Students at VLUK Stagedoor Cheltenham campus have been used to performing three or four times each academic year in the intimate Irving Studio at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. As well as an annual large production, the studio shows have made up the bulk of assessments, as well as giving students plenty of opportunities to perform for public audiences. However, the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and closure of theatres, as well as the need for social distancing, has meant that performances in the studio have not been possible for the last couple of years. In fact, the last studio show was in November 2019!
It was brilliant then, this week, to get back to the Irving Studio, as both Year 1 and Year 2 students performed for public audiences. The Year 1 students took to the stage for two nights, with their Variety Show – The Circle of Life.
Even though they’ve only been VLUK Stagedoor students for a couple of months, they put together a brilliant performance, showcasing their skills in singing, acting, dance and playing musical instruments, in a family-friendly show taking the sold out audiences on a journey through childhood, teenage years, adulthood and finally old age. Highlights included a high energy performance of Thirteen from 13 The Musical, a poignant rendition of The Wall in my Head from Everyone’s Talking About Jamie and a hilarious devised scene in which everyone played elderly care home residents attempting to win at bingo. Feedback from the audience was outstanding, and the students had a wonderful time.
Following two nights of the Year 1 students, the Year 2s took over, performing two contemporary plays in a double-bill. The plays, The Blue Electric Wind by Brad Birch and Variations by Katie Hims, were performed beautifully by the students. Both had moments of comedy as well as serious messages about standing up for what you believe in, enjoying the life you have, and working with others to make the world a better place. After a really disrupted first year, it was fantastic for the Year 2 students to be able to perform for a live audience again.