Two Teesside schoolgirls return to centre stage for Gordon Steel's Grow Up Grandad

Two Teesside schoolgirls are both returning to centre stage to share the lead role of ‘Poppy’ in Gordon Steel’s Grow Up Grandad.

After a tough round of auditions, Eliza Dobson, 14, of Egglescliffe Comprehensive and Rose Allen, 13, of English Martyrs school, were both chosen to perform in the Steelworks theatre company play, which premiered at ARC last autumn.

Now a year later, and after impressive feedback from audience and critics, the pair have once again been asked to swap schoolbooks for scripts as they reprise the role of angsty teen Poppy, who they will play at alternate performances.

Grow Up Grandad is about a young girl who is forced to live with her estranged and grumpy grandpa, which throws up a comical, heart-warming and yet equally heart-breaking story, all set in Steel’s native Teesside.

14 year old Eliza, a pupil at Nadine’s Academy of Dance in Hartlepool and previous Teen Star finalist, hopes that her experience playing Poppy might land her a place at one of the country’s top stage schools. 

Speaking about her return to the stage and her plans for the future, she said:

“When I heard that Grow Up Grandad would be returning and had the phone call from Gordon to say he wanted us back I was absolutely thrilled to bits. Last year was the first time I had performed in a professional production, and even though I was quite nervous, I loved every minute. My friends and family have been really supportive too – after the performances last year my Nana even cut out the critic’s reviews and stuck them around her living room!”

She continued: “After school I would love to go to Brit School and follow in the path of Adele and Jessie J as I love singing and dancing, but this experience has made me really passionate about musical theatre too. I am really grateful for the opportunity I have been given and I can’t wait to perform as Poppy again, and I can promise that she has even more attitude this time!”

Rose Allen shares the lead role but has slightly different plans for the future. She commented:

“It was an amazing experience to work with Gordon, it was my first taste of professional acting too and Eliza and I are now really close friends. I’m really looking forward to going out on tour and visiting the other venues, it’s really exciting. I think I screamed when I received the phone call from Gordon!

“In the future, if acting doesn’t work out then I don’t think I’d move to London, I’d like to stay in the North East and maybe go into archaeology.”

The play will return to ARC for a week long run in September, before heading out on tour to venues across the North, which includes dates at The Customs House, Whitley Bay Playhouse, and Bishop Auckland Town Hall.

Gordon Steel, playwright and founder of Steelworks theatre company has mentored many of the region’s aspiring actors during his time at Stockton Youth Theatre. Many of whom have gone on to be well recognised faces of the TV screen and stage including, Jill Halfpenny, Daniel Casey and Mark Benton. Steel’s other plays include Like A Virgin and Dead Fish, which won a Fringe First Award in 1993, and a Kick In The Baubles has been performed by theatre companies as far away as Australia. 

Tickets for Grow Up Grandad are now on sale, click here to book or call 01642 525199 to book for ARC performances.