Over the course of the last 20 months children’s services franchise, Stagecoach Performing Arts, has worked hard to maintain a feeling of community amongst its network – despite only being able to deliver the majority of its sessions digitally. But, across two weekends in November, students, franchisees and support staff were able to come together once more in a theatre setting, with schools from across the UK putting on showcase performances at the Shaftesbury Theatre, located in the heart of the West End.
In true Stagecoach style, the two-day event – which ran on consecutive Sundays – encapsulated everything that a budding performer would expect from a professional performance. Students arrived at the venue in time for an on-stage dress rehearsal, before being shown to dressing rooms backstage. Then students, ranging in age from four to 18, took to the stage to perform rehearsed montages and musical numbers, which they’d been finessing back in their local school for a number of months.
“For our students, not only does it give them an eye-opening opportunity to experience what it might be like to perform in a professional setting one day, but it also equips them with the confidence to bring their creativity to life and share in their efforts with their peers,” explained Andy Knights, joint CEO of Stagecoach. “Collaborations with such esteemed venues, like the Shaftesbury, brings such value to our business model because parents are, understandably, keen for their children to experience these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities now that we’re able to host in-person sessions again. This increases the demand for our services and, in turn, the need for our model in communities around the country. For us, as a support team, we revel in the opportunity to come together with our franchisees, their students and do what we do best – put on a good show.”
On Sunday 21st November, Freddie Underwood – franchisee and owner of the Stagecoach territories in
Trowbridge, Frome and Westbury – took a group of students from her Further Stages sessions along to perform. She valued the opportunity to showcase what her older students – aged 15 plus – had been working on during the course of the last term and to spend time coming together with her fellow franchisees.
“It goes without saying that the last couple of years have been tough on us all – the creative arts included. Theatres closed, performers found themselves unemployed overnight and all of our performing arts sessions went online. Despite the incredible job done by my team of teachers during lockdown, there’s nothing quite like being back in a theatre again. I had planned on taking a group of students to the West End just as the pandemic hit so being able to return to the stage felt all the more special. An incredible day was had by all and it truly reminded me of why I invested in my Stagecoach franchise in the first place,” explained Freddie.
For Matthew Wing, who owns the territory in Chingford, a day out at the theatre with his Main Stages students on Sunday 14th November brought with it a real sense of excitement.
“I’ve always valued the opportunity to introduce my students to the variety that a life in the performing arts can bring,” said Matthew. “I felt that students getting to perform on a West End stage shows the benefits being part of the Stagecoach Network can offer – once-in-a-lifetime performances is something we’ve always done really well. To be back at the Shaftesbury in person was proof that we’re back and stronger than ever!”
Find out more about franchising opportunities with Stagecoach Performing Arts by visiting www.stagecoachfranchise.com.