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School show has US debut
The New York cast of Stand Tall, a play which started life as a school play about bullying in Witney and which is now about to have its Broadway debut
A SHOW which started life as a school project in west Oxfordshire will tomorrow have its debut in New York.
Stand Tall – which just two years ago was being performed at the Corn Exchange in Witney – now has a full US cast.
Its appearance at the New York Musical Theatre Festival was touch-and-go, with the writers desperately appealing for £40,000 in the Oxford Mail a month ago.
They applied for grants, lottery funding and charities in a bid to get the play on to the stage.
Two private investors – who wish to remain anonymous – came forward at the 11th hour.
Writer Lee Wyatt-Buchan said: “It was such a close-run thing. Luckily two amazing individuals came forward and funded the project. Without them, we wouldn’t be opening in New York this week.”
The show, by musicians Mr Wyatt-Buchan and brothers Aldie and Sandy Chalmers, is a modern-day retelling of David and Goliath.
It was originally written for schools and was performed by the Stagecoach theatre group.
The show, which has a strong anti-bullying message, had a five-week run in London last year.
Its version for schools won the Diana Anti-Bullying Award in 2010 and was endorsed by the Anti-Bullying Alliance.
Mr Wyatt-Buchan, who also runs the Witchwood School of Rock, said: “To get this far, from Witney to London and now New York over a two-year period is quite astonishing. I’m very proud of the show.
“The cast are incredibly talented, as is the full production team, so I’m confident we will put on a great show.
“I just hope the American audience gets it and enjoys the production.”
Actors on board include Sweeney Todd’s Bryan Welnicki and Jill Shackner, who has appeared in Les Miserables and the Disney Channel’s Out of the Box.
Stand Tall opens on Thursday at the 45th Street Theatre for 10 days and is already sold out for the first few shows. A version for schools is still available.