NEILSON’S COLUMN (May 21, 2015): JN Theatre Group students offer an evening to remember

As most of the readers of my column know, my wife and I run our own drama school in Horsham called JN Theatre Group.

It’s really the Johnson Neilson Theatre Group, but that’s a bit of a mouthful, so it’s usually abbreviated by everyone, including ourselves.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago we hired The Capitol’s studio so that the students who had taken their LAMDA acting exams could perform their speeches for family and friends.

Usually, the students’ speeches are only seen by their parents and eventually, the examiner, but on this night, they were able to perform them before an audience. That audience was very supportive and not at all partisan. They applauded each performer as if they were their own child, brother or sister, giving real encouragement and support to each one who was able to get up in front of a small audience and do their best.

It was a truly memorable night and the parents found it fascinating to see what other students had been working on, instead of only experiencing their own child’s isolated and solo performance.

Any kind of theatrical event is a shared experience. Both the actors and the audience that night, aged from five to goodness knows what, came away entertained and enlightened. That’s what any performance event should strive to achieve. Gael and I would like to say well done all of the students who took part. You were brilliant.

The VE Day commemorations on BBC 1 were well worth watching too. My friend Robert Lindsay read out a speech by Winston Churchill.

He tweeted later that he was “really nervous”. I think most of us, myself included, often think that when a well known, successful actor gets up in front of an audience, nerves are not on the agenda. They simply get up and do it, but this, of course, is not the case. The nerves are often worse when the actor is well known. After all, there is more at stake.

It was also great to see Alison Jiear on Britain’s Got Talent on Saturday night. Alison and Gael performed together in Hot Mikado in the West End many years ago and Alison has always possessed a tremendous voice.

On Saturday she sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and David Walliams decreed: “We saw a star being born.” Always talented, she now has the public exposure that brings fame.

Follow Michael Neilson on Twitter @michael_neilson.