South Shields dancer who first performed aged 20 is set to play leading lady in The Customs House latest show

A 20-year-old has her sights set on a career in musical theatre after making her way from dancer to leading lady in a popular family show.

By Sian Cripps
Thursday, 18 July, 2019, 11:01
Arbuthnot and Pals’ Adventures in Oz runs from Tuesday, July 23, to Thursday, July 25.

Lori Smedley, from South Shields, stars alongside Davey ‘Arbuthnot’ Hopper in Arbuthnot and Pals’ Adventures in Oz at The Customs House this month.

Her character, Cecilia, was first introduced in the February half-term show, Arbuthnot and Pal’s Detective Agency – and Arbuthnot developed a bit of a crush on her.

But Lori has appeared in previous Arbuthnot shows as principal dancer, as well as dancing for ten years in the annual pantomime at The Customs House.

20-year-old Lori Smedley

She said: “I was two when I started dancing at South Tyneside Dance Workshop. My first experience with The Customs House was Sing-A-Long-A Sound of Music. I was in the audience and I was chosen to go up.

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“I was dressed at Gretl and singing with the cast and I loved it. I knew then that was what I wanted to do. Lumsdale Theatre Arts and South Tyneside Dance Workshop have both been the foundation of everything that I have done.”

Lori auditioned for a dancing role in And The Cow Jumped Into The Woods after helping out with the younger dancers in the first Arbuthnot show, And The Cow Jumped Over the Moon. She has also appeared in Puddles’ Big Adventure and Puddles’ Pirate Adventure.

She said: “I just feel so honoured to be part of this show. There are so many talented young performers in the north east. I’ve got lots to do in this show, which is amazing. Rehearsals are going really well and I’m loving it!”

Lori has just finished the first year of a musical theatre degree at Newcastle College and appeared in its production of Urinetown – The Musical in May. She also teaches at the Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts in Sunderland.

“I just want to keep branching out and doing more things,” she said. “I’m really interested in teaching as I love working with kids - I think that’s why I enjoy being in kids’ shows so much - but I love performing as well,” Lori added.