In July 2012 Barnstaple Musical Comedy Society took on a building to use for Rehearsals and named it Centre Stage, they then had to think of ways to help pay for the rent of the building. Trevor Wayborn (Chairman at the time) had a fantastic idea to start an affordable stage school offering lessons in Dance, Singing and Drama to young people. He got in touch with Helen Cole, who had been Assistant Choreographer to BYG (Barnstaple Young Generation) for many years and had choreographed many shows with North Devon All Starz. He also approached Sophie Kerslake a well-known singing teacher/singer from Braunton and Hayley Joy who had performed in many BYG shows from a young age, she had also studied performing Arts at College.
With all the teachers in place a trial session was started in October 2012 on a Saturday for ages 9 to 16 years with 13 children which was a huge success. In January 2013 we started to offer a term of classes and also started an Early Years class for 5 to 8 year olds where we introduced the basics of performing arts dance, drama and singing. Through word of mouth the classes grew over the year in numbers.
Our first show was December 2013 at Centre Stage called ‘Seasons’, this was a selection of different songs, dances and drama performances related to Seasons of the year. This was a huge success and showed how the students had grown in confidence and as performers.
In 2014 the children took part in public performances for the first time at Party at the Manor, Tapathon and the Barnstaple Light Switch on.
2015 we started work on a new show with a new drama teacher Nick Wood. We now started to have a waiting list for our Saturday group so in September 2015 we started the Tuesday group offering dance and singing to 12 children, dance was taught by Emily Reid and singing by Sophie Kerslake.
With now 50 children at the school we performed the show ‘Uptown Adventures’ at the Landmark Theatre with costumes as well.
The children loved the experience and had a great time.
Now in 2016 we had 3 classes running, the early years class suddenly increased to 20 children. We had a fun year planned with lots of public performances. Our first Danceathon, Diversity Festival for Early Years & Tuesday Group, Saturday 9 – 16 group - Concert with the Barnstaple Ladies Choir in July, Tapathon in the November and a Christmas Concert with the Male Voice Choir. We welcomed Sophie Lavercombe the Tuesday Group Co-ordinator and dance teacher.
2017 saw the first show for the Tuesday Group with our new Drama Teacher Charlotte Passmore. The Tuesday group performed Shockey Horror in October at Centre Stage. Then a month later our Saturday groups Early Years & 9 -16 years performed ‘Alice the Musical’ at Centre Stage.
2018 – We wanted to introduce some fun new classes and give our Early Years another class, so we introduced a fun Tap class for 5 to 8 years and a Contemporary class for 9 -16 years. We also wanted to widen our age range and offer a class for 2 to 4 years. So, the Tots Class was born, introducing them to songs, dances and lots of fun.
It was another busy year with public performances for our other groups, we took part in the Fringe Festival, Diversity Festival, Summer Concert with Barnstaple Ladies Choir, Tapathon and Barnstaple Light Switch on.
By 2019 we had a waiting list for the Early Years class so then we offered another Early Years class on a Monday after school. The children are thriving in this class and numbers are growing considerably.
This was another Show year as the Tuesday Group performed ‘Around the World in a Thousand Years’ in the March at Centre Stage.
The Saturday groups performed ‘Let the Games Begin’ in November at the Landmark Theatre.
2020 - Covid hit but we found a way to continue teaching the children at home via Zoom. We offered a fun 45min class for Early years and an hours dance class, 45min of Drama and 30min of singing for the 9 to 16 years groups.
Helen & Trevor took over Centre Stage School as their own business on the 1st April.
Over the summer we created vidoes of the children dancing at home and put them together to make a whole dance.
September was very exciting as we had our own building. We had a successful open day on Saturday 19th September and our first face to face classes was on Monday 21st September. It was brilliant to see all the children again.
In the Autum term we taught the children the Tapathon Dance to We are Family which is a nationwide event in November each year but unfortunately we had another mini lockdown and we had to perform the dance via Zoom. The Tapathon did raise some money for Children in Need with the sale of all the T-shirts.
2021 - With the year starting with a lockdown we taught the children again via Zoom.
In the Summer term we were teaching face to face again and we were lucky enough to take part in the Fringe Festival in July.
The children performed on Castle Green, Barnstaple, with everyone watching from home. It was a very special moment as they have not performed for 18 months!
In September we launched a new class Musical Theatre Exam, we wanted to give children the opportunity to earn a qualification through Performing Arts and Jo Collins joined our team of teachers.
We took part in the Tapathon in November, this time we danced to I'm still standing and 65 children performed in the Pannier Market in front of an audience.
2022 - This year is very exciting for us. We have our first show under our new sister company Centre Stage School Youth Theatre Company, Disney's Aladdin Jr is being performed in June at the Landmark Theatre.
In September we will celebrating 10 years of Centre Stage School, to celebrate we will be putting on a show at the Queens Theatre in November.
We have so much passion and enthusiasm for the school and we cannot wait to continue what we do, which is to encourage, teach and make Centre Stage School a lovely environment for the children to grow as performers.