Two Swan Awards for Dramacube Students

Dramacube Students Scoop Two Swan Awards

It was a thrilling night for Dramacube students on Sunday 30th September at the annual Arts Richmond Swan Awards.

Dramacube students receive 6 nominations.

Nominees at the Swan Awards

The ceremony, which was held at the Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington, was hosted by television personalities John Stapleton and Lynn Faulds Wood and the Dramacube family were out in force, with nominations for Best Boy Performer aged 14 and under, Best Girl Performer aged 14 and under and Best Youth Production under 19yrs.

Well done to all five students who received nominations, and to the entire cast of Annie Jr. which was nominated for Best Youth Production.

With students from Richmond, Twickenham and Hampton Hill casts nominated, it was an exciting night for all concerned, and huge congratulations go to Lili Ram and Daniel Nascimento who won the awards for Best Girl Performer and Best Boy Performer aged 14 and under.

The Arts Richmond Judges see many, many productions throughout the Richmond Borough with hundreds of young performers appearing in numerous shows, so to win the award is a great achievement.

 

Musical Director Dan Turek

Introducing Dan Turek

We are delighted to welcome Dan Turek as our new Musical Director at Dramacube.  Dan will be joining us for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, working with our young casts in Hampton Hill and Twickenham.

Dan Turek is a Musical Director and Pianist who has worked on a wide range of productions around the UK and abroad.

As Musical Director: What Would Julie Do? (The Pheasantry), Rent (The Two Brewers), You Me Bum Bum Train (The Old Foyles Building, Tottenham Court Road), The Last Five Years (Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham), Saucy Jack and Space Vixens (The Two Brewers/Freedom Bar), The Grand Duke (Buxton Gilbert and Sullivan Festival), Parade (French Woods Festival).

As Pianist: King (Hackney Empire), Bat Boy (Southwark Playhouse), Merrily We Roll Along (Putney Arts Theatre), West Side Story (Putney Arts Theatre), The Sound Of Music (Nottingham Arts Theatre).

High School Musical 2 at Epsom Playhouse

A Refreshing Twist on Performing Arts Classes

With a number of national drama class franchises established in the Richmond Borough, parents are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a performing arts activity for their child to attend. However, those mums and dads with children who love to perform should look beyond the regular stage schools and check out Dramacube Productions.  Stephen Leslie, Artistic Director at Dramacube tells us more.

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Much like every other performing arts school, we started by offering children classes in acting, singing and dance, however in January 2015 we decided to stage a production of the musical Fame JR, and it changed the way we worked forever.

Children aged 7-16 are no longer offered twelve weeks of acting, singing and dance each term, but instead, the opportunity to participate in a full scale musical theatre production, staged at a purpose built theatre.

Our young casts work with a director, musical director and a choreographer, continuing to develop their skills as performers, but with the compelling and hugely exciting prospect of a major production to look forward to at the end of each term.

Students perform Annie Jr. in Ealing

Annie Jr. Questors Theatre

As well as learning about auditioning, stagecraft, blocking, singing technique and dance, children are exposed to working in a professional theatrical environment with lighting designers, sounds technicians, set and costume designers and stage managers.  They perform in front of two hundred people, they learn how to use microphones, how to improvise in a live show if something goes wrong, they learn about the relationship between the actors on stage and those in the auditorium watching.  They benefit from an experience which does not compare to performing a show in a school or church hall and when we give children this opportunity, they thrive on it, always exceeding our expectations.

There is no question over the value of attending regular classes to improve and develop performance skills, but at Dramacube Productions we offer something different and we see children leave with a new found level of self-esteem and confidence after each show.  Our projects are challenging but extremely rewarding for everyone who takes part, and our young actors learn so much from their time with us.

Disney’s Peter Pan JR will be our seventh major production which will be staged at Hampton Hill Theatre in April 2017.  For full details about auditions visit us at www.dramacubeproductions.co.uk or call 020 8408 0245.

Students perform on stage

The Lasting Magic of Theatre

By Stephen Leslie, Producer at award-winning Dramacube Productions

Most children remember their first trip to the theatre.  Mine was a school outing to see David Wood’s wonderful environmental musical, The See-Saw Tree at Sadler’s Wells in the late 80’s. I can still clearly remember the opening scene, the lovely music and voting to decide how the story ends.  It was a brilliant production and one which will stay with me forever.

Theatre is so exciting

The Buzz of the Theatre

For me the excitement of going to the theatre as a child has never worn off.  I recall trips to the West End in my teenage years where I was terrified by the Woman in Black, totally gripped by An Inspector Call and besotted with Blood Brothers.

In 2016 I was working in New York.  I walked up and down Broadway every night, gazing up in awe at all the magnificent theatres, boasting famous shows, many of which had been running for years and years.  I’d pick up a rush tickets each day and see everything I could.  The Carole King musical Beautiful was most definitely the highlight for me.

Seeing our students at Dramacube walk into the theatre brimming with excitement and enthusiasm reminds me of my early experiences and I feel privileged to be sharing these moments with them.  Of course our students are not arriving at the box office to watch a show, but at the stage door to perform!

The lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe - Dec 2015

The lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe – Dec 2015

I have enjoyed the buzz of working in theatre for over 20 years and I believe that providing our young actors with the opportunity to work in professional/purpose-built theatres with lighting, sound, microphones, costume and set gives them a unique experience.  Taking a performing arts class is hugely valuable, but nothing quite compares to being part of a full-scale production and embarking on that wonderful journey from the first audition to the opening night.

If your child loves the theatre then join us on Sunday 25th November for our Aladdin Jr. workshop-auditions which are taking place at Hampton Hill Theatre  and St. Mary’s University in Twickenham.

No prior experience is necessary and you can register on our Auditions page which also has lots of information about the sessions.

Workshop auditions are for new students wishing to join the Hampton Hill or Twickenham casts.

Carmen in Fame Jr at Hampton Hill Theatre

The Journey

As each cast member bounces through the stage door, the excitement on their faces is clear for all to see.  The opening night.  The event every child has been waiting for, working towards and focussing on for the past twelve weeks.

They are met by the stage manager who directs each child into their dressing room where the costume designer has laid out their opening

Students from Teddington  Twickenham prepare for their show.

Backstage at Hampton Hill Theatre

scene attire.  The set designer has now finished and children are invited to take a walk around the stage, familiarizing themselves with entrances and exits, scenery and props.  Microphones and make up come next, and finally our young cast are ready for their pre-show warm up and ‘team talk’.  A reminder to stay focussed and enjoy it!  The hard work has been done and now it is time to give it their best shot.  Containing their excitement is a nice challenge to have.

As the curtain opens to a packed house, the energy pours off the stage.  It is infectious.  The audience are with them every step of the way and you can see each child growing in confidence as the show goes on.

As director, I sit nervously, rooting for my team, terrified that someone will dry, or miss an entrance, but they are fearless, and the show continues without a hitch.  Everything the children have rehearsed now comes together, enhanced by the wonderful lighting, sounds, set and costume of our lovely creative team.

Cast of Fame Jr. at Hampton Hill Theatre in 2015

Fame Jr. Hampton Hill Theatre

The finale is blasted out, every child beaming with pride and at last I breathe a sigh of relief.  It is, without doubt, an emotional rollercoaster.

The cast buzz with joy after their show and can’t wait to return for their second performance.  It is lovely to see.  They are eager to share stories of their experience.  What surprised them, what went well, what almost went wrong! They want to know what we all thought? And what will make their show even better next time?

After each show, I reflect on the journey we’ve been on together as a company.  It is hard to remember some of the nervous singing from the audition three months earlier.  Are these really the same children?

Our rehearsal process is a fine balance of challenge and support, ensuring children have everything they need to be in the right place for their performance. What do they need to grow as performers, but most importantly what do they need to grow as people?

Alice in Wonderland will be our eighth show and caps a truly inspiring three years at Dramacube.  We’ve performed at numerous theatres including; Hampton Hill Theatre, Epsom Playhouse and the Watermans in Brentford, we grown to three locations with casts now in Twickenham, Hampton Hill and Kingston, seen a number of students perform in West End shows and in August 2017 we received six nominations and awards for best actor and best actress (under 14) at the Richmond arts Swan Awards.

Wishing the very best of luck to all of our performers this term.

Dramacube Students at Swan Awards 2018

Good News all round at Dramacube Productions

With six Swan Award nominations, the announcement of a fantastic Christmas show and the launch of a new cast, it has been an exciting month at Dramacube.

It was this time last year Dramacube students scooped two Arts Richmond Swan Awards for Best Boy and Best Girl Performer, so to receive an incredible six nominations this year, including Best Youth Production is a great achievement and a tribute to the immensely talented group of students who participate in the shows. The award ceremony, which is to be presented by television personalities Lynn Faulds Wood and John Stapleton, will be hosted by the Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington later this month and will no doubt be an exciting evening for all involved.

The awards follow auditions for the Dramacube Christmas show, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, based on the classic C. S. Lewis tale about the fabulous land of Narnia.  This musical adaptation by Irita Kutchmy which is designed for young people, beautifully captures the mood and drama of the novel’s supernatural setting and makes for a wonderful Christmas show for all the family to enjoy.

Artistic Director, Matthew Bunn will head up the production, supported by Musical Director Artemis Reed, choreographer K’ja Young-Thomas and Akshy Marayen will return to design. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will be staged at the impressive Hampton Hill Theatre in December.

Auditions for the show will take place on Sunday 16th September at Hampton Hill Theatre and the Exchange Theatre in Twickenham.  Students participating in the workshop-audition will enjoy a fun session working in small groups on a song, basic routine and scene from the show.  The workshops also provide a great opportunity for children to learn a little more about the company and to ask questions about the production.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe goes into weekly rehearsal from late September with technical, dress rehearsal and performances W/C 17th December.

With the Christmas production now firmly on the horizon, what better time to launch a new cast who will rehearse at the Exchange Theatre in Twickenham on a Friday evening. The new cast provides a great opportunity for children to join Dramacube and participate in this exciting show.

Theatre is so exciting

Backstage at Dramacube

Stephen Leslie, Artistic Director at Dramacube Productions invites us ‘backstage’ as he talks about the highs and lows of directing youth musicals.

What is the best & worst part about directing a show?

Production week is my favourite time.  It can be stressful but when the cast come bouncing through the stage door, the excitement on their faces is clear for all to see and I know we are all going to have a great time.  There is such a buzz around the theatre and it is lovely to witness the hard work of the past three months paying off. 

Announcing the casting can be hard.  Inevitably someone will not get the role they wanted but this is an important part of being an actor.  We offer feedback and extra support with audition technique to those who want it.  This has helped many of our students to develop further as performers and go on to play leading roles. 

With so many casts, how do you keep everything running smoothly?

We have an amazing backstage team.  They are brilliant at what they do and create an exciting and professional environment for the children to work in at the theatre. 

Do you get nervous before the show?

Yes!!! I sit nervously, at the back, rooting for my team, terrified that someone will forget a line, or miss an entrance, but the kids are fearless and just go for it. 

How does Dramacube differ from other performing arts companies?

Students embark on a journey, from auditioning for a role on day one, to reaching the final performance and playing to a packed house.  They work with a director, choreographer and musical director.  They meet the costume designer who takes measurements and explains her ideas for their character.  They work in a professional/purpose built theatre.  They see the set being built, participate in a technical rehearsal where they learn about stage lighting and using microphones.  We treat our casts as professional actors and they return the compliment with outstanding performances every time.  There is huge value in taking acting classes but we offer a different experience.

What has been the highlight of this academic year for you?

Receiving seven Richmond Arts Swan award nominations and picking up two awards was a proud moment for me.  (I was nervous that night!).  It was brilliant to see so many of our young actors recognized for their talent and hard work.

What is next for you?

Alice in Wonderland JR at the Watermans Art Centre, swiftly followed by our Easter holiday workshop production.  As always it will be a busy few months, but that is the way we like it!

MD returns for The Lion, the Witch the Wardrobe

William Morris Return to Dramacube

We are absolutely delighted to confirm that Musical Director, William Morris will be returning to Dramacube this Christmas for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at Hampton Hill Theatre.

William became part of the Dramacube family in July 2015 when he took on the role of Musical Director for our debut production of Fame Jr. which was staged at Hampton Hill Theatre.

William went on to work on numerous other shows including Annie Jr. High School Musical 2, Matilda the Musical, Elf the Musical Jr. and our very first Christmas show which was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

William left Dramacube last year when he took on the role of Head of Music at a school in Oxfordshire, but returns to cover Dan Turek who is rehearsing the current production, but is unavailable to do the run.

We very much look forward to welcoming William back to Dramacube this Christmas.  You can read more about William’s experience as a composer and musical director on our Team Page.

 

 

 

Children performing in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Initial Costume Designs

With rehearsals well underway for children in Hampton Hill and Twickenham for our Christmas production, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, costumer designer Akshy Marayen has been busy collaborating with Artistic Director Matthew Bunn over designs for the show.

With such a varied range of characters, designing the show has been an interesting challenge with Akshy having to carefully consider the practicalities of animal costumes for children appearing in the production, particularly if their role requires dance and movement.

Whilst there are many clear images of woodland animals, the White Witch’s Rabble represent a more

Children performing in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Costumes for The Lion, the Witch the Wardrobe

creative dilemma, as these creatures are likely to be half human, half animal.  Achieving the right balance without the costume becoming unrecognizable is difficult, but Akshy has already come up with some excellent ideas.  You can see from the illustration, the contrast with darker colours representing evil and brighter colours representing good.

Once initial ideas have been discussed, Akshy will draw her final designs for Matt to sign off, then the process of sourcing materials and making costumes begins.

Measurements for all cast members will be submitted to Akshy who then starts creating the costumes.  Once all costumes have been completed children will have their first dress rehearsal in early December where Akshy will check that the costumes fit properly.  She then has a short period of time to make any alterations before the final dress rehearsal at Hampton Hill Theatre in mid December.

This will be Akshy’s third production with Dramacube having previously designed for Annie Jr. at Hampton Hill Theatre and Alice in Wonderland Jr. at the Waterman’s Arts Centre in Brentford.  You can read more about Akshy on our Team Page.

 

Casting

We look forward to welcoming The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe casts to audition for a specific role this week.  We encourage each of our young actors to think about three possible parts they would like to read for and give some consideration to how they might create that character.

Please find a list of roles below.

Peter
Susan
Edmund
Lucy
Professor Kirk

Mrs. MaCready
Tourist 1
Tourist 2
Tourist 3
Tourist 4
Tourist 5

Aslan

Mr. Tumnus
Mr. Beaver
Mrs. Beaver

Miss. Fox
Mrs. Squirrel

A Robin

Animal Ensemble
Father Christmas

The White Witch

The Witches Rabble:
Maugrim
Miraz
Arsheesh
Bar

The Garrett Twins

Rabble Ensemble

Narrator 1

Narrator 2

Narrator 3

Narrator 4

Narrator 5