Mar 16 2011 By Siba Matti
Lauren Stroud - Count Me In
The cream of the West End visited the Beck Theatre to perform in Count Me In, a dazzling variety show in aid of Cancer Research UK. SIBA MATTI spoke to Lauren Stroud, the brains behind the project, to find out more.
MOST people whose loved ones are diagnosed with cancer attempt to raise money for charity by completing a sponsored marathon or bike ride.
But when Lauren Stroud (pictured) received the devastating news that her father, Kim, 54, was suffering from the disease, she decided to go the extra mile by masterminding a West End-style show at the Beck.
Lauren, of Marion Close, Hayes, who is currently playing Brenda in the smash-hit tour of Hairspray, drew upon her talents to organise Count Me In, a stage spectacular featuring her fellow cast members, injected with a dose of stand-up by comedian Brian Conley.
The 20-year-old hopes the sell-out show, hosted by former Family Fortunes presenter, Les Dennis, will raise £15,000 for Cancer Research UK.
Lauren said of the show, held at the Beck Theatre on Sunday (13): "Thankfully my dad is in remission now, but when we found out he had cancer we were absolutely devastated.
"Having to watch my dad, who has been there my whole life, suffering and experience the role reversal, has been very painful for all of us.
"I wanted to do something I knew I was good at to raise as much money as possible.
"Back in November, I asked the Hairspray cast if they would be interested in helping me put on a show and thought there would be no better place to do it than at our local theatre, the Beck.
"The show includes friends from Wicked, We Will Rock You and Mamma Mia, performing hits from different West End musicals such as Chicago, Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma and Les Miserables.
"Les Dennis and Brian Conley, who also star in the Hairspray tour, were only too happy to help. Brian's father died from cancer in his 50's so it is a cause very close to his heart.
"My boyfriend, Liam Doyle, whose mum was diagnosed with cancer last year, has also been amazingly supportive, and another friend, Matthew Lee, printed all the programmes free of charge.
"The show completely sold out, raising £10,000 for Cancer Research UK, and we hope to have raised another £5,000 on the night."
Lauren was delighted to learn last week that she has won the role of pink-haired beauty school drop-out, Frenchie, in the stage version of Grease.
She credits her success to the Beck, where she took her first steps on stage in the popular summer youth projects, starring in Summer Holiday, Fame and West Side Story.
Lauren, whose sister, Shannon, 17, is an aspiring actress, said: "The Beck was the first place to give me a leading role and the summer youth projects are a fantastic way to gain experience and break into the industry.
"Everyone at the Beck is like a big family and I have made some lifelong friends."
As for the future, Lauren is keen to continue using her talents to earn cash for charity.
"This is my first fundraising event but it if goes well I would love to do more," she said.
"When I'm older and my career slows down I would also like to open my own drama school.
"I couldn't have hoped for people to be more helpful; without them, this show wouldn't be taking place.
"Every penny counts for charity and I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen."
To make a donation, visit www.cancerresearchuk.org