West End debut for Rustington schoolboy: ‘I’m doing my dream job’

A Rustington schoolboy said his dreams have come true after making his West End debut.

Jamie O’Connor always wanted to perform on the West End.

Right to left: Jobe Hart (Billy), Jay McGuiness (Josh Baskin), Jamie O'Connor (Young Josh) at the cast during Curtain Call  of BIG The Musical. Picture: Piers Allardyce

Right to left: Jobe Hart (Billy), Jay McGuiness (Josh Baskin), Jamie O'Connor (Young Josh) at the cast during Curtain Call of BIG The Musical. Picture: Piers Allardyce

And that dream is now a reality after making his London debut in the musical Big. Jamie, 10, said: “My dream job is what I am doing right now. It is amazing and I love every second of it.”

The Rustington Community Primary School pupil plays Josh Baskin, a boy from New Jersey who grows up overnight after making a wish that came true and has to deal with the consequences while finding a way to return to normal.

Since September, he has performed alongside Jay McGuiness from boyband The Wanted as his older self, as well as Matthew Kelly and Kimberley Walsh from Girls Aloud. He said: “We all are really good mates. We have a good laugh and banter.”

Jamie, who trains at Stagecoach Performing Arts in Chichester and Jean Butterworth School of Dance in Worthing, auditioned for the role in May and now performs at the Dominion Theatre three times a week, opening the show.

He performed on press night, and was described by The Times as ‘captivating’ and The Sunday Express as ‘excellent’.

He stays with his aunt and uncle in Beckenham while fitting in schoolwork.

His father Ben said he first realised his son’s potential when he and Jamie’s mother were called in to school by his Reception class teacher, who told them he had recited the whole of the Gruffalo story to the other children.

He added: “We are very, proud of him; it is surreal seeing him up on that stage performing.

“One thing a lot of people don’t realise is how hard these children work.

“They aren’t just children from privileged backgrounds; it is normal children from normal families.”

Jamie will next star in a short film about bullying and dyslexia, slated for release in 2020.