Show must go on for theatre student Joe

Joe Hillard as Link in the Manx Operatic Society's production of Hairspray

Joe Hillard as Link in the Manx Operatic Society's production of Hairspray

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A promising musical theatre student has organised a show to help raise the £14,000 he needs so he can fund the last two years of his degree.

Joe Hillard, of Douglas, has just completed his first year of a three-year degree at the prestigious Arts Educational Schools in London.

But with annual course fees of £13,500 and government support for tuition fees capped at £6,500 the 19-year-old came up with the idea for a showcase of some of the island’s best musical talent to help fund the shortfall.

Joe, who hopes to perform in the West End, said: ‘ArtsEd is the school I have always wanted to go to and is currently regarded as the best drama school in Europe for musical theatre and I am one of only 50 students accepted in my year out of over 2,000 auditionees.

‘This is an incredible opportunity and it would be devastating that I should not be able to continue and finish my course due to financial difficulty.’

Yesterday (Wednesday) was the first evening of his show ‘A Night At the Musicals’. It continues at Ballakermeen High School’s Studio Theatre tonight and tomorrow.

As well as Joe the cast includes well-known faces in the island including Laura Pigott, Beth Magee, Dean Callow and Sarah Holland.

The finale of each half is being performed by youngsters aged five to 15 who enjoyed a two-day singing and dancing workshop led by Joe this week.

‘This show is packed full of songs from the shows, from classic favourites like Les Miserables and Cabaret to new award winning shows like The Book of Mormon, Disney’s Newsies and Once,’ he said.

There will also be a raffle on Friday night.

Joe, a former Ballakermeen student, has performed in over 12 musicals at the Gaiety Theatre over eight years alongside many charity events.

He played Link in the Manx Operatic Society’s production of Hairspray, the first amateur performance of the musical since it was performed in the West End, and he played the lead role of Joe Casey in Inspiration Theatre Company’s production of Our House.

He released a CD to raise money for charity and in 2012 was awarded Young Actor of Mann and the Heroes in the Community Award for ‘Dedication to the Arts’.

He said his ideal role would be Elder Price in The Book of Mormon: ‘I saw the show last year and it’s the best show and one of the best musical theatre male roles I’ve ever seen.’

Tickets cost £10 and are available from Ballakermeen foyer or contact Joe on 330681 or

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