BY YANN TEAR
A budding young performer from Fulham has been cast as the lead role in Sainsbury’s new Christmas Advert – which plays on the origins of Santa Claus.
So far, the advert has been viewed more than eight million times on YouTube, and it has been a thrilling ride for 10-year-old Chris Dunckley.
The youngster, who has attended singing, dancing and acting lessons at Stagecoach Performing Arts Fulham since he was four years old, plays the eponymous part of Nicholas the Sweep in the advert.
Filmed in Romania, the advert harks back to Dickensian London in the 1800s, in line with the 150-year history of Sainsbury’s.
Wrongly convicted of stealing a clementine from a Sainsbury’s store, Nicholas is banished into a bleak winter landscape, only for it to transpire that he will grow to one day be the famous Saint Nick.
As his first gesture of generosity, he gives all the children in the local orphanage a clementine in their stockings.
Chris said: “Getting this part in the Sainsbury’s Christmas Ad was the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.
I had to work hard but I loved every minute of it. I ran around my house singing at the top of my voice without my shirt on when I found out I’d got the part. I would love to do it again at any time.”
As well as being a talented actor, Chris is a regular for his local football club, Aspire FC, managing to juggle his Stagecoach commitments with his goalkeeping.
Chris’ mother, Jenny, said, “I am hugely proud of Chris and the hard work that he put into the process.
The auditions were rigorous, with four or five rounds to get through and he was going up against tough competition; children older than him. But he has stayed grounded, still enjoying playing football with his friends and leading a normal life.”
Principal of Stagecoach Fulham, Alison Bullman, recommended that Chris attend the audition experience days hosted by The Stagecoach Talent Agency, and it was only two months after first meeting the agency that the opportunity to audition for the advert came in.
Having worked with Chris for six years, Alison said: “Chris has a natural talent for acting, but it is the combination of this with his fantastic work ethic that has made him stand out as someone who can do it all.
“He is mature for his age, and super smart, but looks very young, which makes him perfect for roles like this. We are all really looking forward to welcoming him to class on the back of this news, it is going to be mad.”
Managing director of the Stagecoach Talent Agency, Tarquin Shaw-Young, added, “We put Chris through his paces with singing and script reading at the audition experience days, which offer green screen practice to ensure students are ready for whatever is asked of them at auditions.
“When I reviewed the tapes, I knew the agency needed to offer him representation because he was brilliant. We thought he was amazing, delivering very mature, yet natural, performances for his age.
“Chris has had a couple of good auditions, but when the Sainsbury’s opportunity came, his name was written all over it. I could tell the buzz from the casting directors because they kept calling to chase his availability.
“These opportunities are almost once-in-a-lifetime.”
Stagecoach is the world’s largest network of performing arts schools, with more than 2,000 extra-curricular performing arts schools and classes worldwide. Many of its students go on to be professionals and world-renowned actors, singers and dancers.
Early Stages classes are available for children aged four to six and Main Stages classes take place for six to 18-year-olds every weekend.
For more information about Stagecoach Fulham, visit www.stagecoach.co.uk/fulham or call 0845 202 5727.
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