Global reach for online competition

When StageScreen Principal Heather Gallagher launched the Centre Stage Door Performing Arts Competition during the pandemic, she didn’t imagine that it would spread across the globe. But that’s just what has happened.

Heather explained: “With festivals and theatre productions cancelled, I thought an online competition was a way of allowing people to enjoy the fun of performing and also develop their skills through receiving feedback from professional performers.

Entries from across the world

“I wanted it to be open to anyone who wanted to compete – as well as StageScreen students. Professional adjudicators have come on board to give constructive and helpful feedback to all the performers. I hoped there would be a good response in the Midlands, where we are based, but when entries began to flood in from across the world, I’ll admit I was surprised.”

Over the two heats of the competition, entries have been received from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland but also from Australia, Italy, Singapore, America, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Canada, Hong Kong, Dubai and Cyprus!

Map of the world showing competition entries

The second heat closes on Sunday, February 21, 2021, at noon GMT.

Every entrant will get an individual report from the professional adjudicators along with a certificate. A medal will go to everyone who places first, second or third in their class. All competitors who score 85+ points will qualify for the aptly-named World Championship Finals at Easter 2021.

Tom O'Brien The heat 2 adjudicator for speech and drama is Tom O’Brien. Tom is a director, dramaturg and writer. He trained at Arts Ed, Living Pictures and at National Theatre Studio and is patron of StageScreen.

Katherine Jarowicki

Dance adjudicator is Katherine Jarowicki, who trained at Addict Dance Academy and has danced on television, cruise ships and for fashion brands. She is also a teacher.

Christina ModestouVocal adjudicator is Christina Modestou, who originated the role of Anne Boleyn in Six in the West End and made the original cast recording. She has also appeared in The Boy in the Dress (RSC); The Winter’s Tale (National Theatre) and Little Shop of Horrors (Regents Park Theatre).

 

 

 

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.



West End performers deliver more workshops for StageScreen

StageScreen students are enjoying a busy programme of virtual workshops led by professional actors and musical theatre stars.

Now, there’s an opportunity coming up for youngsters aged six to 18 to join us for a special Harry Potter workshop in March 2021! Places are limited. Read on to find out how you can apply.

StageScreen’s own students pay no additional costs to take part in these workshops. Already this year, they have worked with musical theatre star Christina Modestou on a workshop around the new musical The Boy In The Dress.

StageScreen patron and West End theatre director Tom O’Brien has also delivered an acting workshop this month. Principal Heather Gallagher said: “The students worked on character development and acting for both stage and screen. Everyone did so well! Tom was very impressed with them all.

“We are so very grateful for Tom’s continued support. Not just a patron in name only, Tom gives so much energy and valuable training to our students and school.”

Billionaire Boy workshopIn February, there will be a Peppa Pig workshop for our starlets, StageScreen’s youngest students aged four to six.  Debut class students, aged six to 10, will join our Starlets for a workshop based on David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy. StageScreen students (and their siblings) can also attend a workshop on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory..

Limited spaces for special Harry Potter opportunity

On March 6, 2021, West End star of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Jack North, will be zooming in to deliver a magical workshop for an hour during a three-hour StageScreen Saturday morning training session. The exciting news is that for this special event, youngsters aged six to 18 who are NOT StageScreen students can apply to join in too. For just £5 they can enjoy a full morning of online StageScreen classes INCLUDING the Harry Potter workshop.

Heather added: “While we are doing online training we are offering two free weeks. So children who join the Harry Potter morning for £5 can still book a second free trial week with us.”

Tickets will go on sale at https://harrypotterbundle.eventbrite.co.uk on Saturday, January 30, at 9am. We expect demand to be high and places ARE limited. Youngsters who have attended previous external workshops and free trials have been given a chance to apply before sales go live to the public.

Harry Potter StageScreen workshop promo

Jack North played the roles of Karl Jenkins, Viktor Krum and Dudley Dursley in the original West End production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Billionaire Boy and Peppa Pig workshops

Our Starlets and Debut students (aged four to 10) have the exclusive opportunity to do a Billionaire Boy workshop in February with professional actress Emma Matthews.

Emma’s recent credits include Gangsta Granny (West End and tour) and Billionaire Boy (National Tour). Her TV credits include Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Shameless, Casualty, Doctors, No Offence and Prisoners Wives.

Melanie Clark Peppa Pig workshop

Starlets only (four to six-year-olds) will do the Peppa Pig (Muddy Puddles workshop) with Melanie Clark (pictured right)  who is currently the choreographer for the UK and West End production of Peppa Pig Live.

Melanie’s theatre credits include: George Pig in Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever (Duke of York’s Theatre West End) Ben Elf in Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom Live (UK and Ireland tour), Mowgli in The Jungle Book (UK tour), George Pig in Peppa Pig’s Surprise (West End, UK & Australia tour), George Pig in Peppa Pig: My First Concert (Royal Festival Hall & UK tour), Fairy Liquid in Jack and The Beanstalk (Dorking Halls) and Red in Little Red Riding Hood (South East UK tour).

Between theatre tours, Melanie teaches at a variety of performing arts establishments: Head of Musical Theatre at Directions Performing Arts, Virtual Dance Teacher for StageCoach International, Acting Tutor at MEPA College.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the West End’s Sam Lathwood

StageScreen students (and their siblings) will enjoy a Charlie and the Chocolate factory Zoom workshop with Sam Lathwood.

Sam Lathwood StageScreen workshop

Sam trained at The Arts Educational Schools, London.

His theatre credits include: Ferdy/ Dance Captain/ 1st Young Ebenezer/ 1st Fred/ First George in A Christmas Carol (The Old Vic, West End); Messenger Boy/ 1st Robertson Ay/ 1st Valentine in Mary Poppins (Prince Edward Theatre, West End); Assistant Dance Captain/ Gym Captain/ Swing/ 1st Michael Wormwood/ 2nd Doctor in Matilda the Musical (UK and Ireland Tour); Sam in Elf the Musical (Plymouth/Manchester); Swing/ Understudy Robertson Ay in Mary Poppins (International Tour Zurich/Dubai); Crossover Swing in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal Drury Lane, West End); Disaster! (Charing Cross Theatre); Jim in Elf the Musical (European Premiere, Plymouth/Dublin); Mark/Lynch in Damn Yankees (Landor Theatre); Assistant Dance Captain/Swing in Hairspray (UK and Ireland Tour); Ensemble/ 1st Samuel in The Pirates of Penzance (Hackney Empire/Australian Tour).

Other credits include: Elf the Musical (Channel 5); The Jane McDonald Show; singer in Mary Poppins Returns (Disney Movie/ Soundtrack); backing vocalist for Adele at Wembley Stadium; singer for ‘Eurosport Winter Olympics 2018’ commercial; Royal Variety Performance (London Palladium, 2019); Mary Poppins cast recording (West End, 2020), Matilda the Movie workshops (2020); Britain’s Got Talent (ITV, 2020).

Zoom workshop with Christina Modestou

StageScreen students past and present are being invited to a workshop with Christina Modestou.

Christina ModestouChristina originated the role of Anne Boelyn in Six. This month, she will be leading a workshop for us based on The Boy In The Dress.

Principal Heather Gallagher said: “You may not be too familiar with this brand new musical. I was lucky enough to go and see it in Stratford when Christina was in it. It is pure joy!”

The Zoom workshop will take place on Sunday, January 24. The cost will be as a pay-what-you-can-afford donation (maximum £5 per person).

If you are a StageScreen student, past or present, who would like to attend, please email Heather at info@stagescreen.co.uk. She will give you more information and reserve your place on the workshop. You can pay your donation via Paypal.

Christina ran a high-energy, fun Zoom workshop as part of StageScreen’s virtual summer school in 2020. It was a real hit with students. As a result, she accepted an invitation to become patron of StageScreen’s sister school StageScreen Musical Theatre Associates.

Students thrive during third lockdown

The third lockdown holds no fears for us.  Our students are continuing to benefit from virtual lessons that are full of fun and creativity.

StageScreen students on zoom

Founder and principal, Heather Gallagher, said: “Last March, when the first lockdown came, we switched immediately to using Zoom to bring our students together for lessons. We’ve not missed a beat since.

“In a world that can feel very scary and unpredictable, I think it’s important that we give our youngsters some certainty.”

An antidote to stress and anxiety

Heather continued: “Whatever else is going on, they know they will see their friends and their teachers on screen every week. Creativity is a real antidote to stress and anxiety. It’s a great way to forget about everything else for a few hours. Our students can relax and focus on something they love.

“We have viewed each lockdown as a chance to shine a spotlight on what we CAN do. This has led to a host of exciting new opportunities.”

West End stars came in to teach

StageScreen’s patron, Burton-born West End theatre director Tom O’Brien, has helped Heather bring in West End stars to deliver live Zoom workshops to students.

The stars who have taught Burton youngsters new skills and boosted their confidence in this way have included Christina Modestou, who originated the role of Anne Boleyn in the musical Six. Also sharing their knowledge were: Chris Tendai (Hamilton); Luke Bayer (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie); Danny Mahoney (Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Florence Foster Jenkins) and Barnaby Thompson (The Lion King).

Other highlights of 2020 include the youngsters filming their own, original drama serial, Castleford Close and uploading it to the StageScreen YouTube channel. They also did one of the first UK performances of The Show Must Go Online – a musical specially written for lockdown.

Free, two-week trial on offer

StageScreen is currently offering a free, two-week trial for any new students to experience classes on Zoom classes. Youngsters aged four to 18 get age-appropriate lessons in acting, singing and film work from teachers with professional industry experience. Classes run every Saturday morning in term time.

Heather has also devised and organised a series of online performing arts competitions. These are open to all youngsters, not just StageScreen students. The first one received more than 400 video entries, including some from overseas.

Recently, StageScreen hit its target on a Crowdfunder campaign to raise money so that its child-friendly version of the hit musical Sister Act could be filmed without an audience and streamed online. The licence for the show was bought when Heather assumed it could be performed in front of a real audience at Burton’s Brewhouse Arts Centre. When the COVID-19 crisis made this impossible, StageScreen needed to raise more money for extra costs to film it and stream it online. The show can now go on as a filmed musical.

Heather said: “We are so grateful for the support we have received on Crowdfunder. We will continue to follow Government rules and guidance. So, if it’s not possible for us to come together in March to film Sister Act Jr, we will put the date back until it is safe to do so. But, meanwhile, we’ll keep creating new opportunities and providing a creative outlet for our students.”

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It’s been a tough year for everyone including our students, their families, our teachers and the arts industry as a whole.

But we have good reasons to be excited and positive for 2021. Firstly, we are grateful for the support our Crowdfunder campaign is continuing to attract. This will help us film and stream our March production of Sister Act Jr. Secondly, we are proud of all our students and the way they have continued to work hard and have fun. We know they are going to love the projects we have lined up for the new year.

Now, it is with great pleasure that we would like to share with you our students’ Christmas Virtual Performance for 2020. It is a cover version of ‘Just Sing a Christmas Song’ from Elf The Musical.

We would all like to wish you all a merry and safe Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

Santa visits StageScreen

Our final StageScreen classes of 2020 ended this weekend with a huge surprise for our Starlets.

The four to six-year-olds at StageScreen had a safe, socially-distanced visit from Santa himself.

StageScreen Starlets class reacts to Santa visitSanta visits StageScreen

Thank you SO MUCH Santa! Our students loved being able to chat with you.

They were very impressed that Santa knew all about what was on their lists and they assured him that they had been nice all year. And we were happy to agree!

But, Santa wasn’t finished there and he also pulled in a quick Zoom call to our Debut class where he revealed that too many carrots can make the reindeer a bit windy.

Santa zoom call with Debut class

It’s good to see that Santa has embraced technology at the end of this extraordinary year.

We wish all our students and their families a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year. We look forward to welcoming you all back in January.

 

 

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.

Back to class at our Burton venue

stagescreen back at venue dec 5Our venue has re-opened today and our in-person classes are reinstated. We are observing all the guidelines and restrictions that go with our current Tier 3 status.

Please get in touch if you have been waiting for a trial in person and we can now book you in. Please note that places in our Spotlight group, for ages 10-13, are extremely limited. This class is almost full, so don’t delay.

Pictured above is our Starlets class (for four to six-year-olds) having fun today at the Burton Albion Community Hub, Grange Street, Burton on Trent, DE14 2ER. They were so happy to be back and we loved seeing them in person.

Thankyou to Burton Albion Community Trust for their wonderful support throughout  2020 💜

We also run age-appropriate training for six to nine-year-olds (our Debut class) and 14 to 18-year-olds (our Encore class).

Our number one priority remains protecting the health and wellbeing of all our students, staff and volunteers. All our staff members have completed  COVID-19 awareness training and the community hub is a COVID-secure venue. We will continue to follow the advice of the UK Government, NHS, Public Health England and our local Health Protection Team.

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.”