Jack bat­tled ME, then bagged West End dream

Rochdale Observer - - NOSTALGIA - [email protected]­plc.com @em­malouise­curry

AYOUNG man who spent years in­ca­pac­i­tated by a chronic ill­ness is set to take a lead­ing role on stage in the West End.

Jack Whit­tle, aged 24, of Clay Lane, Bam­ford, will play Sam Mon­aghan in The Com­edy About a Bank Rob­bery at Lon­don’s Cri­te­rion Theatre un­til Novem­ber 2019, af­ter be­ing an un­der­study for the role for a year.

Jack had been in sixth form at Bury Gram­mar School, pre­par­ing for a ca­reer in ac­coun­tancy, when he be­came ill with myal­gic en­cephalomyeli­tis (ME), aged 17.

The neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tion which causes mus­cle pain and in­tense ex­haus­tion, left him house­bound for two years, liv­ing at home with his par­ents and some­times so ill that he couldn’t even climb the stairs.

He be­gan to re-eval­u­ate his life and de­cided that, if he ever got bet­ter, he would do what he re­ally wanted to and pur­sue a ca­reer in act­ing.

When he started to re­cover, Jack en­rolled in a foun­da­tion course at ALRA North in Wi­gan.

He went on to study at the Guild­ford School of Act­ing, where he was nom­i­nated for Stu­dent Per­former of the Year in the Stephen Sond­heim So­ci­ety Awards, and grad­u­ated last year with first class honours.

“Given how ill I was just a few years ago, it is pretty un­be­liev­able,” Jack said.

“I’d like my story to give hope to peo­ple with ME. I know not ev­ery­one is go­ing to per­form in the West End, but I hope my story shows that a full re­cov­ery is pos­si­ble.

“The Com­edy About a Bank Rob­bery is not a nor­mal show – as well as the act­ing de­mands, it’s also a mas­sively phys­i­cal per­for­mance.

“I ad­mired the Mis­chief Theatre troupe while I was train­ing at Guild­ford and now I get to work with them on one of their West End hits.

“It’s a fan­tas­tic show, a love story with real old­school far­ci­cal hu­mour and some epic stunts thrown in.

“In a sense, hav­ing had ME still makes me a bet­ter ac­tor to­day. You can’t worry about peo­ple judg­ing you or sec­ond guess your­self while you’re on stage, you have to trust your im­pulses while be­ing creative and open enough to try new ideas.”

Jack’s dad Terry said: “As a fam­ily, we had the most ter­ri­ble time try­ing to find some­thing that would make him bet­ter, speak­ing to ex­perts all over the world about what could help.

“For him to have come through that pe­riod and go on to achieve what he has is amaz­ing. We’re hugely proud and had no idea he had such hid­den tal­ent.”

●●Jack Whit­tle in The Com­edy About a Bank Rob­bery

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