Making dreams come true at The Kings Theatre

The Scarecrow and Dorothy - Grace Anstey and Jasmine Berry
The Scarecrow and Dorothy - Grace Anstey and Jasmine Berry
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Theatre Arts UK is putting on a show featuring performances from scores of youngsters – with a mission to inspire confidence though creativity.

Once Upon A Dream at the Kings Theatre will see more than 160 children aged from three to 16 act, dance and sing their way through 24 different pieces.

It’s about boosting their social skills and confidence as much as it is about their performing arts skills. It’s trying to give them a memorable experience and to get them up there and enjoy it

Verity McCormick

Verity McCormick, company director, says: ‘This is the second time we’ve done a Kings Theatre show – we did one in 2014. It’s a celebration showcase we do with all our groups, which have been running for seven years.’

Theatre Arts UK’s initial funding came from the North East Portsmouth Community Partnership government funding in 2009 to set up Theatre Arts Portsmouth.

It now has two performing arts schools, a youth theatre and a theatre company. They also provide performing arts programmes in nurseries and special needs schools, as well as a wide range of after-school performing arts programmes in schools across Hampshire and West Sussex.

‘It started as a holiday scheme,’ explains Verity, ‘and it’s snowballed since then in a really positive way. We now have more than 300 children involved in all our programmes.’

For this show, they have opted to put on a showcase rather than a regular musical or play to allow as many children to take part as possible.

Verity says: ‘We’ve got about 166 children performing at my last count. We want to get as many children involved as possible and have that experience of performing on a stage in a professional theatre.

‘They do pieces of drama, dance, or singing, based around the theme of Once Upon A Dream, and they all get to perform at least three times, which is lovely.

‘We’re about trying to promote confidence through creativity. We have some children who are quite jazz-handy which is absolutely brilliant – they’re very able dancers and performers and we try to push them to the next level, but we also have children who are bit more wallflower-like, who are not very confident and it’s a real achievement to even get them on stage.

‘It’s about boosting their social skills and confidence as much as it is about their performing arts skills. It’s trying to give them a memorable experience and to get them up there and enjoy it.’

The children also took part in fundraising, including a Christmas danceathon, towards the costs of putting on the show.

‘We’re trying to make this show bigger and better than the last one.

‘It’s given the children a real sense of ownership for the show, so they’ve worked really hard to raise the money towards all those different things.

‘And the Kings Theatre has been so supportive, letting the children visit if they’re nervous.’

The Kings Theatre, Southsea

Saturday, March 19

kingsportsmouth.co.uk