A theatre group in east Durham is making a song and dance thanks to funding from a major housing association.

Seaham Youth Theatre Group is staging a full costume performance of Oklahoma, complete with a live orchestra, thanks to funding from County Durham Housing Group.

The volunteer run theatre group works with young people aged nine to 18 to increase their confidence while teaching skills in acting, singing and dancing.

Oklahoma is the latest in a long line of musicals staged by the group and will feature professional quality lighting, sound systems and costumes on a specially designed set. Rehearsals have been taking place on Friday evenings in preparation for a four-night run at East Durham College on 20-23 February.

County Durham Housing Group has provided £500 towards the cost of costumes and scenery for the musical through its ‘group grant’ programme.

County Durham Housing Group Community Investment Team Leader, Angela Stobbart, said: “The young people who have been involved in this performance have put so much into the show, but they’re getting a lot out of it too. There’s no doubt that they’ll have made new friends and picked up a host of new skills during the process.

“For only a relatively small amount of money, we’ve been able to support these young people, but also provide a positive and tangible activity for them all to do on a Friday night.”

Gillian Biffetti from Seaham Youth Theatre Group said: “We are so grateful to County Durham Housing Group for this grant to help towards the cost of our latest production Oklahoma. Our group gives youngsters the opportunity to experience the full remit of performing arts which in turn gives them

invaluable life skills. They also make friends and memories for life while having a lots of fun.”

Full details of the group grant scheme are available at www.countydurhamhousinggroup.co.uk/groupgrant , by calling 0300 1311 999 or emailing groupgrant@cdhg.co.uk

The application process for ‘group grant’ has been kept deliberately simple and funding decisions are made monthly to ensure local groups don’t wait for lengthy periods to find out if they have been successful.

Any community organisation, non-profit making group, charity or school working in the areas served by County Durham Housing Group is eligible for the scheme. Applications are welcome from groups in most of east Durham, central Durham and Weardale, plus towns and villages like Pity Me, Bishop Auckland and Sherburn.