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Man who inspired Hollywood star Sam Claflin is leaving Norwich Theatre Royal after 28 years

PUBLISHED: 13:15 20 July 2017 | UPDATED: 13:15 20 July 2017

Former students from the Theatre Arts Course return to the Theatre Royal for cameo appearances in The Wind in the Willows in 2014. From left, film star Sam Claflin (Rat); his brother Joe Claflin (Mole); Daniel Burgess (Toad); Lisa Ellis (Mrs Otter) and Theatre Arts Course director, David Lambert. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Former students from the Theatre Arts Course return to the Theatre Royal for cameo appearances in The Wind in the Willows in 2014. From left, film star Sam Claflin (Rat); his brother Joe Claflin (Mole); Daniel Burgess (Toad); Lisa Ellis (Mrs Otter) and Theatre Arts Course director, David Lambert. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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The man who has inspired countless young performers including Hollywood actor Sam Claflin is to leave Norwich Theatre Royal after 28 years at the helm of the venue's arts course programme.

David Lambert, who has written and is currently directing the NTR Youth Company’s production of Alice Back In Wonderland which opens next week, will be leaving this summer. The news comes as the theatre is advertising for eight new roles for its learning and participation team based at Stage Two, next to the main theatre,

Stephen Crocker, the theatre’s chief executive, said: “After 28 years of working with Norwich Theatre Royal as the director of the Theatre Arts Course, David Lambert will be leaving us this summer. He has been an integral part of the Theatre Arts Course and we are very thankful for the enthusiasm and dedication he has shown over these years. Many children, young people and adults have had the immense benefit of working alongside him to develop their skills and participated in performances he has directed. He will surely be missed by staff and members of the Theatre Arts Courses alike.”

About the new roles being advertised, he said: “These roles have been created to help us best deliver our ambitious new three-strand strategy which will see new and expanded programmes of work focussed on learning and education, training and skills and community participation.”

He said the theatre’s autumn term of courses will start as usual in September.

Arts course students past and present shared the stage in August 2014 to celebrate Mr Lambert’s 25th show milestone with a special production of the Wind in the Willows. Sam Claflin - whose films include some of The Hunger Games series, Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides and Me Before You - was among the alumni to take part. Others included Sam’s brother Joe Claflin, who has appeared in Grantchester, Da Vinci’s Demons and Game of Thrones, Daniel Burgess who has developed a succesful directing career, and Lisa Ellis whose acting credits include Eastenders and The Canterbury Tales with the RSC.

At the time Sam said: “It’s very nostalgic treading these boards again, without the arts course I wouldn’t be even half way to where I am now.”

Alice Back In Wonderland, starring about 280 members of the Norwich Theatre Royal Youth Company and with book, music and lyrics by David Lambert, is being performed at Norwich Theatre Royal from July 26 to 29.

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