A NEW academy aimed at nurturing the best of young drama and music talent has opened in Newport.

Burleigh Academy of Performing Arts in Llanthewy Road caters for budding stage performers of all ages and is the dream of 54-year-old Sarah Lucas.

She bought the building, a former Baptist church, for £15,000 and has since spent £230,000 on renovations.

Her next objective is to raise the cash to build a recording studio. "Our aim is to ensure that all young talent from the Newport area gets the nurturing they need to succeed," said Mrs Lucas, who lives nearby in Spencer Road.

"The academy provides classes in drama, dancing of all types including, tap, jazz, ballet and disco for young people aged three upwards to adults." \ Until Mrs Lucas took over the building it was empty. She told the Argus last year that it was being used as a haunt for drug addicts.

Now the old church has taken on a new lease of life and 100 children from around the Newport area attend classes of varying types.

To mark its launch, a three-day production of Aladdin was performed at the academy. More than 500 people saw the show and many more attended a special day of activities where they had the chance to meet the patron of the academy, Newport-born star of BBC1 Merseybeat Josephine D'arby who takes the role of Jodie.

Ex-professional singer Mrs Lucas, who played the part of the genie in Aladdin, said: "I've wanted to own a theatre since I was a child but it became more important to me when my 11-year-old daughter Alex became interested in singing and dancing."

The Academy is now closed for the Christmas break but classes are due to restart on January 4.

For further information call Mrs Lucas on 01633-262002.

PICTURED: The Empress, Jenny Pullin,in Aladdin at the Burleigh Academy in Newport.