Teenagers describe performing for royalty - ‘to do a dress rehearsal in front of the Queen was just surreal’

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre members Evie Carter, 15, (left) and Gemma Sangster, 19, who performed to The Queen
Chichester Festival Youth Theatre members Evie Carter, 15, (left) and Gemma Sangster, 19, who performed to The Queen
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‘I just imagined I was speaking to my mum and dad’.

Two of the stars of Chichester Youth Theatre have spoken about performing in front of the Queen today.

Evie Carter, 15, flawlessly narrated the special performance and Gemma Sangster, 19, was also among the 70-strong youth group who dazzled the audience full of dignitaries.

Evie said: ‘It was such good fun. I was really nervous backstage but as soon as I came out for the first time I forgot about all that.

‘I was looking for her (The Queen) but it wasn’t until the final song that I saw her hat. Evie was picked to welcome the Head of State, watching in the audience, to Chichester and West Sussex.

Standing alone on stage she said: ‘Your Majesty and distinguished guests, welcome to the Chichester Festival Theatre.

‘My name is Evie and I am a member of the Youth Theatre. We are the largest regional youth theatre, with over 800 members across Sussex.’

Speaking afterwards, she said: ‘I was nervous because I thought I would mess up in front of the queen but once I was standing in front of the audience I felt fine.

‘It was the first time I’ve given a proper speech, when I got out there I just imagined I was speaking to my mum and dad because I was practicing in front of them last night.’

The performance began with a Changing of the Guard march and dance routine; followed by an appearance by Oona, a life-sized elephant puppet from production Running Wild; a scene from the forthcoming Christmas production Beauty and the Beast; and the song One Brick At a Time from the musical Barnum.

Gemma said: ‘It was really good fun, it was quite nice to do a little snippet of the show (Beauty and the Beast) before it goes live and to do a dress rehearsal in front of the Queen was just surreal.

‘A lot of people reassured me by saying she’s just someone’s grandma.

‘I went out there thinking “this is a ridiculous” situation but it was so comforting to know that the whole audience just wanted us to do well, and all of the performers backstage were so supportive and happy.

‘It was a full theatre and we all clumped together and did really well.’

Two songs were also sang by the cast of the acclaimed CFT production Fiddler on the Roof, including Simbi Akande, Lucinda Lawrence, Rose Shalloo and Omid Djalili, who sang If I Were A Rich Man to great applause.

Her Majesty clapped throughout and afterwards told theatre bosses how much she had enjoyed the whole performance.