Brothers take to the stage for Peter Pan

Matthew Willis.
Matthew Willis.

Burgess Hill brothers Matthew and Daniel Willis take to the stage for Peter Pan at the Hawth in Crawley this Christmas.

Matthew, aged 12, and ten-year-old Daniel will be heading for Neverland from December 9-31 (tickets on 01293 553636).

For both, it’s the latest theatrical adventure in busy young careers.

Matthew is playing John Darling: “He is a little boy, but to me he seems quite organised, someone that has been brought up in a very wealthy family. He will be quite smart and quite fun to play.

“You can have fun with him. You don’t have to hold back. You can experiment with him and think how he should be played.”

John doesn’t have as many lines to say as Matthew thought he might: “But they are important lines for the other actors.”

Matthew developed a good way to learn them, reading and re-reading them in bed, covering them up and saying them and then repeating the process for any he got wrong.

Matthew will be helped this Christmas by the fact that he has already performed quite a few times at The Hawth: “It’s a bit nerve-racking when you are off-stage, but as soon as you are on there, you forget about your nerves. It becomes much more easy.

“I think there is a lot of work to be done, but it is something that I really enjoy doing. It’s just that thing about being someone different. You can escape from yourself and your worries and become someone else that doesn’t have those worries or has different worries.”

Matthew goes to Oakmeeds Community College in Burgess Hill. He started going to Ariel Drama Plus when he was six years old and has never looked back.

He has been in productions such as Bugsy Malone, a Munchkin in Wizard of Oz, Michael in a Billy Elliot competition his drama group entered, Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a brother in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. He also was in Peter Pan at The Capitol Theatre, Horsham, when he was nine years old, playing Nibs, a Lost Boy – his first speaking role.

In his spare time, Matthew plays the violin in both his school orchestra and a local strings group. He also loves playing the guitar and is now even better than his dad - so his mum says!

He sings with his brother Robert and his mum in inChoir - and they were all very lucky to be able to sing with the classical boy group Blake in Victoria Park and Clair Hall, Haywards Heath earlier this year.