The long search for an actress to perform the role of Grace Darling in a new play about her life is over.
Catherine Dryden, 23, from Durham, will play the 19th century Northumberland sea rescue heroine in Amazing Grace.
Written by Tyneside-based writers Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood, this modern take on a legendary tale pays tribute to the Northumberland heroine who in 1838, with her lighthouse keeper father William, rescued nine survivors from the wreck of the SS Forfarshire.
The funny and heartfelt play sees local girl Grace Armstrong set out to make a film about her idol Grace Darling but things don’t turn out quite how she expects.
The writers, along with the show’s director Emma Roxburgh, auditioned 20 local actresses for the part and it was Catherine, a Musical Theatre graduate from the Newcastle College, who caught their eye.
Trevor Wood explained: “This is our ninth full play and we’ve been involved in dozens of productions of them but this was the most difficult casting decision we’ve had to make because all of the candidates were excellent, which shows the depth of acting talent we have in the region.
“The story is about a film company coming to Northumberland to make a movie about Grace Darling, so we were looking specifically for someone who could not only play the historical Grace Darling but the modern character of Grace Armstrong, who is the lead actress in a film.
“Catherine fitted the role perfectly.”
Catherine’s first appearance on stage was with Chester-Le-street Theatre Group when she was just three-years-old.
Her theatre credits include Don't Quote Me at Northern Stage, The Birthday Blaze at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal and The Wind Road Boys at Sunderland Empire.
She said: “I am delighted to be selected for this prestigious piece of theatre, especially playing the role of Grace Darling.
“She’s a terrific character with a lot of fiery passion and determination.
“Ed and Trevor have a fantastic reputation in the region and nationally and the play is great. It’s a brilliant opportunity.”
The other cast members are Sean Widely, 30, whose previous work includes performing with the Northumberland Touring Company and Trevor Cuthbertson, 58, a native Geordie who appeared at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London, in Henry VIII.
Director Emma Roxburgh said: “We have a strong cast, a fantastic script and the show will be a must-see event in the region.”
The show will be performed at ten theatres in the region throughout October and November 2012.
The three-week North East tour of Amazing Grace will begin with a world premiere at Alnwick Playhouse on Wednesday, October 17, as follows:
Alnwick Playhouse: 01665 510 785 Wednesday, October 17; Thursday, October 18 (evening and matinee); Friday, October 19
Consett Empire: 01207 218171 Saturday, October 20 (evening and matinee)
Hexham Queen’s Hall: 01434 652477 Monday, October 22 and Tuesday, October 23 (evening and matinee)
Gala theatre (Durham): 0191 332 4041 Wednesday, October 24 and Thursday, October 25 (evening and matinee)
Hartlepool Theatre: 01429 890 000 Friday, October 26
Gateshead Old Town Hall: 0191 433 6965 Saturday, October 27
Customs House (South Shields): 0191 454 1234 Monday, October 29 and Tuesday, October 30 (evening and matinee)
Blyth Phoenix theatre: 01670 367 228 Wednesday, October 31
Berwick Maltings: 01289 330999 Thursday, November 1 and Friday, November 2 (evening and matinee)
Playhouse Whitley Bay: 0844 277 2771 Saturday, November 3 (evening and matinee)
Tickets for Amazing Grace are on sale from the venues. For further information visit www.edwaughandtrevorwood.co.uk
Amazing Grace is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England
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