Chichester: Celebrating a youth theatre which always inspires and supports

Storrington-based former Chichester Festival Youth Theatre member Gi Liley is delighted to be co-host for a special gala celebrating the vital role the youth theatre has played in the CFT’s history.

Georgina Liley
Georgina Liley

Young Trustees Gi and Holly Mirams will hit the stage for CFYT Celebrates on Sunday, July 31 at 3pm, an afternoon which brings together past and present members, with all the proceeds going to support Chichester Festival Youth Theatre. It will offer a celebratory showcase of singing, dancing and performance, interspersed with conversations and short interviews with current and past CFYT members.

Gi, currently a second-year student in actor-musicianship at Rose Bruford, knows she owes so much to her years with the youth theatre: “ From the youth theatre I made friends for life and I also gained a sense of responsibility which ignited the professionalism which I am maintaining as a training performer and that I hope I will carry with me into the profession. But also the teaching and the learning were excellent at the youth theatre. I had something to look forward to every week for five or six years and it was always the highlight of my week. And I know that's a sentiment shared by so many others. But there was also such a wonderful sense of support. Life can get pretty hectic when you are getting towards the end of your compulsory education but it was fantastic to know that there was always support at the youth theatre and that's what I want to give back to the theatre now by supporting it at this gala. I'm just really excited to be part of it.”

For Gi the magic really began when she went to see Kiss Me Kate at Chichester Festival Theatre with her grandmother ten years ago: “I saw the musical and I thought that's what I want to do! Hannah Waddingham was in the lead role and she just blew me away. The whole experience was just so great and it was in such a unique space and the whole thing was so magical.”

Gi promptly embarked on a career with the youth theatre with whom she appeared on the main house stage in the Christmas productions Peter Pan, Beauty and The Beast and The Wizard of Oz: “With Peter Pan and Beauty and The Beast I was more of an ensemble member, and I really enjoyed being part of that. It felt like a big family and we were all supporting each other. With Wizard of Oz I played the Wicked Witch. That was 2019 just before the pandemic and it felt like a different requirement when you are one of the bigger parts but the point is that you share roles. You do an equal amount of shows with your equal and opposite number and the whole thing just really reinforces the whole idea of teamwork and team spirit. It was great.”

And the perfect springboard to the actor musician training that she is doing now and loving so much: “I gained so much from the youth theatre. It's fantastic to be doing this now.”

All proceeds towards Chichester Festival Youth Theatre.