A foundation set up in the name of choreographer Gillian Lynne to support young performers has revealed its first grant recipient.
It comes as the foundation announces that £70,000 has been raised for the trust at a special event, which was held a year after Lynne died, at the West End theatre that now bears her name.
The Lynne and Land Foundation, named after the Cats choreographer and her husband Peter Land, has awarded its first grant to performer JR Ballantyne. It will go towards his final set of drama school fees for ArtsEd, which he will leave this summer.
Ballantyne’s first professional job is in the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at the London Palladium.
Ballantyne, who is from New Zealand, said the funding from the Lynne and Land Foundation has allowed him to complete his training, attain a work visa in the UK and land his first job.
He said: “I am extremely grateful to the Lynne and Land Foundation for believing in and supporting me and I am honoured to be the first recipient of this scholarship. Without its help I would not have completed my final year of training at ArtsEd and may well have been robbed of the opportunity to accept the two job offers I have had while in training.”
Ballantyne’s grant was announced at a special event, To Gillie, With Love, which took place on July 2, a year and a day after Lynne died in July 2018, aged 92.
Organisers said £70,000 was raised at the event, which will go towards providing further grants and scholarships for young dance, drama and musical theatre talent.
Performers at the event included Sierra Boggess, Christopher Biggins, Ben Foster, Beverley Knight, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Sergei Polunin and Una Stubbs.