Newbie is up on stage with stars
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.
Don't go: Leighton Stichbury shares a tense scene with castmate Brooke Williams.