. The commitment of these young people to their craft, the innovation, the creativity, the self-expression is all wrapped up in this bundle of an experience. Every year it gets better and better and there is no better way for a child to build their self-confidence than to be able to express themselves in the most creative way possible. I think it’s a great incentive for schools, it’s great for individual incentive…This event is a real reason why we need to invest in the Arts.”

Actor, Danny-Boy Hatchard went through a previous theatre programme run by the Jack Petchey Foundation which led to his acting career. He reflected “To have put the work in, I have come to a point 11 years later I can sit here and enjoy and celebrate the work that the Jack Petchey Foundation are doing seeing young people come together and perform for us to celebrate the craft of performance…If you had told me 11 years ago I would be here and experiencing all this in the London Palladium and able to celebrate with all of these guys I probably wouldn’t have believed it so I am very chuffed.”

Sir Jack Petchey, aged 93, said “This was the greatest show I have ever seen! We need to motivate young people and help them grow their talents. Seeing them reach their potential and perform at the London Palladium makes me know it was all worth it. One of our previous winners now has her own record contract so the sky’s the limit!”

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