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West End assistant musical director for Billy Elliot backs Pavilion campaign
10:00am Saturday 12th January 2013 in Latest
THE Pavilion needs to be saved – that’s the message from a former young theatre star who now works in London’s West End.
Former WOW (Weymouth Operatic Workshop) Youth Musical Theatre member, Mark Collins, 33, now lives in Ealing, London and works as assistant musical director for Billy Elliot the Musical.
He said the Pavilion, which is threatened with being bulldozed and turned into a car park, and WOW were the inspirations behind his career path.
The former Weymouth schoolboy said he was shocked to hear that the theatre could go.
He said: “Without the Pavilion and the quality of facilities it offers, there’s no way I would be where I am today, as my interest in theatre came from performing with WOW in that building, as did many other success stories from WOW and the area.”
He added: “If you’re performing in a village hall it just doesn’t have the same feeling or kudos – that’s why it’s so sad it’s happening.”
Growing up in Wyke Regis, Mr Collins attended Wyke Regis Junior School, before attending All Saints and Weymouth College.
He left the area to attend university at 18 in Cardiff before moving to Bristol to continue his studies. After working in Bristol he moved to London about five years ago and has been working in his current job, which he described as ‘definitely the best job in the West End,’ for more than two years – playing piano and conducting.
He has also musically directed shows in New York, Germany and all over the UK and worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber on his ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria?’ TV show.
During his time in WOW, among other roles, Mr Collins played the title roles in the 1992 production of Oliver and in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat in 1995 and in the same year played Lieutenant Danny Martin in Calamity Jane.
Mr Collins said that the Pavilion provided invaluable experience for young actors and improved young people’s confidence and team working skills.
He said: “The only thing that would be better is if they build a bigger theatre.”
A bigger theatre space, possibly funded by outside investment, could attract touring companies, Mr Collins said, and that would provide benefits for locals and tourists alike.
Although sympathising with the financial position of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, he added that ‘culture depends on something deeper than a balance sheet’.
He said: “I’d urge ex-WOW members and anyone that has been to the Pavilion and been involved in music and theatre in the area to get behind the campaign to keep it.”
For details of the campaign visit savethepavilion.com or see the Facebook group Save Weymouth Pavilion.