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Village Music & Drama

Jack’s flying high in panto

Posted on November 20 2008 at 12:33:33 0 comments

Jack as Peter Pan

Readers of The Village will have noticed every now and then mention of the latest role for young actor Jack Montgomery.

It started six years ago when, at the age of ten, he appeared as Chip in Beauty and the Beast at Birmingham Hippodrome and we took a picture of him with a teacup on his head (there’s not enough room to embarrass him with the photo again here).

Jack, who lives in Alvechurch, won that role at his first professional audition after hearing about it on local radio. He’d already been attending the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy in Barnt Green for a year or so previously after his friends’ parents had been saying how good he was in school productions.

Since that early breakthrough Jack’s acting career has been incredibly busy – while he has also achieved good GCSEs at St Augustine’s Catholic High School in Redditch, where he is now in the sixth year studying for A-Levels.

He is currently appearing in his first solo starring role in a major pantomime – as Peter Pan opposite Paul Nicholas’s Captain Hook – at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. In the past he has had to share such roles with other boys because he was under 16, but this time he gets to fly about with Tinkerbell, played by Isobel Hathaway, every performance.

Jack, who will be 17 in February, has a list of stage credits including a couple of runs at Birmingham Rep, again in Peter Pan and in Brassed Off, and in London’s West End with lead roles in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music.

In film he has been directed by the great Ridley Scott in Tristan and Isolde, among other roles, while on TV he played Ben Trent in Primeval.

In perhaps his highest-profile small-screen role, he portrayed young Captain Jack Harkness in two episodes of Torchwood.

Of this role, Jack tells The Village: “It was a great part and fun having to do an American accent, even though it involved endless running up sand dunes while screaming at the top of my lungs.”

But this wasn’t too difficult compared with starring in London while still continuing a normal life in Alvechurch. “The biggest challenge I’ve had so far has been coping with live performances four times a week while commuting during various West End runs.

“I am very grateful to my school for letting me have the time off and the endless support they have given me over the years,” he added.

“My friends are also all very supportive and always make the effort to see me in the theatre. There was a school trip for The Sound of Music and the whole of the sixth form is going to Wolverhampton to see me in Peter Pan.”

This latest role has come about more quickly than usual because of the progress of boy band JLS in TV’s X-Factor which led to their frontline singer, Aston Merrygold, pulling out of Peter Pan when they got through to the X-Factor finals.

“I was very surprised to hear that I got the part,” Jack explains. “I had only been out of the audition for half an hour and was still in London. Usually, you can wait for weeks before you hear anything.”

When we spoke, JLS had only just scraped through a sing-off into the next week of X-Factor and Jack thought he preferred playing Peter Pan to being in a boy band, even though it is much harder work.

“And it would be quite fun to be where Aston is at the moment,” he added.

But Jack’s head isn’t in the stars and he is planning to continue studying so he has a good education “just in case” while auditioning for different jobs and “seeing what happens”.

Meanwhile, watch out Jeremy Clarkson – Jack’s dream job is as a Top Gear presenter, combining TV work with his passion for cars.

And while he isn’t yet old enough to take his driving test, Jack already has plans for the “nice little sum” of money he has accumulated for someone of his age.

“It is all in a savings account and I think will spend my first large amount on my first car!”
Peter Pan is at Wolverhampton Grand until January 25. Box office: 01902 429212.

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