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Chance for young actors

PUBLISHED: 14:27 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 14:37 07 July 2010

Young Dereham actors and actresses could be in line to be among the first to star in a “lost gem” written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber more than 40 years ago.

Young Dereham actors and actresses could be in line to be among the first to star in a “lost gem” written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber more than 40 years ago.

The internationally famous duo penned The Likes of Us - a musical telling the story of Dr Barnardo's children's homes - in 1965 but they never released it as Oliver came out at the same time and was thought to be too similar.

The show was created when a 17-year-old Lloyd Webber received a letter from then 21-year-old Rice offering himself as a “with-it writer” and there their winning partnership was born.

The musical also contains the first couplet Rice ever wrote to Lloyd Webber's music: “Here I have a lovely parrot sound in wind and limb, I can guarantee that there is nothing wrong with him.”

Now, Rice and Lloyd Webber have teamed up with the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) and the Really Useful Group to offer amateur groups the chance to star in the musical ahead of its release to professional theatres.

Dereham Operatic Society Youth Theatre Company - renowned for its high standard of productions - is among the groups bidding to perform the show next year.

And a youth workshop covering the skills of acting, singing and movement is being held in Dereham this Sunday using material from The Likes Of Us.

It is being organised by NODA eastern region and is at Northgate High School, 10am-5pm and is open to youngsters aged seven-18.

A number of leading tutors with extensive theatre experience will be there on the day and the cost is £15.

Speaking ahead of the launch of the musical at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Lloyd Webber said: “I am absolutely thrilled that NODA is working with the Really Useful Group on The Likes of Us. It's the first show that Tim Rice and I wrote together over 40 years ago. It never made the West End stage and received its world premiere just three years ago at the Sydmonton Festival where Tim himself played the auctioneer.”

Tony Gibbs, chief executive of NODA, said: “The Likes of Us is truly unique and we're delighted that actors across the region will be able to perform it.

“This is a case of professional and amateur theatre coming together and it is my sincere hope that this will establish a new way of working in the theatre for years to come.

“The Likes of Us is a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity. The content means there are roles for adults as well as young people. I would encourage anyone interested in theatre, from acting to stage design, to contact their local amateur theatre group and get involved.”

For more information, contact Zelda Rolfe on 01603 408017 or

e-mail zeldarolfe@msn.com

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