Lily is loving her big Chichester Festival Youth Theatre adventure

While her mum Vicky is on stage in Bognor Regis this Christmas in Beauty and the Beast, Lily Barkes takes to the stage with Chichester Festival Youth Theatre in The Wind In The Willows (CFT main house, December 17-31).
Lily Barkes by Tim Hills PhotographyLily Barkes by Tim Hills Photography
Lily Barkes by Tim Hills Photography

There can’t be many mother-daughter combinations appearing in separate productions in different theatres just a few miles away from each other this Christmas but for Vicky and Lily it's all fairly normal.

“It's been the case for us for the past four years,” Lily says. “I think there is one show where she can get to see me if she drives fast enough this year and I will be able to see her because they go on two days longer than we do.”

And it is great to share the pressures.

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“I think we can both understand the process that we are going through a lot better and we can both understand why each of us is really tired but really it's just good to know that we're both doing shows. I don't know about nerves but I know directly before I go on I get lots of adrenaline but that's really good. It is great to have that. It powers me through the show!

“I officially joined the youth theatre after-school group when I was ten, but I did a lot of summer workshops and half-term workshops since I was younger. I've always gone to the theatre, and joining the youth theatre was great.

"When I joined you could see that everyone there wanted to be doing it, whether drama or dance, which is maybe not the case in school when everyone just has to be there. In the youth theatre you're surrounded by like-minded people that really love what they're doing and it's just given me so many different opportunities. And I just love being able to tell stories. I love being able to take someone else on a journey. I just love that escapism into a different world that you get.”

And it's certainly a different world with this particular show, The Wind In The Willows.

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“I knew the book and I knew the story but I did a thorough re-read of the book before the auditions. I do think it is a fun story but I do think there is more to it than that. There are lots of morals about friendship and about loyalty – obviously as well as it being a lot of fun at the same time.”

Lily is sharing the role of Mole with Milena Harrison – opposite Toad who will lead them both and everyone else on a merry dance: “I think with Toad you can't help but laugh at him.

"As a character he is oblivious that he thinks everyone loves him and he would think that everyone is laughing with him but I do think people are actually laughing at him. Whether he learns anything by the end or not I don't know. Perhaps he does then but he doesn't do anything about it!”

As for future, Lily is certainly hoping to go into the business: “I'm going to be taking a gap year to get more experience around the arts and performing. And then I will hopefully be applying to drama school.”