Belfast Telegraph

Ulster youth theatre group stuns London audience of 8,000 with routine

By Jane Hardy

This is the next generation of Northern Ireland’s theatre stars going down a storm at a sell-out gig in London.

The youngsters from the Belfast-based Music Theatre 4 Youth (MT4Uth) group received rapturous applause after taking centre stage at London’s O2 venue this week.

The budding stars were part of a UK-wide line-up which performed in the opening ceremony of a week-long event focusing on vocational training, run by World Skills International.

And they got a taste for the excitement of performing for a packed house after the 8,000 tickets available for the opening concert sold out for £20 each.

The group of 40 performed a popular number from Riverdance and the programme also included a version of Snow Patrol's classic ballad Chasing Cars.

Jessica Keely (18), excited after the group had got an enthusiastic reception from the capacity audience, said: “It was a really good experience and amazing to perform the Riverdance number in front of so many people. It was just really enjoyable.”

As Music Theatre 4 Youth director Jenny Cooke explained, the performers succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

“We arrived, with chaperones, on Saturday and since then have been in rehearsal. The place is buzzing and our 40 singers and dancers, most of whom will be appearing in West Side Story next week in Belfast, have been selected to front this show.”

They were chosen after MT4Uth was contacted by the Department of Employment and Learning which wanted choirs representing all the regions in the UK to sing at this prestigious concert. Jenny said: “I explained that we weren't a choir, but a musical theatre group, so they sent someone over to see us in September and we were chosen nonetheless.”

Emmet Stewart (18), from Strabane, said the Riverdance and Snow Patrol arrangement worked well.

He added: “I've been with Music Theatre 4 Youth since I was 16 and I want to turn professional and dance in the West End. I’d love to be in the chorus of Wicked or We Will Rock You. You can't be nervous when you’re onstage, even with a big audience, because of your training.”

You can see Musical Theatre 4 Youth in action during the Belfast Festival in West Side Story from October 25-30 at May Street Church.


  • Music Theatre 4 Youth (MT4Uth) was set up in February 2005 to provide a ‘musical in a weekend’ workshop for 80 young performers.
  • It is a charity which brings top level theatre professionals from the West End over to provide training.
  • Graduates include Jayne Wisener and Niamh Perry.
  • Notable productions include a highly praised version of Godspell and a performance of Aladdin at Belfast Central Station.

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