Rula takes the stage in memory of son James Jonathon

Stepping out: Caitlin Turner, Chris Testa, Rula Papadopoulos, Aliyah Santamaria, Vivian Ngo and Sofia Buttel will perform a song in honour of Rula's son James Jonathan.

Stepping out: Caitlin Turner, Chris Testa, Rula Papadopoulos, Aliyah Santamaria, Vivian Ngo and Sofia Buttel will perform a song in honour of Rula's son James Jonathan.

When Rula Papadopoulos takes the stage next week to belt out a number from one of her favourite stage musicals Les Miserables, she will be doing it with someone very special in mind.

Ms Papadopoulos, 60, of Sylvania, tragically lost her son James Jonathon Kouspakidis, to suicide in 2015. He was 27.

James Jonathon, as he was known professionally, was a star of the local musical theatre scene, having performed with Miranda Musical Society, Rockdale Musical Society and Rockdale Regals.

He was also a much-loved drama and musical theatre teacher at ACTiv Elite Performers, a Kogarah-based studio where James led workshops for several years.

It had always been his dream to perform the role of Javert in Les Miserables.

Since James's death, Ms Papadopoulos has travelled to New York to see Les Mis on stage and has herself begun performing, taking to the stage in Rockdale Musical Society's production of Kinky Boots.

When she recently missed out on a role in a local production of Les Mis, ACTiv Elite Performers director Charisse Graber stepped in.

Gone but not forgotten: Musical theatre star James Jonathon.

Gone but not forgotten: Musical theatre star James Jonathon.

The dance school, with the support of the Papadopoulos family, has been offering a drama scholarship in James's memory for three years.

But Ms Graber said they wanted to do something more to honour James and lift Rula's spirits so they invited Ms Papadopoulos to perform the opening number at the upcoming end-of-year concert.

"For the past few weeks, the crew at ACTiv have been rehearsing the popular number Master of the House, with Rula to appear as their special guest," said Ms Graber.

"The students know how much it means to Rula and they feel honoured to have been selected for this emotionally charged, bittersweet performance.

"It is hoped that Rula, with the talented students singing and cheering beside her, will be able to feel the great passion and love James was able to share through performing arts."

The 2019 James Jonathon Scholarship winner Chris Testa said: "We can only hope that James's spirit will be joining his mum and us on stage, and that in achieving one of his dreams, Rula can feel her son near her again."

ACTiv Elite Performers end of year concert is Thursday, December 5, at Rockdale Town Hall from 6.30pm. Tickets are available at the door.