Musical theatre role for Sheffielder after TV talent show praise

Jessica Hobson rehearsing in the part of Nancy for Oliver!
Jessica Hobson rehearsing in the part of Nancy for Oliver!
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A Killamarsh youngster who was praised for her star quality voice on TV talent show The Voice is starring in a special charity production of much-loved musical Oliver! as Nancy.

Jessica Hobson, a performing arts graduate from Sheffield College who now teaches singing, appeared on BBC show The Voice in April.

She said: “Every episode they have a tearjerker. They did a big interview before I came on. I was crying and saying about all my knockbacks.

“I’m scared of getting another knockback. They were really nice to me.

“Will.I.Am said I had a star quality voice. They all begged me to go back next year.

“Before I went I really wanted Will.I.Am to pick me. He gave me his number.”

She said that she believes she wasn’t picked to be coached by any of the judges because it was near the end of the audition process and she was too similar to some of the singers they had already chosen.

Jessica was also on Britain’s Got Talent two years ago, when she got to the live semi-final but didn’t progress any further. Her performance split the judges as Simon Cowell wasn’t impressed. His criticism reduced Jessica to tears on stage.

Looking back, she says that she felt she was just a number on Britain’s Got Talent but was impressed that the whole crew of The Voice knew her name. The producers have also stayed in touch to find out how she’s doing.

There’s no doubt Jess won’t let the TV knockbacks stop her: “I’ve always said my main goal is to hear myself on the radio. I’ve just got an EP together and hopefully one day I will get signed by a record company.”

Jess is appearing at Tramlines next month and is also supporting Sheffielder Lucy Spraggan, an X Factor finalist last year. They are entertaining people taking part in the Rotherham Hospice Midnight Memory Walk at the Magna Centre tomorrow, Friday (June 21).

She is also busily rehearsing for her role in Oliver!, a production which has been put on by Dinnington-based charity Safe@Last.

She said: “All the music in Oliver! is absolutely amazing. Nancy’s got some of the best songs.

“I like the character. Like me, she’s really feisty. I’ll bring that to the role.”

The charity helps youngsters who have run away from home. Founder Hilary Massarella and some of her volunteers thought that Oliver! was a perfect fundraiser as it tells Charles Dickens’ story of runaway orphan boy Oliver Twist.

Hilary said: “Some of our volunteers are very talented. For quite some time we wanted to do a production.

“When we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money we did everything to pass the time. We sang quite a lot of songs from the shows and pop songs.

“We got carried away with the idea of doing a musical and we decided we had to do Annue or Oliver! because they are very appropriate to us.”

Hilary said lots of volunteers have come forward to help and the Lyric Theatre in Dinnington has been very supportive.

Tickets have just gone on sale for the show, which takes place at the Lyric on November 8 and 9. For details and bookings, go to http://www.weekendatlast.co.uk