West End classic Les Miserables coming to Batley in honour of MP Jo Cox

The West End production of Les Miserables is coming to Batley.

The West End production of Les Miserables is coming to Batley.

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It is a musical that has been seen by 70 million people across the globe and one that was a personal favourite of the late Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox.

Now, a special performance of Les Misérables will take place in Batley - and organisers are looking for local young people to make up its cast and crew.

Batley MP Jo Cox was murdered last June.

Batley MP Jo Cox was murdered last June.

Jo Cox Professional West End director Nick Evans will stage a production of the School Edition of the musical in Blakeridge Mill this summer.

The show, which is being backed by current MP Tracy Brabin and Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Sir Gary Verity, will be performed entirely by youngsters and will celebrate and commemorate the life of Mrs Cox.

Ms Brabin said: “This is a phenomenal opportunity for Batley and Spen and I know our young people are going to grab it with both hands.

“It’s no secret that I’m incredibly passionate about the arts and the career opportunities they bring. Culture can be a powerful force for change.

“It doesn’t matter who you pray to, what clothes you choose to wear, the colour of your skin – when you’ve a play to get on, that’s all that matters.

“I hope participating in this will be an enriching and enlightening experience, a confidence booster and potentially for some, the first step in a long and fulfilling career in the arts.”

Mr Evans plans to bring together some of the best theatre professionals in the West End world to create the show, which organisers say will be “beyond anything Yorkshire has ever seen”.

He will be working with the newly-formed Batley and Spen Youth Theatre group as well as other local organisations. And he is calling on young people in Kirklees to audition and get involved.

Singing, dancing and acting roles are up for grabs as well as off-stage positions including crew, designers, costume makers and stage managers.

Mr Evans, who has worked on West End shows including Mary Poppins, Billy Elliot and Jesus Christ Superstar, said: “To make this amazing we are looking for brilliant youngsters.

“We are making an impassioned call on all young people between the ages of 13-19 to get involved and tell us what they have to offer.

“You might be happier sewing costumes than singing a solo. You might be happier selling programmes than standing on a barricade. Whatever you want to contribute, we need you to be involved.

“This is an event that will change Batley and Spen forever - and it might just change your life into the bargain.

“Les Misérables is a piece about change, passion, and standing up for who you are so it is no surprise that it was the favourite show of Jo Cox MP, who was so tragically taken from us last summer. But without you, it can’t happen.”

The event already has the support of Binks Development Ltd, which has loaned the Mill to Batley and Spen Youth Theatre for the staging of the show, and Les Misérables producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who has granted the group the rights to perform the School Edition of the show.

Mrs Cox’s family are also backing the production project. Her sister Kim Leadbeater said: “The performance of Les Mis at the heart of Jo’s constituency using local children will be something she would have been very proud of.

“It is very touching and well thought out and our family would like to thank all involved.”

Anyone who is interested in working alongside industry professionals to take part in the show is invited to attend a workshop and audition weekend on March 11 and 12 at St Mary’s Social Club and Parochial Hall, Melton Street, Crossbank, Batley.

Les Miserables Q&A

CAN I AUDITION?

Organisers say that this is an opportunity for local young people aged between 13 and 19.

‘Dedicated and passionate’ youngsters are invited to take part, whether they are an experienced performance or a complete beginner.

WHAT CAN I AUDITION FOR?

Singing, dancing and acting roles are up for grabs as well as off-stage positions including members of the lighting and sound crew, designers, costume makers, runners and stage managers.

WHEN AND WHERE ARE THE AUDITIONS?

The auditions are taking place on Saturday, March 11 and Sunday, March 12 at St Mary’s Social Club and Parochial Hall, Melton Street, Crossbank, Batley, WF17 8PT.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN?

The audition weekend will be an opportunity to get to know the show and meet the 100 people who will be working on it including musicians, choreographers, directors and designers who have worked on West End shows including Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia and Mary Poppins, as well as Les Mis.

WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING?

Performers will need to wear comfortable clothes to move around in. Anyone who wants to get involved offstage is asked to take along an item that they feel represents something they are good at to talk to organisers about themselves and what they have achieved. People are also asked to bring a packed lunch and bottle of water.

HOW DO I GET INVOLVED?

Anyone who is interested in auditioning needs to send their full name and contact number to info@hearthepeoplesing.com and await further information.

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