Llanelli Youth Theatre gear up for 40th anniversary concert

Members of Llanelli Youth Theatre (LYT) are getting ready for what promises to be an extra special 40th anniversary concert this weekend.

LYT will be staging ‘LYT @ 40’ at Ffwrnes Theatre in Llanelli on Saturday, June 1.

The event is billed as a spectacular concert commemorating four decades of artistic brilliance and celebrating the profound impact the group has had on the performing arts in Llanelli.

Past and present members will join for a celebration of LYT’s previous productions and a glimpse into its future.

Joining LYT will be the company’s president, star of the West End and Broadway, John Owen-Jones.

John is a record-breaking actor and singer best known for his critically-acclaimed and award-winning performances as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables and as The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera.

John remains the youngest actor in West End history to have played Jean Valjean in Les Misérables (a role he also played twice on Broadway) and has performed as the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera nearly 2000 times – more than any actor in the show’s entire West End run.

Founded in 1984, LYT was established by a band of youngsters with a passion for performing.

Jill Stevens, the group’s administrator and founding member, said: “The view for establishing the group was an amateur setting with professional training and attitude. Its aim was to present quality drama, while at the same time involving young people.

“We started as a really small group and over the years it has gradually built and now thousands of students have been a part of it.”

This ethos of providing budding young performers with professional training is something that the company continues to pride itself on and the formula seems to be working as scores of former students have progressed to the most esteemed drama schools in the country.

Jill added: “Thousands of students have come and gone over the years and so many of them have gone on to greater things. The group really sets them up for a career in the arts. We have had graduates from RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art), Bird College and Drama Centre London.

“We have had students who have been series regulars on television shows, stars in West End productions and students who have moved over to the production sides of things – producing and directing for the National Theatre and the BBC.”

And this seems to only scratch the surface with the theatre group known for producing quality talent.

Its impressive alumni includes Trimsaran-born actor Trystan Gravelle, who starred in ITV’s Mr Selfridge and BBC’s Baptiste, as well as National Theatre director Julia Thomas and West End School of Rock star Catherine Morris.

But as well as preparing young people for a career on the stage or on screen, organisers maintain its main aim is to provide young people with a safe environment they can express themselves and develop essential skills.

Jill continued: “The majority of students don’t go into careers in the industry but learn invaluable skills that they can transfer through to their adult life.

“We are committed to building confidence, communication skills and working with others and we have had so many students who have walked through the doors shy and then left as a completely different person.”

In September, LYT will be staging Stephen Sondheim’s Tony award-winning musical Sweeney Todd.

Tickets – https://carmarthenshiretheatres.ticketsolve.com/ticketbooth/shows/873643113/events/128513726/seats

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