Paperboy Cast Announced in Belfast

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Youth Music Theatre UK (YMT) the leading music theatre company for young people, announces the cast for their brand-new musical adaptation of Tony Macaulay’s Paperboy, to be performed at Lyric Theatre Belfast 26-29 July. The cast includes 35 talented performers aged 11-19 years, including 19 aspiring performers from the Island of Ireland, 9 from Scotland and 7 from England.

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Paperboy is produced and commissioned by Youth Music Theatre UK (YMT) and presented in association with Lyric Theatre Belfast and commissioned with funding from Arts Council Northern Ireland.

Adapted from Tony Macaulay’s internationally acclaimed memoir, Paperboy tells the story of Tony, a 12-year-old boy, growing up against the gritty backdrop of 1970s Belfast. Creative duo, writer-comedian Andrew Doyle and Belfast singer-songwriter Duke Special, have captured in the making of the musical a vivid tapestry of Belfast and Tony’s world – one full of Rock Music, Doctor Who and youthful energy – recreating the vibrancy, comic timing and sense of discovery that is so enjoyed in the memoir. Directors Steven Dexter and Dean Johnson have been working closely with the cast to develop a feel for the era.

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Rehearsals began on the 9th July and the production will come together in just three weeks. Young people were selected by Youth Music Theatre UK from their national auditions tour earlier this year, where over 1,000 young people auditioned across the UK and Ireland to join the company. Special auditions were held on Shankill Road to draw in young people from the local area where the book is set. Auditions were also held on the Falls Road.

Young Tony (Paperboy) and his girlfriend Sharon are to be played by Sam Gibson from Killinchy, Co. Down and Erin Ryder from Laghey, Co. Donegal.

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Author of paperboy, Tony Macaulay said:

“I’m excited to see Paperboy on stage at the Lyric. I can’t wait to see and hear how Duke Special and Andrew Doyle have adapted the book into a musical. I expect I’ll feel quite emotional the first time I see the talented cast of young people performing my story on stage.”

Jon Bromwich, Executive Producer Youth Music Theatre UK, added:

 “Youth Music Theatre UK has trained and nurtured over 8000 up-and-coming young performers, musicians and creatives, and produced over 80 new musical works of the highest quality. Our prestigious alumni includes Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. Sam took part in our 2007 production in Belfast. This year we are delighted to present the extraordinary new musical production of Tony Macaulay’s Paperboy, from a top-flight creative team, as part of our 15th anniversary season.”

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Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added:

The Arts Council is delighted to support this production of Paperboy  at the Lyric Theatre through National Lottery funding.  It is vitally important that young people here are given opportunities to broaden their creative experiences and, to perform on the stage of the Lyric Theatre will be an experience that stays with them throughout their lives.  Youth Music Theatre UK has assembled an impressive creative team and I would encourage everyone to go along and enjoy.”

The YMT Company of 2018 is made up of 300 talented young performers and musicians. YMT offers young people the opportunity to work with exciting composers, established directors and innovative movement specialists, developing the music theatre of the future. YMT’s aim is the personal and creative development of young people through the creation and performance of music theatre. Paperboy continues Youth Music Theatre UK and Lyric Theatre Belfast’s successful partnership.

For booking details visit Lyric Theatre Belfast Ticket Booking Link: https://lyrictheatre.co.uk/event/paperboy  and for details on Youth Music Theatre UK: http://www.youthmusictheatreuk.org

Stories from Uganda: A Leader with Vision

This is the story of Rev Robert Mugume, a leader with a vision to transform lives and his local community.

Robert (50) is the Regional Bishop for Ibanda with the Full Gospel Churches of Uganda, a pentecostal denomination. He grew up in the village of Birongo III in Ishongororo and married Mrs Jolly Nabasa Mugame. They have five children and two adopted children. He began serving as a pastor in 2001. While Robert was studying Theology at Glad Tidings Bible College he was inspired to work for the development of children. He developed a vision to start a school in his local community where children could have a quality education. He says his vision is to raise children holistically by supporting their physical, spiritual and educational development. In 2005 his vision became a reality when he started Birongo Primary School with 120 pupils. He connected with Fields of Life to assist with the construction of the school and today the school has grown to 530 pupils. As the partnership with donors from Northern Ireland continued a new vision developed to start a school in Ryamugwizi. This vision also became a reality.

Ryamugwizi Primary School is the school supported by the REAP Project that I’m visiting this week. It now has 310 pupils.

In partnership with Fields of Life and donors from Northern Ireland Robert has also established two primary schools in the neighbouring district of Kiruhura; Ulster Farmers & El Shaddai. Projects have been supported to drill boreholes and protect natural wells in the school communities (see yesterday’s blog) to ensure the community has clean water so that children remain healthy to attend school.

‘As a leader,’ says the Bishop, ‘I feel proud and thankful for the partners and donors from Northern Ireland.’

In the Birongo school they have built dormitories for children to enhance their access to education. Fields of Life has also gifted livestock and sewing machines to parents to enable them to generate income so that they can earn money to pay for their children’s education themselves.

‘I’m seeing the vision I had in 2001 now become a reality’, says Robert, ‘Lives and communities are being transformed.’

When I ask Robert how it feels to see his vision become a reality he smiles and says, ‘I thank God. I’ve seen transformation in the lives of the orphans and vulnerable children we are supporting.’

Robert is delighted to see children from the schools now becoming teachers, nurses and students at university.

Of course visionary leaders like Robert Mugume do not stop when one vision becomes a reality, so I ask him about his latest vision for the future. He does not hesitate to respond. He wants to see the children from the schools become successful in life. He wants them to aspire to be doctors, engineers, lawyers and bishops.

He has a vision for a secondary school in the region with the same ethos. He also wants to establish a vocational school for young people who cannot go to university so that they can gain practical skills for work. In addition Robert wants to establish income generating projects, such as businesses and farming, so that each school will raise funds to sustain itself and Robert’s vision will be secured for the future.

I have no doubt that this determined leader will see his vision sustained. Once again on my visit to Uganda I am inspired by hearing the story of a visionary leader creating hope and transformation in his local community.