Lancaster theatre school makes real difference for youngsters

Students at Disneyland Paris.
Students at Disneyland Paris.
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A teenager is making a name for herself on the music scene thanks to a Lancaster theatre school.

Holly Lovelady is just one of thousands of children who have been helped by Stagecoach Theatre School in Lancaster.

Harry Johnson from Halton. Stagecoach.

Harry Johnson from Halton. Stagecoach.

The 17-year-old was unaware of her own talent when she joined Stagecoach nine years ago.

Now she is writing her own music, has recorded a music video and will travel to Liverpool next year for her first gig.

“At first I didn’t want to join, I was just here because mum asked me to go,” said Holly who lives in Lancaster.

“When I went I loved it, I fell in love with performing and realised I was okay at it.”

Harris Wood. Stagecoach.

Harris Wood. Stagecoach.

Stagecoach offers its students tuition and classes in the three performing arts disciplines of dance, drama and singing.

Holly has performed at many Stagecoach productions and also got the chance to go to Paris.

She was one of the students selected to sing live at Disneyland Paris and lead the Disney parade for Stagecoach.

“It was a chance of a lifetime,” said Holly.

William Gillam. Stagecoach.

William Gillam. Stagecoach.

“It is because of Stagecoach I’ve got my confidence back.

“I was given this opportunity and I’m loving every minute of it.”

Meanwhile one little boy was granted his flying wish when he appeared in one of Stagecoach’s shows.

Nine-year-old William Gillam’s first taste of acting was when he starred as Michael Darling in Peter Pan at the Lancaster Grand Theatre.

Tasmin Wood. Stagecoach.

Tasmin Wood. Stagecoach.

The youngster, who has been going to Stagecoach for five years, has had a thirst for the stage ever since.

He said: “Stagecoach is really good, it’s a mixture between dance and singing.

“I like dancing and drama and I got to fly in Peter Pan, which was amazing, I want to do more.

“I feel very happy when I am here and have made lots of friends.”

Ann-Marie White has been the director at Stagecoach for Lancaster and Morecambe for more than 20 years.

This year has been an exciting one for the organisation which has classes in Kendal and at Lancaster and Morecambe College.

Holly Lovelady from Lancaster.  Stagecoach.

Holly Lovelady from Lancaster. Stagecoach.

They opened their first city centre venue at the Gregson Centre in Lancaster and also gathered 100 students in Lancaster for a flashmob to celebrate the Queen’s birthday – as well as giving thousands of children the opportunity to perform in their choir and productions.

“We are like one big family and this year has been absolutely amazing to us,” said Ann-Marie.

“With school budgets continually being cut the need is growing for parents to find creative provision outside academic schools.

“Confidence, self-belief, friendships, team work and resilience are all proof that our training can provide skills.”

Students have performed at the Birmingham Symphony Hall, the National Indoor Arena and The Royal Albert Hall.

Harry Johnson from Halton is one of those students and got the chance to sing at the Liverpool Empire Theatre.

Not only did the 13-year-old have to prepare for the Merseyside stage but also learn Italian for his opera solo.

“It was tricky but it was just a case of learning the lyrics,” said Harry, who has followed in his brother, Elliot’s footsteps in joining Stagecoach.

“I love being in films and operas, it is a really good experience.

“I thought by joining Stagecoach it would be an attractive opportunity to explore my creativity.”

For the Wood family, Stagecoach is very much a family affair. Siblings Tasmin Wood and Harris Wood have been involved with the school since they were little and have recently joined the Gregson Centre classes. 
“You get to meet people you would never normally meet,” said Harris, 12, who goes to Lancaster Royal Grammar School.

“I enjoy meeting new people and getting out of the classroom for a bit, it is like one big family,” said Tasmin, 14, who goes to Lancaster Girls Grammar School.

“We did a flash mob show in the city centre earlier this year, it was quite hard to focus as you are out in the open, but because we were all together it felt good.”

Stagecoach also gathered a choir to sing at this year’s Lancaster Christmas lights switch-on. The Gregson class runs from 2pm till 5pm on a Saturday at the centre on Moorgate. Anyone interested should call 01539 730849 or