From football field to stage

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A Newstead man famed for his football has become a singing sensation after his first appearance on the stage.

Junior Harding has received rave reviews after appearing at the city’s Theatre Royal in the latest production by Nottingham Operatic Society.

Junior took one of the principal roles as Curly McLain in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma after a singing lesson with one of the musical directors led to an audition.

Now the 27 year-old is hoping to hang-up his shin pads and ditch the floodlights for the spotlight.

“I loved it,” said Junior of Hucknall Road. “It was without doubt the best experience of my life.

“It was all new to me and I had a big weight on my shoulders as it was my first time on stage and in a principal role too.”

The former Hucknall Town player, who currently plays for Linby, has had no connection with the stage whilst growing up preferring the football field to treading the boards and didn’t even show his talents on the karaoke.

“I was interested in theatre but football was my thing at school and I never auditioned for any shows before this one,” added Junior.

“A few of my football team mates came to see the show but I kind of played it low key as I knew I would get loads of ribbing - which I did - but it’s all good banter.”

However, after his first taste of performing, the property landlord has definitely got the acting and singing bug.

“I’d love to do more now and will be looking at how to get into other shows,” added Junior. “If I can make a living out of doing something I love then why not?”

Junior is hoping to appear in Nottingham Operatic Society’s next production which will be The Full Monty and is set to be performed next year.

“I don’t know what part I will play yet or whether I will be taking my kit off as the auditions don’t start until the new year.”

A lady from Hucknall who went to see the show was raving about Junior’sstarring role.

“I thought his performance was amazing,” said Ann Day of Common Lane, Hucknall. “I just can’t believe it was his first time on stage as he gave such a professional performance.

“I have been to the West End in London and seen many shows but this was upwas up there with them. I was very impressed with Junior-he just couldn’t have been better.

“I think he will go far with his wonderful baritone voice and he is handsome too.

“Junior Harding is certainly one to watch for in the future.”