On Tuesday evening, the great and good of the dance, theatre, film and TV industry came out in force to enjoy an unforgettable evening of stellar performances in celebration of the prolific and dearly-loved director choreographer, Gillian Lynne DBE at The Gillian Lynne Theatre, Drury Lane in London.
£70,000 was raised for the Foundation which has been set up to enable talented young performers to achieve their dreams by providing scholarships and grants to reach their full potential in the choreographic arts, drama and musical theatre.
Peter Land is delighted to announce J.R. Ballantyne as the first recipient of the Foundation. J.R. received funding towards his drama school fees enabling him to complete his training at Arts Education. In the last few weeks J.R has made his professional and West End debut in Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at The London Palladium. Credits whilst training include Henry and Dance Captain in Disney’s Newsies and Christopher Belling in Curtains and has been cast in the forthcoming UK tour of Curtains.
J.R. Ballantyne said: “I am extremely grateful to the Lynne and Land Foundation for believing in and supporting me and I am honoured to be the first recipient of this scholarship. Without their help I would not have completed my final year of training at ArtsEd and may very well have been robbed of the opportunity to accept the two job offers I have whilst in training. Thanks to their support I was able to complete my final year of training; attain a work visa and therefore able to accept the two job offers I have had, the first of which – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opened previews last week at The London Palladium; and I am now in a position to graduate from ArtsEd this September.
Unfortunately I never had the good fortune to work with Dame Gillian but through the experiences I’ve had since being supported by the foundation – leaving ArtsEd, working with her dear friend Andrew Lloyd Webber on Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at The London Palladium where she achieved great success throughout her career – through these experiences I have come to feel very close to her and her enduring spirit. She has always been and will continue to be a great idol to me and a role model for the benefits of hard work, determination and kindness.”
Peter Land commented: “J.R. is the perfect first recipient. With the Foundation’s financial intervention, he was able to graduate and land his first job in the West End in Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at The London Palladium. He is talented in all the areas that Gillie loved to foster: dancing, acting and singing. He also plays a mean piano.”
A year and a day after Gillian sadly passed away, ‘To Gillie, With Love’ saw stars of the world of dance, theatre, film and TV come together to show their admiration and thanks to this unique and remarkable individual who helped, guided and inspired so many.
Celebrating iconic moments from her lifelong and extensive career, the evening featured Anthony Barclay; Christopher Biggins; Sierra Boggess; Greg Castiglioni; Lorna Dallas; Katy Elizabeth-Treharne, Ben Forster; Anna Francolini; Jason Gardiner; Nickolas Grace; Celia Graham, Michael Howe; Ramin Karimloo; Hannah Kenna Thomas; Jeremy Kerridge; Beverley Knight; Peter Land; Emily Langham; Iain Mackay; Robert Meadmore; New Adventures Company; Caroline O’Connor; Jonjo O’Neil; Richard O’Brien; Sergei Polunin; Peter Polycarpou, Stuart Matthew Price; Hugh Quarshie; Jack Rebaldi; Liz Robertson; Tamara Rojo; Myra Sands, Wayne Sleep; Una Stubbs, Julia Sutton, Hannah Waddingham and Elisha Willis. The evening also featured a choir with students from Arts Ed and the Royal Academy of Music and ensemble of dancers.
The evening was curated and produced by Peter Land and Lean Two Productions and directed and staged by Chrissie Cartwright, Gillian’s long-time collaborator on Cats, musical direction by Peter McCarthy, lighting design by Michael Robertson, sound design by Adam Fisher. The evening was supported by LW Theatres and Cameron Mackintosh Ltd.
Gillian’s direction, staging and choreography broke records across the globe with her collaboration on two of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most famous musicals: Cats and The Phantom of the Opera which can still be seen nightly throughout the world. The New London Theatre, where Gillian pioneered her ground-breaking choreography on Cats in 1981, was lovingly renamed in her honour by Andrew Lloyd Webber in June 2018 making Lynne the first non-royal woman to have a West End Theatre named after her.
As a producer, director, choreographer and performer, throughout the course of her life Gillian was involved in more than 60 productions in the West End, 11 feature films and hundreds of TV productions.
For further information about the Foundation please visit http://www.lynneandlandfoundation.co.uk
Photo credit: David Jensen