Ex-Springwood student from King’s Lynn to star in West End musical Shrek

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A former Springwood High School student landed himself a role in the West End production of Shrek The Musical less than two weeks after graduating from a top London drama school.

Kevin Yates, 23, has been touring the country with the production since the summer, and is now set to bring it back to his home in Norfolk in June 2015, when he will be performing at Norwich’s Theatre Royal.

“I was so lucky to get this job straight out of drama school and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. As soon as I saw Norwich on the list of tour stops I jumped out of my seat! I’m so excited to bring the show to Norfolk.

“I really want to get everyone I know from the dancing community in Lynn, and we have a very big one in this area, to come along and watch the show.”

The actor and dancer, who comes from Gaywood, will be making his professional debut with the production after he was snapped up by an agency straight out of Arts Educational Schools London.

Growing up, Kevin performed regularly in Kinetic Theatre productions at Springwood High School, before moving on to Foolights Performing Arts in 2006.

He said: “I did Kinetic Theatre’s shows religiously every year and I can’t wait to get some time off so I can go back and see what they’ve been up to.

“I hope it shows other dancers from the area that it really doesn’t matter where you come from, if you use the resources available to you and put in lots of hard work, it can happen for you too!”

Thanks to Kevin’s hard work, he is now touring the UK with the West End show with stops everywhere from Newcastle to Plymouth, the cast will reach Norwich between June 9-28 next summer.

Kevin said: It all happened so quickly for me, my life changed in about three weeks and I still have days when I’m putting on my costume or make-up and I just can’t believe how lucky I am to be doing this.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to my family, and especially my mum. I’m not from a dancing background but her support has really helped to make my dreams come true.”

Shrek the Musical tells the story of the unlikely hero who sets out on a daring quest to rescue the beautiful but emotional Princess Fiona from a fire-breathing dragon who has fallen in love with her.

The show is directed by stage and television actor Nigel Harman, who is best known for playing Dennis Rickman in EastEnders, and is no stranger to Shrek the Musical after playing the role of Lord Farquaad in the West End.

Tickets available now at www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000.

Our reporter, Lucy Ruthnum, caught up with Kevin to talk about his role in the show:

Lucy: Who will you be playing in Shrek The Musical?

Kevin: I’m actually playing a few different characters as part of the ensemble – I’m on of the three pigs, but I’ll also appear as a dancing guard, rat and one of the Doo Wop Dolls. But the bit I’m really proud of is controlling the head of the giant dragon puppet we use on stage. It’s a massive resposibility to work with, but I’m so glad it was given to me. The whole creature is manned by four puppeteers and the head has to lip synch along to a song sung by one of the girl. She’s a heavy girl, but it’s such a rush, I can’t tell you.

L: What’s it like to be part of Shrek The Musical and tour the UK?

K: The story is so well-loved and the reaction from the audiences is amazing. There’s some things that drama school cannot train you for, like being handed a timetable with “dragon rehearsals” written on it, but that’s the wonderful thing about this company. We also have lots of specialists who have been in to give us training, particularly with the dragon. We have a fantastic team of actors dedicated to making magic for the audience and they do an amazing job.

L: How is the stage show different to the film?

K: It follows the film closely in terms of the script, but the music in this show is just beautiful, it’s gorgeous! The film’s music doesn’t really feature in the show, not until the end when we do Believer and the audience just loves that bit.

L: What sets Shrek the Musical apart from the rest?

K: This show really is an all-rounder and we’ve had lots of families in with kids of all ages, it’s great to hear them all enjoying themselves. It does have something for everyone.

L: What else should we look out for in the show – any parts that stand out to you?

K: I think the design of the whole show is beautiful. The costumes, make-up and wigs are immense and you won’t be disappointed. Our technical team are just fantastic and they have really created a whole new experience. It’s a feast for the senses.