Performer Josie secures a place at specialist school

Josie Briant, pictured during an annual show at Stagecoach Theatre Arts, has been selected to attend The Hammond School of Performing Arts in Chester.
Josie Briant, pictured during an annual show at Stagecoach Theatre Arts, has been selected to attend The Hammond School of Performing Arts in Chester.
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A Ponteland schoolgirl who hopes one day to star in a West End show has won a place at a prestigious performing arts school.

Josie Briant started dancing from a young age and developed her skills in sessions at South Shields, where she and her parents lived before moving further north.

Since then, she has worked on singing and drama acting with Stagecoach Theatre Arts and through it and the Peanuts Agency, she successfully auditioned for the role of Young Fiona when Shrek the Musical toured both the Theatre Royal in Newcastle and Sunderland Empire in 2015.

Earlier this year, the 12-year-old came through a demanding series of auditions at The Hammond School of Performing Arts in Chester, which also has an excellent academic reputation.

But the former Ponteland Middle School pupil still had to wait as parents Mike and Lynsey could only afford to send her to the school if they received sufficient contribution funds from the Government’s Music and Dance Scheme scholarship that she had achieved.

After recently finding out the exact figure, which was enough, they were able to break the good news to their daughter. She will start boarding at the school next month.

Josie said: “I had to wait what felt like 100 years to be told I’m definitely going there, but now it’s happening words can’t really describe my excitement.

“It will be different because it will be like living with a lot of brothers and sisters.

“I was a bit nervous the first time I performed as Young Fiona, but I soon felt comfortable on the stage and it was a great experience.”

Her parents thanked the staff at her school in South Shields and Ponteland Middle School for their support, as well as the people at Stagecoach and Dance City in Newcastle that have helped her development in recent years.

Mike said: “Josie may not end up in the performing business, but studying at The Hammond means she will have a lot of fun along the way, meet lots of people, perform in great shows and enjoy some fantastic experiences.”