Eight musically-talented students from Northern Ireland will be following in the footsteps of Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith as they attend Youth Music Theatre UK’s (YMT) prestigious summer programme.

Aside from the impressive alumni, YMT is offering the students a chance to spend the summer working with professional creative teams to put together a brand new musical version of Gulliver’s Travels, set to premier at the Lyric Theatre at the end of July. Each student will also receive a qualification from Trinity College London to credit their work.

Over 1,200 young people across 24 cities auditioned for limited places. The lucky eight from Northern Ireland includes Deaglan Arthurs, Frances Commin, Emma Dallas, Lucy Elliot, Christopher McNeilly, Will McKee, Alicia Walsh and Mark Woods.

Successful student, Deaglan Arthurs

As expected, the young people given this opportunity are absolutely thrilled. 18 year old Deaglan Arthurs said: “Gulliver’s Travels holds such a special place in my heart because Jonathan Swift came up with the story while looking over Belfast from Cavehill and wrote most of it in Cookstown, which is only up the road from where I live.”

Likewise, 15 year old Emma Dallas was proud that this novel had been chosen. She said: “I’m really happy to be involved in the new musical of Gulliver’s Travels  because it’s never been a musical before.”

IMBV-Emma Dallas

Emma Dallas

Staff and students alike are looking forward to the summer production. YMT Executive Producer Jon Bromwich commented: “We are delighted to have such extremely talented individuals join the YMT Company. The production promises to take audiences on a journey through unknown lands with mythical creatures as we bring Jonathon Swift’s classical satirical tale magically to life.”

The production of Gulliver’s Travels is partly supported by small grants from Arts Council Northern Ireland which aim to encourage young people’s involvement in the arts. Joanna Johnston from the Arts Council said: “It is important that our young people are given opportunities to broaden their creative experiences and, to perform on the stage of the Lyric Theatre will be an experience that stays with them throughout their lives.

Frances Commins

It’s clear that the young people agree. Successful student, Frances Commins said: “this project will give me the opportunity to work in a professional environment and gain valuable experience.”

Fellow student, Lucy Elliot added: “It’s great that I am able to work with professionals in the industry, and make new friends in the process.”

Lucy Elliott

Lucy Elliott

Christopher McNeilly summarised the general feeling amongst the eight lucky young people: “I feel truly privileged to have been selected for the YMT programme and I simply cannot wait to perform with a group of talented and similarly minded young people in a play that I know will be amazing.”


Christopher McNeilly

Book tickets to see the musical adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels here.

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