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All-DMU cast to perform Willy Russell play at Curve theatre

Students from De Montfort University (DMU) are performing at Leicester’s Curve theatre this week in Our Day Out, a much-loved musical by multi-award winning playwright Willy Russell.

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The opportunity came about as part of DMU’s ongoing partnership with Curve, giving 22 first, second and final year students at DMU the chance to work in a professional environment.

The Drama Studies and Performing Arts students are not only involved as performers, but also in roles such as stage manager and producer.

Originally written for television, Our Day Out is a celebration of the joys and agonies of growing up, based on Russell’s own experiences of school trips as a student and a teacher at his school in Liverpool.

Students got to meet Russell during the Cultural Exchanges Festival in March - famous for Blood Brothers, Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine and more than a dozen other major musicals, plays and films - who spent time talking to them and sharing advice about the performance.

Ryan Knight, a first year Performing Arts student, described the experience as “the best thing that’s ever happened” to him and although playing the part of a bully is out of his comfort zone, he welcomes the challenge.

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He said: “Getting to meet Willy Russell was both surreal and inspiring. We didn’t expect him to be so down to earth, even taking the time to make handy suggestions for our production.

“The whole cast is just excited to go on and perform to an audience now. Meeting Willy Russell has made us more determined than ever to do the play justice.”

For Stacey Brown, a second year Arts and Festivals Management and Drama Studies student, the experience as an assistant producer and cast member has proven to be a rewarding juggling act.

Stacey said: “As well as performing in the play, I’m involved in aspects such as helping to organise costumes, props and sets, as well as being responsible for scheduling our gruelling rehearsal dates.

“It’s been an absolute privilege though and an amazing experience. The entire cast and I are just impatient and excited to perform now.”

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This is Lily Shaw Morris’ second year of taking part in a Curve production, having performed in Our Country’s Good last year.

The second year Drama Studies student said: “Both opportunities have been thoroughly enriching, and it has been invaluable to experience working with two different casts and directors.

“The other day I walked past Pixie Lott in the lift and I didn't even feel out of place. That's what I love about Curve, it's an incredibly inviting environment.”

Despite the play coinciding with lots of other deadlines for Stacey, such as other productions and credited essays, she said: “It's always worth it in the end for that thrill which you get on stage. I've never felt anything else like it.”

Head of Drama at DMU, Dr Tracy Cruickshank, said: “With the play being based on the author’s own experiences, having the benefit of speaking to him during their rehearsals was priceless for the students.

“The whole experience of working on the production with the artistic team at Curve is a fantastic opportunity for them.”

Posted on Tuesday 26th April 2016

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