STAGE and television star Layton Williams has taken time out of his busy performance diary to give a young York actor a mini-masterclass.

Will Darwin, 20, will play Paul in the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company production of Kiss Me, Kate from February 6 to 9, so he arranged to travel down to Sheffield to meet Layton, who has just finished a month-long run in the same role in Cole Porter's musical comedy at the Crucible.

"It was such a great opportunity," says Will. "When I arrived, the cast were rehearsing scenes because someone had fallen ill and they were slotting in understudies in case they couldn’t make it.

"Seeing a professional cast work so quickly was really interesting and, even with all this going on, Layton was very welcoming and managed to find time to speak to me. He was so down to earth."

Williams began his theatre career in the title role of Billy Elliot, The Musical in the West End, since when he has played Michael Jackson in Thriller Live, Angel in the 20th anniversary tour of Rent, Kylie in the BBC series Beautiful People and Stephen Carmichael in the BBC comedy Bad Education.

From January 28, he will be back in the West End, playing the title role of Jamie New in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the story of a 16-year-old drag queen, at the Apollo Theatre, London.

Will will be hoping to follow Williams into a professional acting career. At present he is auditioning for drama school in between rehearsals for next month’s show at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre.

Grateful for the chance to meet Williams, he says: "He managed to slot in time to come and see me and get a picture with him, while all the rehearsing was going on.We had a chat about playing Paul and he also said how he sometimes found it hard remembering which order the words go in Too Darn Hot, which gave me some relief as this is something I've been struggling with too.

"The Crucible version of Kiss Me, Kate was amazing, sounded great and had a lot of dancing.I liked Layton's performance of Too Darn Hot, which he sung extremely well, especially while doing a complex dance routine at the same time! I don't think I'll be attempting that! You could tell he had fun and loved performing the song. I'll try and take that forward and just have fun with it."

Tickets for the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company's 7.30pm evening performances and 2.30pm Saturday matinee are on sale on 01904 50 1935 or at

Charles Hutchinson