New­bie is up on stage with stars

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Leighton Stich­bury is in act­ing heaven after mak­ing his pro­fes­sional the­atre de­but along­side some of New Zealand’s best known tal­ent.

He is star­ring with Michael Hurst and Theresa Healey in the Auck­land The­atre Company’s Trees Be­neath The Lake.

Stich­bury is thrilled have picked up the part.

‘‘This au­di­tion was my first and I didn’t ex­pect much from it,’’ he says.

‘‘I was re­ally ex­cited when I got the part, I kind of frea-

to ked out. I hadn’t even read my script, but I started telling ev­ery­one.’’

Trees Be­neath The Lake has been writ­ten by play­wright Arthur Meek and fol­lows a fam­ily’s strug­gle with fi­nan­cial tur­moil and one character’s plight to save his mar­riage, for­tune and rep­u­ta­tion.

Stich­bury plays Ross, the son of character Wil­liam Camp­bell, a fi­nan­cial wizard un­der scru­tiny. Ross is a phys­i­cally large, well­ma­tured 14-year-old boy.

‘‘I like to re­fer to him as the lump,’’ he says.

‘‘He spends most of his time sit­ting on the couch and play­ing Xbox. He was bul­lied in school, so his mother de­cided to home­school him. He is some­one who takes things very lit­er­ally.’’

Work­ing with such an ex­pe­ri­enced crop of ac­tors hasn’t over­whelmed the 18-year-old, but the pres­sure is un­like any­thing he’s ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore.

‘‘We train Mon­day to Fri­day, which is a lot of pres- sure. It is a very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence from any­thing I have had be­fore, es­pe­cially com­par­ing it to school.’’

Pre­vi­ously Stich­bury starred in sev­eral pro­duc­tions while at school, in­clud­ing Pride and Prej­u­dice and Wind in the Wil­lows.

Di­rec­tor Si­mon Ben­nett says the new­comer is a per­fect fit for the part of Ross.

‘‘The character is quite trou­bled so we needed some­one who could play vul­ner­a­bil­ity as well as some­one who had a good sense comic tim­ing,’’ he says.

‘‘It was a big ask and Leighton was head and shoul­ders above any­one else who au­di­tioned. He is a good ac­tor who plays the truth of a sit­u­a­tion and en­gages strongly with his fel­low ac­tors,’’ he says.

Stich­bury hopes to go to Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School in Wellington.

Trees Be­neath The Lake is play­ing at Auck­land’s Maid­ment The­atre un­til Septem­ber 27.

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Don't go: Leighton Stich­bury shares a tense scene with cast­mate Brooke Wil­liams.

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