Usually at this time of year we’re preparing for our Primary Schools Dance Festival – a huge showcase of live performances in the theatre, over two nights in front of sold out audiences. Of course this year that’s not allowed!
But with all the schools and pupils have gone through this year, we felt it was more important than ever for primary aged children to have an opportunity to express themselves through singing, dance and drama. So, we’re taking the whole thing online!
Our Performing Arts Development Officer Monique Benoiton-Smith is working with local schools to produce Musical Madness, an online stream of specially prepared performances. A professional director and choreographer, Monique has been supporting teachers and even running workshops in schools to take the pressure off the teaching staff and help them really put on a show.
All the schools involved have worked hard to produce their pieces, balancing rehearsal needs with the logistics of school schedules and of course class bubbles, with some having to triple their rehearsals to accommodate all the students taking part!
Each group of children has been rehearsing a section from a famous Musical, including singing, dancing and acting, which is then being recorded, and edited together to produce a full show which will be streamed online for all to enjoy in June. And the young people have really got into it, making use of various filming locations and embracing the performance without the nerves that can come from being in front of a big live audience. Featured musicals include Matilda, Shrek, Hairspray and Thriller Live!
“The schools are constantly giving us positive encouragement and feedback regarding how much these opportunities mean to the children. This is what spurred us on to think outside the box and find a way to make it happen, despite theatre closures and so many restrictions. The teachers have worked so hard in partnership with us to make this experience possible, and the response from the children has been wonderful. Performing Arts can have such a positive impact on young people’s creativity and mental health, so we’re committed to making sure these projects continue.”
Around 330 pupils from 11 schools are participating in the programme and the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Tamara Salisbury from St John’s Church School said:
“I have been involved with The Cresset’s Primary School Performing Arts programme for 10 years, and so leapt at the opportunity to get involved with the virtual outreach project this year. Year on year, the programme has been one of the highlights of children’s time at Primary school and this year is no exception. After the first session of working with Mrs Benoiton-Smith, one of the children remarked ‘It’s been the best day ever!’. The fact that despite the restrictions of the last year the children are able to take part and perform for an audience is fantastic and I can’t wait to see the finished product!”
Musical Madness will be streaming from 25-27 June at a cost of £10 per stream, and can be purchased from today by contacting the box office or booking online here
You can learn more about our Performing Arts programme here
This event has been made possible thanks to the Culture Recovery Fund, allowing us to be #HereForCulture