West Yorkshire Playhouse: Stage kids are now South Pacific adult star performers

Liam Gilbert and Gemma Durkin, who both played children in different productions 15 years ago.

Liam Gilbert and Gemma Durkin, who both played children in different productions 15 years ago.

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Two stars were just children when they first appeared in a production of South Pacific.

Now 15 years later, Gemma Durkin and Liam Gilbert have grown up to take principal roles.

At the time that Gemma, now 27, was playing Ngana at Bradford Alhambra, Liam had the part of Ngana’s brother Jerome in a Whitley Bay production.

In the LAOS version, Gemma plays the female romantic lead of Nellie Forbush and Liam is Lieutenant Cable.

He came down to Yorkshire from the North-East when he was 16 and his father Alan, a Methodist minister, took a living in Rothwell.

Liam, 23, teaches English at Bradford Academy and is also a singing teacher for the Tyne Theatre Stage School. This multi-talented man is also a magician and pianist and can regularly be found in the orchestra pit as a musical director.

Gemma, from Cleckheaton, works by day as a financial advisor for her father and loves stepping into a variety of roles on the amateur stage - though she has appeared also in Emmerdale.

“I have some friends who are professionals,” she said, “and sometimes they do the same part for two years - whereas I get lots of change.

“This particular part is one of the most challenging I have done and therefore one of my favourites. I have to sing, dance and act which doesn’t happen in every musical.

“It is an emotional roller-coaster as there are lots of dimensions to Nellie and there is an element of racism in the show.”

* South Pacific will be performed from tomorrow until Saturday, April 2 at 7.15pm (apart from Sunday and Monday).

Matinees will take place on both Saturdays at 2pm.

For tickets, call 0113 213 7700 or visit: www.wyp.org.uk

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