Disneyland Paris asks Mourne schoolboy to open their show with a Beauty and the Beast excerpt.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Disneyland Paris asks Mourne schoolboy to open their show with a Beauty and the Beast excerpt. thumbnailTommy Cunningham

A LONGSTONE schoolboy will take centre stage at Disneyland Paris this weekend when he opens a show at the world-renowned entertainment resort.

Tommy Cunningham, the son of Martin and Gail, will give a solo performance of the 'Disney Dazzle' medley this Saturday (17 February).

Tommy, a first year pupil at St Louis Grammar School, was chosen to perform at one of the opening shows after impressing Disney bosses during a performance filmed especially for them.

While 60 children have been chosen to perform from the hundreds that auditioned, Tommy was the one chosen to open the show with an excerpt from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

The 12-year-old, who is a pupil at Belfast Performing Arts School, and despite only joining the Lisburn branch 13 months ago, has had much success in his amateur dramatic career to date.

"Tommy has had a love for acting from a very young age, he started singing and performing at home from the time he could walk.

"I remember when he started Moneydarragh Primary School, his primary one teacher would say that he would just break into song. He continued to do this, even when he was out on the football field," his proud dad Martin said.

When he was six, Tommy auditioned for the first time for Warrenpoint panto and has never looked back. He is currently rehearsing for his seventh panto performance.

Tommy also performs with Newcastle Glees Musical Society and has appeared in their last three productions, and this year got a principal role as one of the seven dwarfs.

His CV is already impressive. Tommy has performed in a short play for Queen's University Belfast, graced the Waterfront Hall stage and was chosen to sing at the Gas Works Gala Ball in the La Mon Hotel and Country Club.

He also auditioned for the Northern Ireland School of Music and Theatre's (NISMAT) Christmas production of the musical Elf and earned the lead role of Michael Hobbs (Elf's half brother).

Tommy is no stranger to working with some big industry names including Peter Corry, Ashley Fulton and Fleur Mellor.

Martin added that while he and his wife Gail are nervous for their only son, Tommy does not know what nerves are.

"We saw that Queen's University were looking for a young boy to play a part in a short film they were making, Tommy again went for the audition and got the part. The film crew and the directors could not get over how professional Tommy's attitude was and how he just got it right first time, every time. He listened to direction and did exactly what was asked of him.

"Tommy does not seem to be one bit fazed by the big stage or the cameras, it seems as though he was just made for it," Martin added.

"When he was going to the audition we thought that he looked concerned so asked him if he was nervous and he said, I am thinking about what I am going to get for my dinner!"

Tommy has also auditioned for several feature films including the new Avatar film and although he didn't get that part, his dad said "they were very impressed with him and said they would keep him in mind for further productions".

Tommy says he does not get nervous but "cannot wait to perform and get that adrenaline rush".

He successfully completed his level five Musical Theatre with distinction and is currently working on his level six in Musical Theatre with his Annalong based music tutor Emma-Jane McKnight.

She says she is "totally amazed by him and very, very proud".

"I think Tommy is really brave. He is always working really hard and is always up for experimenting with characters and different types of music, whether it's classical or jazz," said Emma-Jane.

Martin said they could not be prouder of Tommy, whose younger sister Cassie is also following in her big brother's footsteps.

"He is very critical of himself and is always trying to better himself. I would say you did really well and he would say 'Dad, stop going on!'," said Martin.


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