Two of the West End’s unsung stars, Harry Gabriel and Jo Hawes, could be carrying the Olympic torch as it makes its way through London next year.
The pair, nominated for the honour by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), has made it through to the second stage of London 2012’s torch relay selection process, in which 28,000 nominees will be whittled down to 2,012 torchbearers.
Gabriel has manned the stage door at the Shaftesbury theatre for over 30 years, a landmark that was recognised with a special performance of Flashdance The Musical in October last year. He first joined the venue for the 1980 production of They’re Playing Our Song. Though productions have come and gone since then, Gabriel has been ever present.
Children’s casting director Hawes has cast kids for more than 75 shows in the last 15 years, among them some of the West End’s biggest hits. With a wealth of experience behind her, she is now doing even more to help young theatre fans achieve their ambitions of performing on the world’s most popular stages by giving audition masterclasses and writing a book about children and theatre.
Hawes continued to help kids experience life on the professional stage even after the sudden death of her eldest daughter, Rebecca, who died following a brain tumour in 2007.
Hawes commented: “I am honoured to have been nominated by SOLT as an Olympic torchbearer and delighted to have been put through to the next stage of the process. It would be an experience like no other to carry the torch on behalf of London theatre. In 2012, when the eyes of the world will be on the capital, it is important that London theatre is represented since it is so vital to the life of our wonderful city. To be chosen as a representative would be amazing and on a very personal level I would also be running in memory of my precious daughter, Rebecca.”
Gabriel and Hawes will have to wait until early December to find out if they have been chosen to be an Olympic torchbearer. If they are successful, they will join around 2,000 others chosen by London 2012 and around 6,000 torchbearers selected by London 2012’s presenting partners Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung, to take the Olympic torch on its 70-day journey around the UK.