Cheerleaders hit the big time

CHEERLEADERS from Suffolk have certainly got something to chant about - after being chosen to appear in a new TV programme and a West End show.Team Spirit from Felixstowe was only formed seven months ago but are already jumping for joy after winning competitions and parts in major productions.

CHEERLEADERS from Suffolk have certainly got something to chant about - after being chosen to appear in a new TV programme and a West End show.

Team Spirit from Felixstowe was only formed seven months ago but are already jumping for joy after winning competitions and parts in major productions.

The 35 youngsters - mostly girls but also a few boys - aged ten to 21 were a new venture for the Southernwood Stage School and not expected to play a big role in its plans.

Dance teacher Sheryl Southernwood said: “I just thought it would be something a little different, an extra sideline to be able to offer any young people who were interested - but it has taken off like a rocket.”

Despite big screen movies featuring cheerleaders, the activity has still not taken off nationwide and Team Spirit is still one of very few troupes around the country.

Sheryl said: “I think that is partly what is getting us noticed because it is unusual, but also that we have reached such a high standard so quickly with our routines and work. It has been very exciting.

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“It is mostly girls but the lads we have really enjoy it, too. It is quite physically demanding to work in the cheerleading style with all the lifts, dancing and chanting.”

After taking part in a local event and winning a cheerleading competition, she decided to apply for auditions for shows to get a bench mark for how well they were performing.

They secured an audition for a new Paul O'Grady TV talent show called You've Got Talent and went to London to film the pilot, which goes out this autumn on ITV.

The group have also been chosen to perform at Her Majesty's Theatre - home of Phantom of the Opera - in the West End on December 11, when they will perform in the first half of a show with youngsters from the stage school in the second half.

To help with the preparation for this, mum-of-three Sheryl, an acrobatic dancer and a former beauty queen and illusionist's assistant, invited her sister Gemma Andrews - currently in the West End show We Will Rock You - back to Felixstowe help the youngsters work on their routines.

As well as the cheerleaders, the stage school has also taken off well - with 80 youngsters learning drama, singing, creative writing, mime, and dance, including jazz, tap, street and hip-hop.

They are currently preparing to present The Old Russian Shoemaker at Felixstowe Leisure Centre on November 19.

n. What do you think of their success? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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