Teenager who starred in Matilda back in the West End after major surgery

Fifteen-year-old Lucy-Mae Beacock heard she had won role in new musical on day after she was discharged from hospital


A JCoSS pupil who travelled to America for life-changing surgery is to appear in a new West End musical.

Lucy-Mae Beacock, 15, who previously starred as Matilda in the hit RSC production, was born with the degenerative spinal condition spina bifida.

Almost three years ago, she developed scoliosis, which causes curvature of the spine and can stunt growth.

If left untreated, the condition would have worsened and standard surgery, involving the fusion of metal rods to her spine, could have spelt an end to Lucy-Mae’s blossoming showbusiness career.

Last year her parents launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for pioneering surgery in America. Friends, family and many complete strangers gave generously to the gofundme page, which eventually topped £142,000 – allowing Lucy-Mae to have the operation at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital in April.

The procedure, known as vertebral body tethering, was such a success that now – just four months later – Lucy will hit the boards again in an all-singing, all-dancing role in 13 The Musical.

The story focuses on Evan Goldman, a Jewish boy from New York who in the run-up to his barmitzvah is plucked from his fast-paced city life and plopped into a sleepy Indiana town following his parents’ divorce.

The show, which runs for only one week at the Ambassadors Theatre, follows Evan as he gets to grips with his new school and peers, one of whom is played by Lucy-Mae.

She discovered she had landed the part the day after she was discharged from hospital. 

She told the JC: "We got the email and it made me so much more determined to get better in time for the show."

The cast has been in intensive rehearsals since the end of July, ahead of the opening night on Wednesday. 

"The show is looking incredible seeing as we pulled it together in two weeks. It's going to be awesome."

Her character is "a bit of an idiot" according to Lucy-Mae and has a line where she says that having a barmitzvah means having to be circumcised and speak backwards. 

The irony, however, is that Lucy-Mae helped the cast with some of the Jewish content. "They were going to include a haftorah and I was helping them, but they couldn't quite it get right so it was left out," she said. 

Ultimately, she would like to "perform in shows for the rest of my life" - a genuine possibility, thanks to the surgery. 

 “I’m so pleased for her,” her mother Debbie told the JC.

“I was chaperoning one of the rehearsals last week and got quite emotional. To see her being able to do everything is quite incredible.”

Paying tribute to the many people who supported the family in the run-up to the operation, Mrs Beacock said: “People were amazing… I really can’t thank them enough. There were donations from lots of people we don’t even know. And besides all our friends and family, there were also some large donations from two of the trustees of her school.”

Lucy-Mae  said of those who helped the fundraising drive: "Honestly, they saved my career and I can't thank them enough."

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