When you are on that stage and under those spotlights you are offered endless opportunities of self-discovery, transformation and the chance to express your character to the audience. Musicals and plays bring out the best in people because you get to feel a sense of belonging, being a part of something special and bigger than yourself. Young people especially need to be more encouraged to get involved with the performing arts because it helps to build confidence, independence, teamwork and good communication skills from an early age so in adulthood they can use these skills be it in the workforce or their social lives.

On Friday 15th February, I went to St Paulinus Church hall in Crayford, to watch children share a variety of musical numbers from High School Musical, Annie and School of Rock with their parents.  The evening was an amazing event and the children were well-rehearsed and very confident belting out those classic musical tunes- they seemed like natural-born performers. It was very obvious that a lot of hard work, time and dedication had gone to the production and as an audience member, it made me realise that bringing all these children from different backgrounds to work together harmoniously is very important in terms of exposing them to the arts, so that their creativity can flourish. I also asked Richard the director of the production a few questions to  elaborate further into the significance of running performing art classes for children and  what goes into making them happen:

   Q.Where did you get your passion for music and the arts from? 

I have always loved music.  I started playing the clarinet and singing at the age of 7. The first musical I saw was The Phantom of the Opera and ever since I have loved going to see shows and performing on stage.

   Q.Why did you start running your performing art classes? 

After directing 'Seussical' at St Paulinus Primary School in Crayford, I felt there might be interest in a regular class. The children really responded to performing in their year 6 play with enthusiasm and confidence and I wanted to continue this.

Q.Have you seen improvements in the children's levels of confidence?

I really have seen some great improvements with the students. Some in particular really don't like singing on their own, so to stand up in front of an audience and sing a solo is a massive achievement for them. Others are unsure about dancing but threw themselves into the experience and gave it their best shot.

   Q.Do you have plans to expand the business beyond Crayford?/Do you have other branches and in what areas?

I am currently running classes in Woolwich at a centre called Academy Performing Arts, which offers community arts-based education to children aged 7-16 and even adults as well. I've been working there for 16 years teaching both music and musical theatre and have past students now working in the industry.  The Crayford classes are an extension on the Woolwich centre, all run by the same company. In the future, we would love to have classes for younger students as well as building up the current classes. We also provide classes in other types of dance so would love to run classes in Crayford, should there be a demand for it. I would love to get a commercial dance class running in the future.

   Q.Have you faced any challenges with running the business?

Like any new venture, the most difficult challenge is getting people to come along and try the classes.  We are lucky to have the support of GLL (Greenwich Leisure Limited) who run centres across the country under the name of BETTER. GLL deal with the administration of the classes, so that we can concentrate on the promotion and teaching. We are always happy to welcome new members.

I think it just goes to show the importance of offering performing art class because without them, how would children be able to express their interest in theatre and to showcase their talents. They need that platform to be heard and to be seen.  Even from my own past experience in participating in school performances, I remember being on stage and feeling invincible because I was doing something that not everyone had the confidence to do-being open to judgement and putting on a show. I still believe that acting, dancing and singing are thrilling and exciting activities and everyone should be able to take part in them. Musicals and plays are not just about celebrating the arts but also you as an individual, because it’s about what you can bring to the table to help others and what makes you stand out. Every single child has the potential and star-quality to be on the big stage and should be given the platform to perform. Performing art classes give children an outlet to come out of their shells and I think we all need a sprinkle of theatre magic in our lives sometimes.