A BARNSLEY-BORN theatre director who has ‘rallied the troops’ to keep theatre alive during the coronavirus pandemic has been nominated for a Proud of Barnsley award for his tireless efforts.

Lee Semley, who started the theatre group LS Theatre Productions around 12 years ago, has been praised for entertaining the borough throughout lockdown despite many of his upcoming shows being cancelled.

Lee, from Kendray, has built the theatre company himself with no outside financial support or backing from funding organisations and instead survives from show to show.

He said: “Theatre is still alive and well in Barnsley despite the closures during lockdown.

“It was important to us to keep performing as it can often be a lifeline for people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“Even though we weren’t able to perform, we tried to reach out to new people on our Facebook page through virtual events.

“I organised Friday night Karaoke Nights where people who just loved to sing, no matter how good they were, could get that opportunity to perform from their homes.

“It was amazing to see people from all over the borough get involved with this when life was really tough.”

Lee believes that local theatre is essential to keep people smiling – especially throughout the pandemic.

“My aim has always been to give people an opportunity to perform who may not have had chance before.

“Anyone is welcome in our LS Theatre Productions family. We will continue to keep the light on for local musical theatre when times are more turbulent.

“I absolutely love theatre and love this group and I’m proud that we’ve been able to run many successful shows and fundraisers off of our own backs.”

Lee’s efforts with the theatre company has landed him a nomination at this year’s Proud of Barnsley awards in the Exceptional Achievement category.

“This is completely unexpected and I’m really overwhelmed. I just enjoy doing what I love.

“The arts can bring a light on the darkest of days and I’m proud that people have embraced us in this way.

“We’re looking forward to performing for audiences in Barnsley for years to come.”