Broadway star brings a taste of NYC to Airedale pupils

Judine Somerville has spent two weeks working with pupils at Airedale Academy.
Judine Somerville has spent two weeks working with pupils at Airedale Academy.

A Broadway and musical theatre star has helped shine a light on Castleford’s performing arts pupils.

Judine Somerville, whose professional credits include Hairspray Live, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Tony Awards, has spent two weeks at Airedale Academy, encouraging pupils to pursue whatever makes them happy.

Ms Somerville encouraged students to pursue whatever makes them happy.

Ms Somerville encouraged students to pursue whatever makes them happy.

Joanne Pitchfork, who works at the school, said: “She’s just the most amazing person, I’ve never met anybody like her.

“We‘re hoping that her story will inspire our kids to do great things.”

READ MORE: VIDEO: Broadway star Judine Somerville visits Wakefield performing arts pupils
Mrs Somerville was born in the Bronx, one of New York City’s roughest neighbourhoods, and has described her rise to Broadway as “magic”.

She told pupils: “Education has the power to make you as strong as you want to be.

“You’ve got to figure out what you want to do and make it happen. If you have a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Performing arts teacher Tracey Bell, who organised the visit, first met Mrs Somerville last year, when the Broadway star taught a workshop to Airedale pupils visiting New York.

Tracey said: “It was just a one hour workshop, but myself and Judine struck up a conversation and found out we had a lot in common and exchanged emails.

“Because theatre school is so expensive, we have to work really hard at Airedale to try and get our students scholarships.

“Judine’s been doing assemblies, and inspiring all the kids, right from year 7 to year 13.”

During her time in Castleford, Mrs Somerville has given assemblies to pupils, offered staff briefings, and even helped to choreograph the school’s production of Hairspray.

She has worked closely with Go Higher West Yorkshire, which encourages pupils to pursue higher education, and on Tuesday hosted workshops for more than 130 performing arts pupils from across Wakefield, Bradford and Leeds.