Midsomer Norton-based youth theatre company, Merriman Theatre Group, last night (Sunday 28th September) wowed a sell-out audience at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London, as part of a national youth theatre gala.

26 members of the company, aged from 6 – 18, who had starred in the company’s own highly acclaimed production of CATS in the summer, recreated excerpts of the show to a fantastic reception from the packed audience at one of London’s most famous theatres.

Merriman Theatre Group was one of 12 theatre groups and dance schools from across the country, who had been invited to perform in a celebration of theatre and dance, at Her Majesty’s (home to the legendary musical Phantom of the Opera for the last 27 years). Their performance of the lively Jellicle Ball from CATS, choreographed by Nicola Paine, was given a rapturous reception as it closed the first half of the 3-hour event.

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Merriman’s director and founder Graeme Savage said “They have really done themselves proud tonight, and this has been a wonderful experience for all of them. Appearing on a stage like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the experience is something that they can take with them into later life, whether they continue performing or not. It was fantastic to see them growing in confidence throughout the day as they became more comfortable with the West End stage, and to see the cast working together and supporting each other from the youngest (aged 6) to the oldest (aged 18), was a brilliant example of what Merriman is all about. They also represented Midsomer Norton alongside companies from the Wirral, Scotland, South Wales, the Midlands and London, and were a credit to the town, not just through their performance, which was flawless, but through their professionalism and b_ehaviour behind-the-scenes, where they encouraged and supported all the other companies taking part.”

Merriman Theatre Group are incredibly grateful to have received a grant from the Rotary Club of Midsomer Norton to help cover the costs of enabling the 26 students to take part, and in getting their families to London to enjoy the performance.

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Founded in Midsomer Norton in 1998, over 400 young people have been part of Merriman over the years, developing skills in drama, music, singing and dance, building confidence through performance and workshops. There are currently almost 60 young people in the two groups (Merriman, for ages 10-18, and the Junior Company for ages 6 – 9), and the company have just begun rehearsals for their Christmas production, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, which will be performed at Somervale School in Midsomer Norton on 13th & 14th December.

Full details about the group, including information on forthcoming productions and how to join can be found at www.merrimantheatre.com