YORK teenage musical theatre performer Hannah Wakelam is launching the Yorkshire’s Got Talent Virtual Contest to boost the Joseph Rowntree Theatre’s Raise The Roof campaign, with Wicked’s Elphaba among the judges.
Hannah, 19, who has appeared many times on the JoRo stage, has signed up three VIP guests to judge the event: Wicked star Laura Pick, West End regular and cruise ship vocal captain Nathan Lodge and Ripon vocal coach Amelia Urukalo.
Entries are open from now until August 1 for a contest with a £100 prize. “All types of performers are encouraged to enter and to show off what they can do,” says Hannah. “Whether it’s singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument, performing a circus act, the list is endless.”
The cost of entries is a minimum donation of £5 to the Raise The Roof appeal and no age restrictions apply. “Because of lockdown rules, entrants will be asked to submit a short video of themselves performing their acts,” says Hannah. “The winner will receive £100 and their online performances will be seen right across the Yorkshire area.”
The Haxby Road theatre needs to find £90,000 to go towards roof repairs to the Art Deco building to ensure the JoRo will be around for future generations of Yorkshire performers.
Graham Mitchell, the theatre’s events and fundraising director, says: “Hannah got in touch with us the very day that our appeal was launched and offered to do a fundraiser within the overall campaign.
“Already we’ve had lots of people express an interest in the contest and now that the judges have been announced, we expect levels of interest to take off.”
Heading up the panel is Laura Pick, from Wakefield, who was flying high as Elphaba in Wicked in the West End until the Covid-19 lockdown stopped her Defying Gravity.
Fellow judge Nathan Lodge, originally from York and no stranger to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, has many West End credits, complemented by his career as a vocal captain on cruise ships.
The third judge, vocal coach Amelia Urukalo, has experience aplenty in judging talent competitions and runs the Upstage Academy performing arts studio in Ripon.
The Yorkshire area is teeming with performing talent, not least on the Rowntree Theatre stage: a training ground and launchpad for many professional acting careers, such as Harry Potter and Broadchurch actor David Bradley, Emmerdale and Casualty actor Ian Kelsey and West End musical theatre performer Scott Garnham.
Nathan says: “I really believe that the industry is full of exceptionally talented people who started out in Yorkshire and I can’t wait to see what the future of talent from home looks like.”
The JoRo launched its Raise The Roof campaign last month by creating an online music video, put together “virtually” during lockdown. Last Saturday morning, an online fitness class raised almost £300 for the campaign.
The total stands at £2,673, more than half of the £5,000 target for this early stage of the overall £90,000 appeal. Almost 100 people have donated so far, testament to the campaign gathering momentum.
Dan Shrimpton, chair of trustees of the Joseph Rowntree Theatre charity, says: “We launched the campaign with several of our own team performing a music video, then we held an online fitness class hosted by Hannah King, which lots of our supporters took part in.
“Yorkshire’s Got Talent is the third event in a chain of many fundraisers that we already have in the pipeline. We know this competition will be hugely popular as it’s open to everyone in the Yorkshire region, whether they’ve performed at our venue or not. It’s simply a celebration of local talent, all the while supporting a great community cause.”
To launch the Raise The Roof campaign, the JoRo has set up a Just Giving page and is encouraging people to “donate even just the amount of a takeaway coffee”. To do so, go to justgiving.com/campaign/Raise-the-Roof.
The judges will select a final ten from the entries and the contest will progress from there through a process of elimination until the winner is declared.