Yorkshire’s Got Talent finale could take place on Rowntree Theatre stage if….

The Joseph Rowntree Theatre building, bathed in “emergency red” when taking part in the #LightItInRed campaign for urgent support for the theatre industry on Monday night

PLANS are afoot for the climax of the Yorkshire’s Got Talent contest to be held at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, rather than online.

The Haxby Road theatre has announced it will “hand over the stage to the contest once it is able to re-open and  many performers who will have taken part “virtually” can take centre stage in front of a live audience”.

No date has been set for such a finale, against the background of no easing of the Government’s lockdown strictures on theatres, all having been cast into darkness since mid-March.

Yorkshire’s Got Talent is being run by York teenager Hannah Wakelam, a regular musical theatre performer at the JoRo, in aid of the Art Deco building’s £90,000 Raise the Roof appeal for roof repairs.

Hannah, 19, has signed up three VIP guests to judge the event: Wicked star Laura Pick, from Wakefield, West End regular and cruise ship vocal captain Nathan Lodge, from York, and Ripon vocal coach Amelia Urukalo.

Yorkshire’s Got Talent judge Laura Pick in her West End role as Elphaba in Wicked

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.”

Hannah is hoping that, schedules permitting, the three VIP judges, will be able to attend the climax to her county-wide contest at the JoRo.  

Laura Pick was playing Elphaba in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in the West End until the Covid-19 lockdown. Nathan Lodge, no stranger to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, has many West End credits, complemented by his career as a vocal captain on cruise ships. Vocal coach Amelia Urukal has experience aplenty in judging talent competitions and runs the Upstage Academy performing arts studio in Ripon.

Yorkshire’s Got Talent contest organiser Hannah Wakelam

Determined to help the JoRo, Hannah says: “It’s because of my experience on stage at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre that I’m following my dream to be a professional performer. 

“I honestly wouldn’t be where I am now without this community venue and all it does for young talent.  This contest is just my way of saying ‘thank you’ and I’d love other young performers to learn about the opportunities they can find here.”

Hannah is running a raffle alongside the talent contest and is urging businesses or individuals to consider donating prizes.  “All donors will be credited in our publicity,” she says. “The theatre has kicked off the appeal for donations by offering theatre tokens and a framed print of the Art Deco building by artist Elliot Harrison.”

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.

Full rules and details of how to enter Yorkshire’s Got Talent can be found here:

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