Former city actors hit the stage

TWO former Worcester Operatic and Dramatic Society Youth Section (WODYS) members – are appearing on stage in London.

Simon Row and Jack Giblen are wowing audiences at the Novello Theatre and Kenneth More Theatre respectively.

Simon, who uses the stage name Simon Willmont, is in the ensemble of Mamma Mia! which reopened last Wednesday, August 25 Simon grew up in St John’s, Worcester, and attended Christopher Whitehead High School. He took the lead role of Curly in WODYS 1996 staging of Oklahoma! and studied at Worcester College of Technology before going to the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts.

At one point in his career, he took the lead role of Eddie in the hit musical Blood Brothers which played at Malvern Festival Theatres during its countrywide tour. Simon has been living in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, for six years. He and his wife, Susie, have just celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary and they have a daughter, Heidi, who will be celebrating her fourth birthday in September by going to see her dad in the production.

Simon is in the ensemble and cover for all three dads, Harry, Bill and Sam.

Meanwhile Jack Giblen is making his professional stage debut in the world premiere of The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi. Jack Giblen, who played Jean Valjean in the WODYS 2016 production of Les Miserables and graduated from London College of Music in 2020 when the pandemic had just started, is making is playing J.S, Joseph Grimaldi’s son. He said he is excited to make his professional debut in this new British musical adding: “It’s going to be amazing.”

Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837) was the most celebrated of English clowns. The first to use white-face make-up and wear outrageous coloured clothes, he completely transformed the role of the clown in the pantomime with a look as iconic as Chaplin’s tramp or Tommy Cooper’s magician.

Daniel Curtis the composer of The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi recognised the plight of new graduates to the industry and decided to cast as many as he was able in to his new show. They auditioned and chose Jack, a former pupil of Worcester’s Bishop Perowne Church of England College. Jack added the highlight for him is that he sings a trio The Grimaldi Dynasty with his stage father Joseph Grimaldi, played by Andrew Ewart, also a graduate, and his stage grandfather The Signor played by Mike Sterling who is an experienced actor of the West End.

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