A YOUNG actor is taking his first steps to stage stardom after landing a plum role in a major musical.
Matt Najair, 13, of Juniper Close, St Leonards, beat 350 hopefuls to win the part of Friedrich - the Von Trapp family’s eldest son - in the touring production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic The Sound of Music, alongside Jason Donovan and Connie Fisher.
The youngster stepped out on stage in Glasgow last week for his first run of shows capping a remarkably rapid rise for the Filsham Valley student.
“I had done a couple of shows ages ago with the Hastings Stage Studio and then last year I did Beauty and the Beast with the Hastleons at the White Rock Theatre. The director Jane Estall had an agency, she liked me and it just went from there.”
Matt got a chorus part for the West End production of Oliver! to gain some experience and then auditioned for the coveted part of Friedrich, one of the children around whom the whole story revolves. He had three weeks of intensive rehearsals going up and down to London every day, before making his bow in Scotland last week.
His family were there for his first performance, and with upcoming dates in Leeds, Nottingham, Norwich, Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle and Wimbledon, the teenager admits he is loving every minute.
“It has been absolutely amazing,” he said. “There were a few nerves on my first night because it was a big theatre in Glasgow with a lot of people but it felt good and I was more excited than anything.
“It is very hard work though because there are a lot of harmonies to learn, so even if you think you know the songs there’s more to do but it’s very rewarding.”
And despite the demands of juggling his schoolwork with the busy schedule, Matt is level-headed about his future prospects. “I would love to carry on doing shows because it is brilliant fun but I will see where it takes me. It might lead nowhere but I will still go to auditions and my family are right behind me.”
And dad Les said the family were very proud of the way Matt was handling the pressure. “We have always lived by the ethos that we do not get the children to do anything they don’t want to do, but it was fantastic to see him on stage,” he said.
“We were all a bit nervous but we have confidence in his ability - he’s very good and he’s very understated about it all.”