The mother of a Catholic schoolboy who plays the lead role in a brand new major TV Christmas movie has said the family’s faith has been central to her son’s success.
Eddie Karanja, a student at Ratcliffe College in Leicester, will appear alongside stars David Walliams and Sheridan Smith in Jack and the Beanstalk After Ever After on Sky One.
Eddie takes the lead role as Jack in this original family tale, which is told in the style of Walliams’ best-selling children’s books and deals with the events following the ‘happily ever after’ ending of the original story.
The fairy-tale features an interesting twist, as Jack (Eddie) discovers the Giant (Walliams) is not dead, merely concussed and suffering memory loss. Jack pretends they’re friends to avoid being eaten and during the adventure, Jack and the Giant discover they have more in common than they thought and learn to work together.
Eddie said: “I’ve always enjoyed singing, dancing and acting and it was an amazing experience – so much fun! It was so good to actually see behind the scenes of the production and understand more about how these shows are created.”
Eddie is no stranger to the spotlight as he has recently been cast as Michael Darling in the Leicester DeMontfort Hall production of Peter Pan, as well as Kurt Von Trapp in The Sound of Music at the Little Theatre.
Eddie’s Parents, John and Maggie, said: “Eddie went for another audition in London and got a part to be in Motown the Musical, UK tour to play the role young Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Berry Gordie.”
They added: “Ratcliffe College have provided Eddie with opportunities from the start, including; Drama Club, Musical Theatre, School Choir and LAMDA. The school, family and friends have all fully supported and encouraged him in everything he has done so far; we are all so very proud of him.”
Eddie’s mum also believes his and the family’s faith has been central to his success.
“Eddie has always been interested in acting, dancing and being on stage. From an early age he cherished being in school plays and he took it very seriously – sometimes too seriously! – learning the nativity lines till late at night.
“His and our family’s faith in God has been a pillar to lean on and also his love of reading in church and serving at the altar. Being in a school and among people who share common beliefs has helped us support Eddie and as parents we just let him be himself and nurture his God given talent.”
Eddie really is a credit to the school and an inspiration to others, a sentiment shared by Ratcliffe College Headmaster, Mr Jonathan Reddin, who said: “Here at Ratcliffe we really do encourage big ideas and Eddie’s story is an example of how we nurture the God-given talent in all of our students, we are excited about his future.”
Walliams and Smith also sang Eddie’s praises, going so far as to name him the real star of the show.
“He was just so sweet and he was always asking questions. He just wanted to learn. He picked it up so quickly – I was so impressed,” Smith told BT.com.
“It’s so lovely when you see those kids because it comes across on camera – the unaffected and not kind of precocious kids, like stagey kids. He worked so well as Jack because you can see what a little sweetie he is.”
Walliams added: “The problem is, you see a child give a brilliant performance in something – like I’ve just watched The Witches and there’s a couple of brilliant kids in there – you go ‘Oh let’s get them’. And you find out they are now 38 – by the time the film’s been made and is out, the kids have grown up.
“So you have to find people who are generally not hugely experienced. He wasn’t, but he was instantly very loveable.
“You’ve got to be rooting for Jack in the story and Eddie was a delight.”
Jack and the Beanstalk After Ever After will air on Wednesday 23rd December at 8pm on Sky One. It will also be available on streaming service NOW TV.
Picture: Eddie as Jack.