City kids to perform at Castle with Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie will perform the final song of the night with 12 children from the city's Stage Experience acting school. Picture: Getty

Lionel Richie will perform the final song of the night with 12 children from the city's Stage Experience acting school. Picture: Getty

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It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they will remember for the rest of their lives.

A dozen city schoolchildren will take to the stage at Edinburgh Castle and perform in front of thousands of screaming fans – as the supporting choir to one of the world’s most famous pop singers.

12 children from the city's Stage Experience acting school. Picture: Neil Hanna

12 children from the city's Stage Experience acting school. Picture: Neil Hanna

Lionel Richie’s sell-out appearance at the Castle Esplanade will see him perform his catalogue of hits to a Capital audience for the first time in more than a decade.

But for his last song of the night – 1985’s We Are The World, co-written with Michael Jackson on the back of Band Aid’s Christmas success – the star will be bringing in some very special help.

Children from the city’s annual summer acting school Stage Experience, which takes place at the Playhouse, have been drafted in to give the performance an extra boost – and the youngsters can hardly believe their luck.

Come tomorrow night, 12 of them will climb on stage having been given only four days to brush up on the lyrics and perfect their delivery, with a last-minute rehearsal in the company of Richie – who won a new generation of fans during his acclaimed performance at Glastonbury – set to take place in the afternoon.

Playhouse general manager Adam Knight said the youngsters were “thrilled” to be asked to take part in the gig by Castle Concerts, which is running the event.

He said: “They felt a little bit like it was X Factor when we said they are going to be performing with Lionel Richie at the Castle. They were asked to keep it top secret.

“One of the lads said he had always wanted to perform at the Castle. I think it’s a dream come true for them. You’re never going to forget performing at Edinburgh Castle with Lionel Richie.

“They are great kids, really talented, and I think to have the opportunity to perform is just the cherry on top of the cake for them. We are working with some of the most talented kids in Edinburgh.”

And the youngsters admitted the opportunity still felt unreal – even as their excitement builds for the big day.

Andrew Hamilton, 12, from Fairmilehead, revealed the choir had been whittled down from around 30 hopefuls.

He said: “It’s really good to be able to perform – we have just been given the lyrics and then we have been rehearsing at home.”

Marie-Francel Gbaya, 12, from South Queensferry, said she still felt the whole thing was “kind of surreal”, while David Allan, 15, from Inverleith, said the experience of performing in front of thousands would be good practice for their own production of Into The Woods later this month.

Eve Buglass, 13, from Colinton, said: “It’s going to be extraordinary and amazing to be able to perform in front of lots and lots of people.”

Mark Mackie, director of Castle Concerts, said the children were brought in after Richie himself requested a local choir get involved.

He said: “It’s a great chance for the kids to get on stage with one of Motown and popular music’s greatest living legends.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com