Thursford duo scoop West End roles

Two of the performers who have been wowing crowds at the Thursford Christmas Spectacular in recent weeks have landed parts in a West End production of Phantom of the Opera, one in a leading role.

Katy Treharne, 24, from Nantyglo, south Wales, will play the part of Christine, the object of the Phantom's desire, and Charise Renouf, 19, from Jersey, will be part of the corps de ballet.

Colin Window, cast manager for the Thursford Christmas Spectacular, which is due be performed for the final time this year tomorrow, said: 'They have both done brilliantly. We often have West End performers in our shows. In the past we would normally expect people to perform at Thursford on their way up to the West End but in recent years we have had people come from the West End to perform at Thursford and that shows how far we have come.'

The Thursford Christmas Spectacular was staged for the first time in 1977 on a shoestring budget. There was a single performance with eight performers from King's College, Cambridge.

This year's Spectacular had a budget of �3.5m and a cast of more than 120.

It has been staged twice daily from November 9 and it is estimated that around 130,000 people will have attended the event which is believed to be worth �10 million per year to the Norfolk economy.

Mr Window said: 'We were worried that the recession could have an impact on audience numbers this year but that has not been the case.

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'There have been very few empty seats and the shows have gone brilliantly.'

Ms Treharne was an understudy for Christine in the West End for two years and will perform the role from January until September.

She has been performing at Thursford for the first time this year.

She said: 'It's been an amazing experience. I came here to see the Christmas Spectacular last year as my boyfriend was in it and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

'It is such a unique show and setting and people really get into the Christmas spirit.

'I'm used to working in London so to come out to perform in this huge stage show in a little village in the middle of nowhere has been a nice change of scene.

'I've enjoyed spending time in Norfolk and it's felt like a bit of a holiday. I'm a valley girl so I love spending time in the countryside.

'I'm looking forward to Phantom now but I may come back to next year's Thursford Christmas Spectacular, it will depend on what I'm doing.'

The Thursford Christmas Spectacular is one of Ms Ranouf's first professional shows.

She said: 'I had heard a lot of good things about it and I know a lot of well-respected people perform here. I've had a brilliant time.'

She added: 'I auditioned for Phantom of the Opera back in March and it's been a big shock for me to get a part. I'm over the moon.'

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