A Lewes schoolboy has landed the leading role in a major production at one of the country’s top theatres.
Toby Murray, 12, is proud to have secured the title part in Emil and the Detectives playing at the National Theatre until March.
His acting career began when he was just eight and cast as one of the twins in Peter Pan at the Theatre Royal in Brighton.
Now the pupil at Lewes Old Grammar School has to balance his studies with his love and natural talent for singing, dancing and acting.
He’s already been seen in Casualty and Blandings for BBC One and as a lead in children’s TV as Dylan in Dani’s Castle on CBBC. He’s also played alongside Alan Rickman and Rebecca Hall in the soon to be released feature film Une Promesse and filmed two campaigns for Cheerios breakfast cereals in both Spain and South Africa.
Before this latest role, his stage career had already taken him to The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford, as Eric in the original cast of Matilda the Musical, which he also played in the West End for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
“I was in Ireland filming when I got the news about Emil,” said the excited youngster.
“I was gobsmacked – it’s amazing, the cast and crew are just fantastic and everyone around me has been so supportive. My new school in Lewes has been amazing too, which is one of the reasons we chose it. They’re so accommodating about letting me catch-up on the lessons I miss while I’m rehearsing or on-stage. They realise and support how much acting means to me.”
Robert Blewitt, Toby’s Headmaster at Lewes Old Grammar School, is delighted at the boy’s success.
He said: “He puts in so much effort and is a real professional in his approach.”
Text messages from his classmates make sure that the Year 7 student knows what he’s missed in class so that he can spend weekends catching up on academic work.
A large group of Toby’s friends, as well as some teachers and trustees of the Lewes school, will be off to London next month to see their young thespian star in action on the big stage.
The South Bank’s endearing family play has received wide acclaim but it’s been hard work as Toby admitted.
He said: “I wouldn’t have got through it without the help from my older sister, mum, dad and grandparents. They have all given me so much support and help.
“It’s advice like recommending I should not act the character of Emil but to feel the character that has been so helpful with the show.”