Lara casting the family spell

Charlie Griffiths, Paul Harris, Lara Harris and Claire Simmo on stage at the Theatre Royal.
Charlie Griffiths, Paul Harris, Lara Harris and Claire Simmo on stage at the Theatre Royal.
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It’s hardly a surprise talented Lara Harris cast a spell on theatre bosses - her dad is man behind some of the most magical scenes in the Harry Potter films!

The eight-year-old, auditioned for a role as a munchkin in the Wizard of Oz, while visiting her grandmother in the summer.

She’s following in the footsteps of her dad, Paul, who starred as Cinderella’s ugly sister at the same theatre before finding global fame as a choreographer.

Paul attended Ashton Grammar School - now Birchall High - before going on to become a top dancer and then a world-famous choreographer.

His film credits include the laser scene in Entrapment and scenes from Harry Potter.

There is even an interactive station at the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour featuring an interactive hologram of Paul teaching the wand combat moves he devised to millions of visitors a year!

Paul last performed at St Helens Theatre Royal as (the better looking) Ugly Sister in Cinderella in 1989/90.

He said: “I am so proud that my daughter will be following in my footsteps at St Helens Theatre Royal, where I spent so much time as a performer and spectator in my formative years.

“Lara is so happy to be performing in my home town and this happiness has spread throughout the whole of our family. I’ll be making sure she has a special spell up her sleeve, just in case the Wicked Witch gets a bit too close.”

Lara decided to attend auditions this summer merely for experience while visiting her grandmother.

The daughter of former Dove model Anna Luong, she is excited that her dad’s side of the family, who all live in St Helens and Wigan, will be able to see her perform - including her number one fan, her one-year-old sister Ava.

The youngster, who goes to school in London, has already taken part in shows in her local theatre in Surrey with both her local Musical Theatre School and her RAD Ballet school, but The Wizard of Oz at the Theatre Royal will mark her professional theatre debut.

Lara joins a glamorous gathering of Theatre Royal favourites including Radio City 97.6 Claire Simmo as Glinda, Charlotte Gallagher as Dorothy, Corrie’s Nick Cochrane as Scarecrow, Simon Foster as Cowardly Lion and Charlie Griffiths as Eva the Evil Witch.

Theatre boss Chantelle Nolan said: “We were delighted by Lara’s audition and had no idea of her theatrical heritage before we cast her in the role. The standard this year was so high and Lara shone in her first performance for us. I have no doubt that she will shine during the production.”

Lara is one of a talented group of local youngsters which will take on the roles of the friendly Munchkins.”