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Lowestoft's Luke casts a magic spell

PUBLISHED: 09:46 18 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:00 06 July 2010

MAGIC TREAT: Luke Cook hits the stage.

MAGIC TREAT: Luke Cook hits the stage.

A YEAR ago young magician Luke Cook was doing one-night stand acts in local clubs and holiday camps.

This weekend (September 19) he finishes a 12-week season at Cromer pier after winning a talent show which has taught him new skills and opened the door to showbiz opportunities.

A YEAR ago young magician Luke Cook was doing one-night stand acts in local clubs and holiday camps.

This weekend (September 19) he finishes a 12-week season at Cromer pier after winning a talent show which has taught him new skills and opened the door to showbiz opportunities.

Now the search is on for an act to follow in his footlights - with the launch of this year's Find a Star competition - backed by the EDP and BBC Radio Norfolk.

Singers, musicians and comics - but also speciality acts such as jugglers, ventriloquists, acrobats, animal acts and street dancers - are being given the chance to compete, with the winners getting a chance to provide a spot in the famous Seaside Special show.

Bruce Stratton from pier managers Openwide International said: “We have seen a street dance act Diversity win Britain's Got Talent. If there is a Norfolk group like them out there, we would like to see them.

“Seaside Special is perhaps one of the very last remaining summer variety shows, so in a competition like this I would hope that we would attract a whole range of performers who could fit into such a show and potentially benefit in the same way that Luke has."

Last year's winner, 17-year-old Luke, had matured as a performer and gained confidence through his prize - through joining in with song and dance routines as well as doing his solo magic spot.

The youngster agreed, saying: “Through working with devisor, director and choreographer Di Cooke and the cast I have learned about stage presence and interacting with the audience - and changed my style.

“At the holiday camps I used to put over a 'typical teenager' image, but now I am in a smart suit.

“I have also joined in dancing, and some backing singing. It has been tiring but it has been a great experience which I have really enjoyed.”

Luke's performing has previously involved being ferried by his parents from their Oulton Broad home to bookings. Spending the summer away, living and learning with the cast, has been like going to university.

And talent scouts have also noticed him, with expressions of interest for future work including cruises and pantomime.

Headlining comics in the show Keith and Ben Simmons said they too had seen Luke progress during the summer, and that it was important that performers had a range of skills and versatility to make a living in showbusiness today.

Entries for Norfolk Find a Star open today and close on October 31, with successful acts being invited to audition at Cromer Pier on Saturday November 7, with the best ones going on to a showcase final, in front of an audience, the same evening. Tickets for the final are already on sale for £10 from the box office on 01263 512495.

Entrants should send details of their act, a biography, colour head and shoulders picture (and a DVD if available) to Norfolk Find a Star, The Box Office, Cromer Pier, Cromer, Norfolk, NR27 9HE.

All entrants must be aged 17 on or before April 1 2010 and able to commit to a show season and rehearsal schedule running from June to September.

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