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Dance student Alex is cast in Gangsta Granny

Alex Patterson has been cast in David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny

A rising dance star from Sunderland College has landed a role in the stage production of David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny.

Alex Patterson, 17, will play the role of Diane, a 12-year-old girl who auditions for a talent competition in the show.

The gifted BTEC Level 3 dance student, who is in her first year of studies at Sunderland College, will be performing a solo dance routine and will also appear in two other scenes in the play, which is running until May 14 at Sunderland Empire, before heading to the West End.

Gangsta Granny was first published in 2011 to critical acclaim and follows the story of Ben and his granny as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Alex, from Stanhope in County Durham, was one of hundreds of young hopefuls who auditioned for the role earlier this year after Gangsta Granny producers, Birmingham Stage Company, announced they wanted to cast local girls for the part when the show came to Sunderland.

She captivated them with her video auditions and found out last month that she and another local girl, Rhiane Finley, from Sunderland, will alternate playing the character of Diane over eight performances.

Alex said: “I’m really happy that I got the part. I think around 500 girls auditioned for the role, so there was a lot of competition, and it’s a great feeling to know they were impressed with my performance. I received some great feedback from the producers and I’m really excited to be part of the show.”

The budding performer, who is a member of Worx Dance Theatre Arts in Sunderland, has been dancing since she was four and will be the seventh generation of her family to dance professionally.

She appeared in her first professional role with Ballet Lorent in their version of Rapunzel at Durham’s Gala Theatre in 2012 and last year successfully auditioned to be part of the Weardale Polar Express experience.

She added: “I have been dancing for as long as I can remember. My mum was a dancer and I was always nagging her to take me to dance classes when I was younger. It’s very important for me as I’ve grown up around it and have been inspired by all the generations of my family who have danced for a profession. I would love to follow in their footsteps and carry on the family tradition.”

Alex is also an accomplished acro dancer and, along with five other members of her dance troupe, won the Northern Stage Championship recently. The dancers will now go on to represent the region in the Acrobatic British Championships next year in Edinburgh.

After she finishes her studies at Sunderland College, Alex hopes to study at a specialist performing arts school before launching her career in the commercial dance industry.

Zoe Bellamy, dance lecturer at Sunderland College, said: “We are very proud of Alex and her achievements this year.  She is a very talented student and grasps every opportunity offered to her.

“We encourage all of our students to gain as much performance experience as they can while studying with us to prepare them for life as a professional in the industry. Our students have been lucky enough to work with lots of highly regarded performance and dance companies this year, including Southpaw Dance Company, Rash Dash, Experiential Dance and Washington D.C-based Company E.”

For more information about dance and musical theatre courses at Sunderland College, ring 0191 5116000, email info@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk or click here.

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