Callum steps into musical spotlight at Milton Keynes Theatre
Leighton child actor bags role in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
LEIGHTON child actor Callum Buchanan is sinking to new depths for his first major role on stage.
The eight-year-old, from Plantation Road, is appearing in the smash hit musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which stops off for a three-week run at Milton Keynes Theatre starting next Tuesday.
The star-struck youngster plays a raggedy little sewer-child called Toby who has a run-in with the evil Child Catcher in the musical.
Callum, who attends St Leonard's Lower School, Heath and Reach, is following in the family business.
His grandfather, Keith Hamshere, was the original Oliver Twist in the 1960 West End musical Oliver!, starring alongside Ron Moody as Fagin.
The actor also appeared in a 1960s Disney film with Hayley Mills before becoming a stills photographer for the movie industry.
Trying to win the role in one of the world's top musicals involved Callum, who attends Stagecoach theatre school in Milton Keynes, in a series of gruelling auditions.
His proud mum, Tansey, said: "First of all the children did a DVD and that was sent off to the production team who reduced the original number of applicants down to 70.
"Then we had to go to Bletchley and audition. It was like something out of the X Factor, it was really emotional.
"One group was dismissed after 90 minutes and there wasn't a dry eye in the house and then 90 minutes later another group were sent out.
"Finally you were left with 20, split into two groups and of these six in each team were given speaking parts.
"This is the biggest role Callum's ever had. He briefly appeared in Carmen at the Royal & Derngate and in another opera, Turnadot, at The Grove."
Callum became interested in drama at the age of four when he and his friend since birth, Eve Pritchard, were enrolled in classes at Stagecoach close to Eve's home.
Both pals have won parts in the musical but in separate teams, meaning they won't appear together on stage.
Said Tansey: "Callum has always liked to be the centre of attention. He's very confident, even a little bossy, and has a great sense of humour.
"My father grew up on the stage and I think Callum has got the acting bug from him.
"Even if he doesn't want to do this as a career it's a great experience for him. Learning his lines will help with revision. It's a great confidence builder.
"He's very excited. He has been up for a couple of adverts and not got them but he doesn't seem to mind if he's knocked back a couple of times".
Callum, who has a passion for Hornby trains, wants to be a train driver, architect or an actor, when he grows up. In his spare time he plays tennis, swims and is a member of the Cubs.
In the meantime he already has a career as a radio presenter.
"Callum is obsessed with phoning up Heart Radio and he's always calling and leaving messages," said his mum.
"We had to physically stop him in the end but they loved him so much they'd use sound bites from his messages on their programmes."
Callum will appear in 12 performances of the show, including some matinees.
"His school has been very supportive," said Tansey. "But he will be one tired little boy as he does like his sleep!"
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang runs from February 23 to March 13. For tickets call the box office 0844 871 7652 or go on-line www.ambassadortickets.com/miltonkeynes
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