A TALENTED young local girl has been plucked from a 3,000-strong audition to play the lead role in a one-off new musical about David and Goliath.

Olivia Purnell, 13, of Yelverton, has followed in her father Craig’s footsteps into the spotlight and will be performing on the same stage as him when they star in King David - A Hero’s Journey on March 12 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, which will possibly include royalty in the audience.

Craig Purnell, a double award-winning West End star himself, having worked with Cameron Macintosh in the West End, The Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre with stars such as Hugh Jackman and Maureen Lipman, said: “I’m very proud of her, she’s taken this in her stride. She was very nervous for the audition which was in front of the writer, producer and director but she obviously impressed them because she was picked out of a potential 3,000 schoolchildren from throughout London and the rest of the country which is very impressive. She initially sent off a performance video and was then invited to audition by reading the script, singing and reading a poem. Thankfully they were impressed. Not only did she get picked to be in the show, but was chosen as the lead.’’

The show tells the story of King David through the ages, while Olivia plays the lead character of David’s granddaughter Maya and because it shows her growing up throughout the story, she is on stage for the entire show, a full two and half hours!

Craig was given the choice of being in the audience as his daughter’s chaperone, (as one of 2,000 other parents/chaperones) or because of his vast stage experience, of acting with her – he chose to act and takes on the part of Goliath and will ‘die’ by David’s sling. The show is on for one day and is part of the annual Prom Praise For Schools which includes the likes of famed singers such as Lesley Garrett and Alfie Boe who rehearsed like Olivia and Craig at All Souls Church, London. Prom Praise has operated since 2002. This is the biggest production All Souls has staged with a 400-plus orchestra and a sold-out Royal Albert Hall audience of 5,200-plus.

Olivia has honed her acting skills in Tavistock at King’s Christian Community Hall in Tavistock where she rehearses with Theatre Train with whom she has acted in the Sound of Music and Little Mermaid. She has also performed on stage at Mount Kelly College where she is a pupil.

Craig said: “It’s very exciting and Olivia’s looking forward to it. It’s a massive step from what she’s used to in terms of venue and audience. I’m sure the experience will be a boost to her confidence and an amazing experience for a future career and her performance ambitions.”