A SCHOOLBOY has won a once in a lifetime role taking the titular part in the English language world premiere of a play based on a beloved French book.

Ronan Powell, 9, from Hove, won the leading part in the musical adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince, one of the most beloved French books of all time, which is premiering at Brighton Open Air Theatre.

The production, titled A Little Prince, is based on the best selling novel and the Brighton performance marks the first time it has been adapted in English since being premiered in Spain in 2014.

Barcelona based theatre company The Amateurs spent a week in Brighton and Hove auditioning candidates who came from all over the country, but eventually Ronan, who is in year five at Stanford Junior School, was selected.

He takes acting, singing and dancing lessons at The Theatre Workshop, based at Brighton and Hove High School, and one day dreams of being a professional actor.

This marks his first ever professional commitment and will see him performing for nearly an hour and a half, dancing and singing eight of the show's songs.

Director Ivan Andrade says: “When you cast a boy for a role—especially one like the Little Prince—, what you are looking for is a real Little Prince: someone with that kind of purity and innocence, yet strong and confident to say the truth no matter what, in front of anyone.

"That’s what the Little Prince will bring to Brighton when he visits us: a clear and straightforward view of what is.

"And that’s what Ronan brought into the room when he auditioned for us: the wisdom of sincerity. We knew from the very beginning that he was our Little Prince.”

The story was written in 1943 and tells the tale of a pilot stranded in a desert.

His meeting with a young prince fallen to Earth from an asteroid changes the course of his life.

It has been adapted for the stage by Mr Andrade and is scored by multi-award winning musician Marco Mezquida.

The production is part of the Brighton Fringe and runs at the Brighton Open Air Theatre, Dyke Road, from May 20 to May 22.

To get tickets go to www.brightonfringe.org.