I HAD the great pleasure of catching up with the mightily talented Kate Graham in London last week.
Kate’s dad, Duncan, is well known for his fine choir work in Hartlepool over the years and it’s clear that his daughter has inherited some fine genes in that department.
Young Kate is making a great name for herself in music and musical theatre and she is currently appearing in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, one of the most beautiful and atmospheric theatres in the capital.
I was in the company of younger grandson William on his annual “big guys’ trip” to London and he’s already a big fan of this venue, having been here a year ago to enjoy Shrek the Musical.
The entrance foyer alone is worth a visit with its amazing view up to the dome and statues of some of the great names of English theatre.
If you’d like a bit more pedigree, the theatre is currently celebrating 350 years since the first performance here in a building which has the boast of being visited by every British monarch since the Restoration.
Just to add icing to the cake, it also has two royal boxes and is the venue where the public first heard the National Anthem and Rule Britannia!
It also gives a pang of regret to recall that we demolished the lovely Empire Theatre which once stood on Lynn Street in West Hartlepool as was.
Not quite Drury Lane, but it would have been good to have it around today.
Back to today, though, and the great pleasure of seeing Hartlepool girl Kate shine in a super cast which received a rousing ovation and repeated curtain calls from kids and happy adults alike.
We met Kate backstage afterwards and she was kind enough to show us around the superb set which produces some the best special effects I’ve ever seen.
Our photo shows Kate and William on Willy Wonka’s chocolate garden – not a bad place to be!
Clearly, Kate is loving being a big part of this show, playing key character Cherry, and having the fantastic experience of working with one of the most respected directors in the world in the shape of Sam Mendes.
As well as being an associate at the Royal Academy of Music, Kate has a biography which lists some of the biggest hits around, including Mamma Mia, Billy Elliot and Les Miserables.
Away from theatre, she has produced vocals for the likes of Westlife, Lesley Garrett and Russell Watson.
Backstage, there was a good crop of North East accents and there is quite a talent pool of people from our area making their names in London where the theatre scene brings in millions of tourist pounds every year.
If I remember rightly, the last time I saw Kate perform was during her days as a student at Hartlepool Sixth Form College when our sons were there. I’m chuffed to bits to report such a success story.
Too often, we hear of our youngsters going wrong, so how good to tell you about a local lady who is making a great name for herself in one of the most competitive professions in the world.