17-year-old wins 'First Lady' role

A Devon teenager has certainly hit the right note with judges - winning a place at a celebrated summer theatre school with her singing talent.

Jess Cooper, aged 17 and from Plympton, competed with 2000 other hopefuls to be chosen as one of just 300 by Youth Music Theatre UK.

The national theatre company for young people offers a two weeks summer programme in the school holidays for performers. 

Jess beat hundreds of other hopefuls to take part in the company’s all-female production First Ladies at Plymouth’s Barbican Theatre next month.

It’s the stuff of dreams for Jess: "I've been singing my whole life in the back of our car - annoying my parents. But it wasn't until about four years ago that I started having singing lessons. I've been doing musical theatre grades with my singing teacher and I love it every time I do another one,” she explains.

Watch: Jess' singing and her interview with Plymouth's Daily Herald

“I started writing songs in Year 7, they were very miserable then but they've started getting a lot happier!,” confesses Jess.

The theatre company produces eight different musicals across the country which are written from scratch for the summer school participants.

The Plymouth production covers all aspects of music theatre working with experienced artistic staff to develop skills in writing, composing and choreography as well as performance.

“I still can't believe I've been given this amazing opportunity and can't wait to start," admits Jess. "I've been singing and dancing, and driving my parent's nuts for as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until my mum and dad finally gave in and allowed me to have singing and dance lessons that I realised how much I loved musical theatre."

Meanwhile Jess' classmates at Plympton Academy are backing her all the way, helping her raise the £1,500 needed to attend the summer school. 

The music department held a fundraising concert where Jess sang and played guitar while the school bands and other students also performed. 

"Jess is a true superstar she is a dedicated student who puts a 100 per cent into everything she does. We couldn't be more proud of her and I have no doubt she will ooze professionalism and talent at the summer school," said Plympton Academy, head of music, Nicola Clapson.

6th Form, LifeWeb editor