Ballet dancing waiter from Sheringham lands Covent Garden role

He is a tea room waiter who should be nimble-footed among the tables, because he is an up and coming ballet dancer.

And 16-year-old Tom Withington's cup is running over after he landed a spot in a show being staged at London's Covent by TV choir supremo Gareth Malone.

On Sunday July 22 Tom's dream will come true for the ballet dancing barista who has two parts in the Hot House opera and dance production by Mr Malone of Military Wives and The Choir fame.

The show, on the venue's 2,000-plus seater main stage, will feature professional opera singers, as well as dancers from the Royal Ballet and 150 young artists from all over the country.

Tom, who spends his spare time serving up lattes and cappuccinos at the Mulberry Tearooms in his native Sheringham, was one of just 19 students chosen from a total of 400 who auditioned for a place at the prestigious Dance East Academy, which provides training to exceptionally talented dancers aged 10 up.

The former Aylsham High School student, who took up ballet at the age of three, has since thrown himself into dance with a passion, travelling to either Norwich or Dance East's headquarters at Ipswich six times a week for training.

'It is a massive commitment and although it is hard at times not being able to do the things my friends do, just realising how much I enjoy it when I turn up for rehearsals makes it all worthwhile,' he said.

Most Read

After touring Berlin last summer with award-winning director and choreographer Matthew Bourne, Tom won the parts of a fire demon and a boxer at the Covent Garden show.

He said he was thrilled to be working with Gareth Malone, and with one of his dance idols, Royal Ballet director Dame Monica Mason.

'It is fantastic to have the chance to appear on stage with some famous Royal Ballet dancers and, during rehearsals, I even had lunch with Ewan McGregor and met Boy George, who was rehearsing in another part of the building,' Tom said.

Previously, Tom has appeared in Cromer Seaside Special twice, and three Sheringham Little Theatre pantomimes, as well as the Theatre Royal, Norwich, and as part of a charity show staged at Great Yarmouth's Hippodrome theatre. But his latest performance will see him appear in front his biggest audience yet.

He hopes eventually to win a place at ballet school but, in the meantime, plans to study for A Levels at Sheringham High School Sixth Form Centre.

'My dream is to dance with Matthew Bourne and his company,' Tom said. 'But, whatever I do, I couldn't have done it without my mum and dad, from being my taxi, to giving me support when I have been down in what is a tough industry, they are always there for me.'

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter