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Unlucky break for young panto star

PUBLISHED: 11:43 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:45 04 December 2017

Ayrelia O’Leary-Leeson, 12, who was looking forward to being in Sheringham Little Theatre’s upcoming production of the Wizard of Oz, has has cast signed by Coco the monkey. Picture: Richard Batson

Ayrelia O’Leary-Leeson, 12, who was looking forward to being in Sheringham Little Theatre’s upcoming production of the Wizard of Oz, has has cast signed by Coco the monkey. Picture: Richard Batson

Archant

A schoolgirl actress rehearsing for a panto role has found herself in the wrong kind of cast – one that is healing a broken arm.

Twelve-year-old Ayrelia O’Leary-Leeson has has her cast signed by Sheringham Little Theatre panto star Coco the monkey. Photo: RICHARD BATSONTwelve-year-old Ayrelia O’Leary-Leeson has has her cast signed by Sheringham Little Theatre panto star Coco the monkey. Photo: RICHARD BATSON

Young Ayrelia O’Leary–Leeson was looking forward to being in Sheringham Little Theatre’s upcoming production of the Wizard of Oz.

She had already learned songs and dances for roles as a ‘Strictly’ dancer, a flying monkey and a lifeboatman as one of the team of local youngsters drafted in to support a professional cast.

But instead of stepping into the spotlight, she tripped over a goalpost at school just two weeks before curtain up – and ended up in A&E instead of the land of Oz.

The 12-year-old Sheringham High School student said: “I was really looking forward to being in my third panto, so I am really disappointed.

“We were just starting to learn the acting parts in rehearsals when I fell over running backwards going to a PE lesson and I knew it was bad because of the angle of my wrist.”

Ayrelia, from Plumstead, near Holt, spent 48 hours in hospital and is now set for another month in a cast to recover.

It was a joint decision by her family and the theatre to drop her from the on-stage team.

Director Nick Earnshaw said: “It was a really difficult decision because Ayrelia is such a strong and popular member of the cast. We have joked that she took the old acting good luck message of ‘break a leg’ too literally.”

Ayrelia dropped into rehearsals at the weekend to wish her friends in the panto team well, and to have Coco the monkey puppet sign her cast.

She has appeared in the venue’s Peter Pan and Cinderella pantos and a youth production of the Mikado and is determined to bounce back in 2018 to audition for Bugsy Malone and next year’s pantomime.

Preview shows begin on Tuesday with the main run of the The Wizard of Oz starting on December 9th and going through to New Year’s Day. For tickets and information contact Sheringham Little Theatre on 01263 822347 or visit www.sheringhamlittletheatre.com

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