Back in June of this year, Theatretrain celebrated 30 years of performing. Reaching the big 3-0 marked an incredible milestone in our journey from just a few centres to the more than 60 we have today.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of memories associated with 30 years in business and our Founder and Artistic Director Kevin Dowsett kindly shared with us some of his most standout moments from what continues to be a phenomenal journey.
“The first big show at the Bloomsbury Theatre in 1993. There were only three centres then, but the sound they made was amazing; what I’d call a wall of sound. I love that level of passion. Robert and I vowed that day to one day perform at that Royal Albert Hall. It took 11 years to happen.”
“The Long and Winding Road at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane 1997. Our first truly big show played on the set for Miss Saigon. We performed the Long and Winding Road and as a Beatles fan it was fun to see their music was still loved by a new generation. We were joined on stage by many celebrities including (now) Dame Floella Benjamin. By chance our last rehearsal in the Bishopsgate Institute had been used the day before by Sir Paul McCartney. He sent us a message of support for the programme.”
“Lingen Germany. The World Festival of Children’s Theatre 1994. The first time of representing our country at a major performing arts event; Gemma Collins and her brother Russell were in the cast of The Box. We created a story about the power of television over young people’s lives. These days it would be social media.”
“Songs of the Century, Royal Albert Hall 2004. We made it. What a challenge. How do you put 1200 young people into a performing space in a meaningful way. We decided to tell the story of the 20th century in five-year chunks. This meant taking the most popular song of those five years and telling the story of those times. You should have heard Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit-bag and It’s a Long Way to Tipperary sung at the same time as World War One was enacted below. The thunderous applause at the end came after a long pause while the audience wondered what they had just witnessed. Now it’s something we know well how to do.”
“O2 Arena 2013, 20@O2. To celebrate our 20th birthday we decided to bring the whole company into one show and to perform extracts from all our previous shows. To prepare, Robert and I presented two massive O2 shows with 6000 schoolchildren each time so 3000 was a piece of cake. Many wonderful moments and great to see staff performing alongside their students.”
“In 2018, raising £62,738.92 in one hour for our charity the Theodora Children’s Charity. Each centre simultaneously danced to a set of sponsored songs. It was amazing to see parents being so generous for this much-needed charity.”
“March 2020. On the first Saturday of the pandemic Robert and I hosted a live Facebook event. It was a disaster partly because our WiFi wouldn’t sync. The following week we launched Saturday Live and for 18 months Robert, Jenny, and I became TV presenters and met many wonderful Theatretrain people.”
“Theatretrain Centre Director Conference July 2022. The first conference for three years and I was surprised for my birthday at the Gala Dinner with gifts, cake, and messages online from Theatretrain pupils, and then up popped our Patron Fred Molina.”
“And it hasn’t happened yet but Royal Albert Hall 2023. Our next show will be our 100th large-scale production. It’s called We’re Gonna Change the World and is what Theatretrain parents, pupils, and teachers think we need to do with the world to improve it. So the work goes on.”
If you’ve got a memory with Theatretrain that you’d be happy to share with us, get in touch through our social media, or email email@example.com – we’d love to hear from you. Here’s to the next 30 years!