Matt proves to be a real leading man

Matt Turnbull
Matt Turnbull

AN actor who starred on TV in a well-known children’s drama has stepped into the breach to help the show go on for an amateur group.

Matt Turnbull, who has appeared in BBC show Byker Grove as well as various theatre productions, answered the call to play the lead role in Hartlepool Stage Society’s production of The Sound of Music.

The 34-year-old will play Captain von Trapp in the group’s production, which will run at Hartlepool Town Hall, in Raby Road, from Tuesday to Saturday next week.

The group appeared in the Hartlepool Mail in January and had feared that the show may have to be cancelled after the man originally lined up for the part dropped out.

Now trained actor Matt, who lives in Seaton Carew, will tread the boards after a four-year break from the stage and is relishing his role.

He has drawn comparisons between working alongside the amateur dramatic group and his professional acting.

Matt said previously he was free to learn his lines and concentrate on his acting in the days when he was cast as photographer Kieran in Byker Grove in 2005 and also as a record store owner in the show.

But now he has to juggle learning his script for The Sound of Music with his full-time job as a performing arts teacher at Grangefield School, in Stockton, as well as bringing up his two sons, Dylan, six, and five-year-old Ben.

Matt, who is married to practice nurse Kelly, 34, said: “Working alongside a company like Hartlepool Stage Society is unbelievably different to the working style of the professional companies I have worked with over the years but I am honoured and humbled by the attitude, work ethic, passion and skill of those without professional training or credit.”

He was asked to take up the role by his former Hartlepool Sixth Form College lecturer, Jean Williams, a member of the society, and said he could not refuse after she had provided him with “amazing mentorship and guidance” in his early acting days.

As well as preparing for the show, Matt, who will also play Fleshcreep, in Jack and the Beanstalk, at Billingham Forum this Christmas, is also gearing up for a gruelling 24-hour bike ride in aid of the Butterwick Hospice on May 12, as previously reported in the Mail.

The Sound of Music starts at 7pm each night with a 2pm Saturday matinee and tickets, costing £10, can be obtained from the theatre box office on (01429) 890000.