Cast for The Godmother chosen

The cast for our December play, The Godmother, has now been chosen.

We kicked off the new term with two weeks of workshop-style auditions. All our students impressed us with their enthusiasm, commitment and hard work.

This new play has been written by Burton’s Elaine Pritchard. It tells the true story of Lily Thomas. She sent more than 29,000 food, clothing and medicine parcels to Burton men held prisoner in Germany during World War One.

The Godmother play dates and venue

Principal Heather Gallagher explained: “It’s a real ensemble show and there will be lots for the cast to do. They are excited to be the first people to play these roles on stage.”

The play will be performed over two nights at The Trinity, on George Street in Burton town centre. Tickets will go on sale later this autumn for performance on December 9 and 10.

Heather added: “In Lily’s day, The Trinity was George Street methodist church. We know that on December 8, 1918, Lily attended the church for a service of thanksgiving. She was joined by some of the soldiers she had helped who had been released from prison camps. It feels as if Lily is really coming home.”

The cast for the Godmother

M.C. – Grace Arch-Heap

WORKMEN – Imogen Williams, Laila Baines, Jojo Bancroft,
George Weedon, Oliver Osborne, Natasha Adkins

MRS A – Camille Braker

MISS K Bethany Warren

MRS B (MRS BIRCH) – Honor Ashmore

MISS D – Rebecca Pardoe

LILY THOMAS – Gracie Edge

POSTMASTER MR BURT – Matt Hodgkinson

MRS C – Robyn Wells

OLD MAN – Jacob Rose

MISS E – Rebecca Pardoe

MRS G (MRS GARDINER) – Hettie Baker

ARMY OFFICER – George Radley

MRS J – Chloe Clamp

SOLDIER 1 – Owen Mearns

SOLDIER 2 – George Weedon

SOLDIER 3 – Oliver Osborne

MISS F (MISS FISHER) – Molly Hull

MRS H (MRS HOLMES) – Kacy Mearns

MISS M – Laila Baines

MRS L – Imogen Williams

MISS N – Natasha Adkins

CANON HAMILTON – George Radley

VESTA TILLEY  – Hettie Baker

RECRUITING OFFICER – Jacob Rose

POSTMAN – Owen Mearns

LEAD BOY SCOUT – Jojo Bancroft

ALDERMAN LOWE – Matt Hodgkinson

WAR OFFICER INSPECTOR – George Weedon

BURTON MAIL JOURNALIST – Chloe Clamp

JOE STARTIN – George Radley

SMALL CHILD  – Laila Baines

JUNIOR CHOIR – Thea Kirkpatrick, William Moore, Bobby Belson, Seren Davis, Penelope Bancroft, Ella Light

BOY SCOUTS –  Thea Kirkpatrick, William Moore, Bobby Belson, Seren Davis, Penelope Bancroft, Ella Light

CHILD HELPERS – Thea Kirkpatrick, William Moore, Bobby Belson, Seren Davis, Penelope Bancroft, Ella Light

SOLO VOCALISTS IN ENSEMBLE SONGS – Kacy Mearns, Laila Baines, Oliver Osbourne, Rebecca Pardoe, Owen Mearns, Camille Braker, Imogen Williams, Ella Light

REHEARSAL SWING – Eryn Baldwin

New play based on a true Burton story is next StageScreen production

Our students will begin work on a new play when term starts on September 11.

The Godmother will allow them to develop skills in drama, comedy and musical theatre. It will also show them a new side of local history.

The play is closely based on the true story of Lily Thomas. She was a widowed mother-of-one from Burton who decided to organise support for local men taken prisoner during World War One. It has been written by local writer Elaine Pritchard. She first heard about Lily from local historian Malcolm Goode and knew it was a story she wanted to bring to life on stage.

Capturing the imaginations of local people

Principal Heather Gallagher said: “This going to be something very special indeed for our students this year!”

Over the summer, Elaine, Heather and StageScreen tutors Jack, Megan and Tilley read through the play in the inspiring surroundings of The Trinity, George Street, Burton. This is also where the students will perform the play on December 9 and 10.

An interior shot of The Trinity, Burton Three people stand in the former pulpit of The Trinity

Elaine said: “I’m already being asked when tickets will go on sale. I’m delighted that Lily’s story is already capturing the imagination of local people.”

Details of how to buy tickets will be available during the autumn on this website as well as on Lily’s own Facebook and Twitter channels.

Lily’s actions saved many lives

The play includes songs that were popular between 1914-1918 as well as a new music hall-style song.  Elaine explained: “Lily and a band of loyal volunteer helpers organised and despatched 25,750 parcels of food, clothes and medicines to Burton prisoners in Germany during the four years of the war. So I’ve written the lyrics for a new song that celebrates the array of essentials and treats that she collected and put into these parcels.

“She faced criticism and a tidal wave of red tape – but she persevered. Raising money was hard and there were many times when funds were almost exhausted. But Lily never gave up. Her faith in what she was doing was justified when many returning soldiers swore that she had saved their lives.”

Following in Lily’s footsteps

Lily Thomas of Burton

Today, the Trinity is a popular entertainment and wedding venue and a small business hub. Originally, it was the George Street United Methodist Church. Trustees from the church were staunch supporters of Lily’s fund for Burton prisoners of war. Lily herself attended a thanksgiving service at the church in December 1918.

Heather said: “We will literally be stepping in Lily’s footsteps when we perform the play at The Trinity.”

StageScreen students will be auditioning for parts in the show during September. There are still opportunities for new students to join us. Parents can use this form to request a free morning’s trial session.

Tickets on sale NOW for streamed production of Sister Act Jr

Sister Act Jr by StageScreen

We’re delighted to announce that tickets are now available for our streamed production of Sister Act Jr.

Go to Eventbrite to buy your tickets for the online event on Sunday, August 1, at 7pm.

It’s been a long wait for our students, who were originally due to perform this show in front of a live audience.

COVID restrictions prompted us to change our plans. The production was delayed by lockdown and then professionally filmed without an audience at The Brewhouse Arts Centre. An online audience will now watch the scheduled stream at 7pm on Sunday.

A new experience of filmmaking

Principal Heather Gallagher said: “It was a disappointment that we couldn’t perform Sister Act Jr in front of a full house, as we’d imagined when we booked the rights to perform the show. But the decision to film the production gave our students a new experience of filmmaking.

“The scheduled stream means that our online audience will be watching it simultaneously and can post live on social media as they enjoy the show.

“I am very grateful to the people who supported our Crowdfunder earlier this year and other fundraising efforts to cover the extra costs we faced.”

Buy your tickets for Sister Act Jr here.

Sister Act Jr – filmed and ready to stream

It’s a wrap!

StageScreen in Burton films Sister Act Jr

Our long-awaited production of Sister Act Jr was filmed at The Brewhouse Arts Centre, Burton, yesterday.

Amazingly, every single cast member was available. No-one received a message to isolate or had a positive test result!

Well done to everyone, both on stage and off, for helping us to FINALLY get this show completed, in a theatre and filmed ready to stream. Stay tuned for details of when it will be streamed and how to buy tickets.

Thanks to everyone who supported our Crowdfunder earlier this year.

Tutors Tilley and Megan and Principal Heather Gallagher also completed a half marathon and dance-a-thon to boost our funds.

Altar Boys in Sister Act Jr by StageScreen

Our cast – we are so proud of all of them.

Cast members of Sister Act Jr by StageScreen, Burton-on-Trent

Performing in a theatre – once again

It was wonderful to perform in a theatre again this weekend!

Our sister school, StageScreen Musical Theatre Associates, was at the Brewhouse Arts Centre, in Burton-on-Trent town centre.

Sadly, there was no audience but it was thrilling to stand in the wings, waiting to make an entrance under the spotlights once more. We had all missed it so much.

Our end-of-term showcase, featuring the talents of our StageScreen MTA students, was filmed and will be streamed at a later date.

Hopefully, it won’t be long before we are able to perform in front of an audience.

Next, it’s the turn of our StageScreen school who will film their production of Sister Act Jr without an audience at the Brewhouse in July.

StageScreen MTA performe end of term showcase

Theatre is back in Burton

Rehearsals are in full swing for our production of Sister Act Jr.

Sister Act Jr rehearsal

Our students will have the experience of making a film musical of their production. We took the decision to film our show and stream it online due to covid restriction uncertainty.

We aren’t just filming the performance as if it was live but without an audience. Our students will experience how film musicals are made with shot selection, camera angles and close-ups.

We’ll be filming at The Brewhouse Arts Centre in July and then editing before it is streamed online. We’ll release more information about how you can buy tickets soon.

Thanks to our Crowdfunder donors

This filmed production has been made possible thanks to the Crowdfunder campaign that so many of you supported earlier this year.

Shout-outs, as promised, go to donors Mike Harris, Rachael Joiner and Tetley the dog!

Burton’s Little Theatre Company was also a major sponsor of our Crowdfunder. We have a close relationship with this long-established theatre group and our Principal Heather Gallagher has performed with them many times over the years.

We are delighted to share the news that they are about to become the first amateur company to perform live in Burton following the pandemic. The LTC Youth Group will perform the musical RENT from June 22-26.

LTC performs Rent June 2021

A special seating plan has been devised to reduce the maximum number of people allowed to watch performances.

Bookings can only be made via the Brewhouse by one of the following methods:-
📞 By telephone : 01283 508100
👤 In person at the box office

About RENT

RENT tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive in New York City’s East Village in the  days of Bohemian excess..

Inspired by Puccini’s tragic opera La Bohème, RENT features unforgettable music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson including the much-loved songs Seasons of Love, Take Me or Leave Me and La Vie Bohème. It won four Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Drama and ran on Broadway for 12 years.

We’d like to send a big, brave ‘break-a-leg’ to everyone at Little Theatre Company.

StageScreen to perform new play about World War One hero Lily Thomas

Lily Thomas play The Godmother

StageScreen pupils are to premiere a new play, The Godmother. It’s the story of Lily Thomas, a forgotten World War One hero from our home town of Burton-on-Trent.

Lily was a widow living in Stapenhill with her young daughter Marguerite when war broke out in 1914.

By the time the war had ended, helped by local volunteers, she had sent out 25,750 parcels to Burton men held prisoner in Germany. Soldiers reported that the parcels of food and medicines saved many lives.

The play has been researched and written by Elaine Pritchard. She first heard about Lily Thomas from local historian Malcolm Goode.

Fighting red tape and opposition

Elaine said: “I was captivated by the story of Lily Thomas. Malcolm has written about her in the Burton Mail, but that’s all I’ve ever seen about her in the town.

“At a time when women were still years away from winning the vote, she set about making a difference and fought miles of red tape and opposition.

“She was determined and clever and set up an amazing communication network with soldiers. This meant that she became the ‘go-to’ person for families wanting news about their sons, husbands and brothers.”

Students from StageScreen had the chance to read through scenes from the play at their Saturday morning class on May 1. To comply with covid capacity regulations, some students were at Trentside Studios and joined the readings by Zoom.

Reding The Godmother play about Lily Thomas

The play is called The Godmother because that was the nickname the Burton prisoners gave to Lily Thomas. She called them her godsons.

Elaine was able to track down a rare copy of a memoir that Lily self-published in 1920. She also researched articles that Lily Thomas wrote in local newspapers.  This means that the play covers many real-life events in Burton during the years of the First World War.

Outspoken and blunt

Elaine said: “It’s strange to think that 100 years ago, everyone in Burton would have known who Lily was. Today, she’s largely forgotten.”

“When the war ended, and honours were handed out to people who had contributed to the war effort, nothing came Lily’s way. It’s clear that she didn’t suffer fools gladly and maybe the men who ran things felt she was too outspoken and blunt. She was focused on helping her ‘godsons’ and I don’t think she cared much if she upset anyone who stood in her way.”

The play also includes popular songs from the period and an original music hall-style song written by Elaine.

We can’t wait to bring the story of Lily, and the people she worked with, to the stage in December this year. You can find out more about Lily on the Facebook Page  LilyThomas.TheGodmother.

A busy 18 months ahead

Performing The Godmother is just one of a host of exciting events our students will be working towards each term over the coming 18 months.

StageScreen forthcoming events

Firstly, in July 2021 we will be filming our production of Sister Act Junior before streaming it online. Thanks to everyone who has made this possible by contributing to our Crowdfunder.

Next, after the summer holidays, we’ll be rehearsing The Godmother ahead of its premiere in December 2021.

Thirdly, in March 2022, we’ll be performing a variety and sketch show. In July 2022, the end-of-term event will be a film festival showcasing work by students in front and behind the camera.

Finally, in December 2022, we’ll be performing a hit musical! That’s staying under wraps for a while longer, but we can say we are THRILLED to have secured the licence for this great show.

If you know any 4-18 year olds who would like to be involved in these projects, please do get in touch.

 

Messages from the stars cheer StageScreen students

Last week we had to tell our students that, unsurprisingly, we have to move our production and film stream of Sister Act Jr from March to July 2021 because of current COVID-19 guidelines.

But we were able to cheer them up with a host of messages of support from wonderful stars of the West End & Broadway! We’ve been sharing them throughout this week with followers of our Facebook page.

With theatres closed, many of the stars were able to tell the youngsters that they knew EXACTLY how disappointed they felt – but they must keep positive and look forward to the excitement of performing together in the future.

Stars who sent their support were Rachel Tucker, who has played Elphaba in Wicked (West End) and Beverley Bass in Come From Away (West End & Broadway); Carrie Hope-Fletcher (Les Miserables, Heathers and The Addams Family); Charlie Stemp (Mary Poppins and Half A Sixpence); Luke Baker (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie) and Sam Tutty (Evan in Dear Evan Hansen).

Each of them recorded a personal video message to cheer up our disappointed students and it certainly worked!

“Everything is going to be fine”

Rachel told the students how proud principal Heather Gallagher and all the StageScreen teachers were of them and urged them to be kind to themselves and keep working towards their dream before singing them a bit of Defying Gravity from the show Wicked.

Carrie said: “I am so sorry. I bet you are all absolutely gutted …but it’s going to be OK.”

She added: “I’m sure it won’t be long before you’re all performing together… I completely understand how you feel.”

Luke said: “I don’t want you to worry about it. Everything is going to be fine. I am in the same boat. I want everything to be back to normal as soon as possible.”

He finished by urging the youngsters to stay inspired.

You can watch all five videos on the StageScreen Facebook page – and we’ve linked three of them below for you to watch from this page too.



Thank you for supporting our Crowdfunder

Our Crowdfunder campaign to raise £500 to secure our March 2021 production of Sister Act Jr has hit its target!

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!

We are overwhelmed that we’ve hit our target in just ONE week. We are so grateful for your support. These donations mean that our production can go ahead, but with changes in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Originally, when we booked the licence to perform this exciting musical show, we expected that our young cast would be on stage, in front of a live audience, at The Brewhouse Arts Centre in Burton town centre.

At the moment, it’s impossible to predict what restrictions will be in place in March 2021. We also can’t know how people may feel about being back in an auditorium – even if it is allowed by then.

We did not want our students to face the disappointment of late changes. So, we came up with a plan to film the show at the Brewhouse without an audience and then stream it online. This meant we needed to cover extra costs connected with the filming,  editing and the streaming platform needed to show the finished production. Thanks to the donations received we can now meet those costs.

A Crowdfunder stretch target

So, we have now created a stretch target – something we never expected to do – before our Crowdfunder ends in January.  If we get any further donations they will allow us to add some extra sparkle to our production and we would spend that money on upgrading costumes and sets and enhancing the filming of the show.  But the most important thing is that you have helped us secure the future of our Spring show. Thanks again, from the bottom of our hearts. There are rewards you can choose from when you make a donation. Pop over to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sister-act-online to take a look, or share it with your connections who might be interested.

To give you a taste of what’s to come, here’s a clip of our student Bethany who will be playing Deloris Van Cartier in our Sister Act Jr. This is from the audition Bethany did for the role back when we were only teaching via Zoom.

Crowdfunder launched to help Sister Act Jr go online

Sister Act Jr by StageScreen

The show must go on when it comes to our March 2021 production of Sister Act Jr.

We invested in the licence to perform this smash-hit musical some time ago and had high hopes that we would be performing it in front of an enthusiastic audience at our local theatre, The Brewhouse Arts Centre, in March 2021.

As restrictions have eased, and then tightened, and lockdowns and tiers have come and gone, we KNEW we had to provide our hard-working students with some certainty. They are so looking forward to performing this show and they deserve this opportunity after their hard work and resilience throughout 2020.

So, we have decided to film the show at the Brewhouse and then put it out online as a scheduled, streamed performance. It will be different from the production we originally planned, but there are a lot of positives. It gives us the opportunity to give our students the experience of filming a musical with the Brewhouse as their set. It also removes the uncertainty around what restrictions may (or may not) be in place for theatre audiences during March 2021. We are confident we can safely follow social distancing for our cast and crew to make our film in the covid-secure surroundings of the Brewhouse.

But, to film the show we need to meet all the usual show costs, and a few extras on top connected with the streaming and the filming. So, we’ve launched our first-ever Crowdfunding campaign in a bid to raise £500 towards the show costs and ensure that we break-even. You can find our crowdfunder, and read more about our plans, at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sister-act-online.

What’s Sister Act Jr about?

Sister Act Jr. is based on the 1992 film, starring Whoopi Goldberg, and the Tony-nominated Broadway and West End musical that followed it.

It tells the story of disco diva Deloris Van Cartier who witnesses a murder and is put into protective custody, disguised as a nun, at a convent by the police. She soon clashes with the Mother Superior but uses her unique disco moves and singing talent to inspire the nuns’ choir. When Deloris cover is blown, and the gang of baddies sets out to get her, her newly-found sisterhood comes to her rescue.

It’s a joyful tribute to the universal power of friendship – a theme that is close to the heart of StageScreen teachers and students.

How can you help?

We would really welcome any donations you can make to our Sister Act Jr online crowdfunder. We have put together a list of rewards. Please take a look at them. Some are ideal for local businesses and people who are self-employed as they will offer publicity and promotional opportunities in return for donations. Other might make a great surprise gift for a loved one.

We understand that times are tough and every penny counts, so if you are unable to make a donation, perhaps you could share this story, or our Crowdfunder page, with your friends, family and contacts on social media or by email? We would be very grateful.

Our Crowdfunder page will be open until January 23, and it’s an ‘all or nothing’ fundraiser, which means that any donations will be refunded if we DON’T hit out target of £500.

Principal of StageScreen and StageScreen Musical Theatre Associates, Heather Gallagher, said: “Our students have continued to work really hard and support each other since the first lockdown in March 2020. Exactly 12 months on from that milestone we want to give them a great experience with Sister Act Jr. Its themes of friendship and fun are just perfect for our talented students and the times in which we live.”