Kings opens stage to budding actors and history buffs

SMILES Tony Bland, 45, from Southsea with his children Amelie, three, and Joshua, one.  Pictures: Malcolm Wells (120137-5550)
SMILES Tony Bland, 45, from Southsea with his children Amelie, three, and Joshua, one. Pictures: Malcolm Wells (120137-5550)

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TREADING the same boards that so many celebrities have, young Olivia Williams got a taste of what it’s like to be on stage at the Kings Theatre.

The 10-year-old, who dreams of becoming an actress, was allowed on to the stage and behind the scenes as part of the Southsea theatre’s open day on Saturday.

CONTROL Lighting operator Lee Stoddart, 62, with Olivia Williams, 10, her grandma Kathy Fountain, 74, mum Wendy Williams, 47.  (120137-5475)

CONTROL Lighting operator Lee Stoddart, 62, with Olivia Williams, 10, her grandma Kathy Fountain, 74, mum Wendy Williams, 47. (120137-5475)

During a workshop, Olivia had her face painted with stage make-up and learned the skills of stage combat fighting with bamboo canes.

Olivia, who recently joined the Kings Youth Theatre group, said: ‘I’ve been on stage before, but I’ve never had the chance to be on a professional one like this.

‘It’s cool, especially when you think about how many famous actors have been up here.’

The youngster, of Campbell Road, Southsea, visited the open day with her mum, Wendy, and her grandmother Kathy Fountain.

Kathy, 74, of Daw Lane, Hayling Island, added: ‘We come to see a lot of shows here so it’s great to be able to see what goes on backstage.’

Workshops were held throughout the day for children of all ages, ranging from dance sessions to instrument playing.

And members of the Kings Theatre Trust ran tours through the building.

Tom Aitken, 59 of Clive Road, Fratton, said: ‘I love the theatre and it’s not often you get a chance like this to see how everything works. It’s very interesting.

‘I’ve learned a lot on the tour that I wouldn’t know otherwise. It’s such an important building to the area, so it’s good to know more about its history.’

Performances by various singing groups took place in the foyer and stage make-up and costume dress was available in the dressing rooms.

Francesca Brown, nine, of Station Road, Drayton, was at the event with her nan, Susan Smith, and uncle, Colin Smith.

She said: ‘It’s been great fun.

‘I liked seeing the dressing rooms and getting to go on the stage.’

Susan, 66, also of Station Road, Drayton, added: ‘I used to watch shows up in the Gods (Gallery), in the cheap seats.

‘It was really nice to get to go up there again, but I’d forgotten how just high up it was.

‘I was much braver in those days.’