West End Workshops – a big hit with the girls

Musical theatre masterclasses given by stars from the biggest West End hits – Hairspray, Chicago, Made in Dagenham, Kinky Boots, Six and Hamilton

10 November 2020

As part of the Drama Department’s Inspired programme for this term, stars from some of the biggest West End hit musicals gave a series of masterclasses at Downe House in which girls experienced the rigours of a professional dance class and gained an insight into what it takes to succeed in the theatre world. Masterminded by our Musical Theatre Director-in-Residence, Mr Ben Sell, each year group was given the opportunity to take a two-hour class with a different musical theatre professional featuring routines and scenes from some of the most well known musicals. The first was taken by Mr Sell himself whose Kinky Boots session took the Upper Sixth girls on a whirlwind lesson of how to dance in heels and talked openly about his own journey and career. Next on the schedule was the Made in Dagenham workshop for the Lower Fifth girls, expertly taught by the incredible Emily Squibb who played the character of Rose at the Adelphi Theatre and ran through a number of the scenes with the girls as well as teaching them two dance routines. The Hairspray workshop was led by the very talented Liam Doyle who played Link Larkin the UK Tour of the award-winning musical and the girls thoroughly enjoyed learning the routine to ‘The Nicest Kids in Town’, especially the pony trotting steps!

Chicago was the show featured in the workshop by the brilliant Josh Donovan who went to town on the much loved theme tune, ‘All that Jazz’ and gave the girls a fantastic lesson on the great Bob Fosse and his choreography. A very different street dance style was demonstrated by the fabulous Gabriel Mokake who recently appeared in the West End production of Hamilton in the ensemble. Gabriel put the Upper Fifth girls through their paces to ‘The Schuyler Sisters’ and ‘My Shot’ and the girls really threw themselves into the routines. The last in the series was hosted by the inimitable Grace Mouat who was the alternate in the West End production of Six the Musical, as well as the dance captain and acted as an understudy for all six roles in the 2018 UK Tour. In a high-energy session, Grace taught the Lower Sixth girls two dance routines and ended with a Q & A session in which the girls asked lots of questions about her training and career highlights, especially about performing in Six the Musical.

Director of Drama and Dance, Mrs Kirsty Richardson said,

We are hugely grateful to Mr Sell for bringing all these immensely talented people from the world of musical theatre to Downe House – the girls have absolutely loved this opportunity to take a professional musical theatre class at School and to be able to talk to them about their journeys. Many of the girls are interested in pursuing a career in the Performing Arts and so meeting all of our guests has given them an invaluable understanding about  what that might look like. Thank you to all of our West End stars for sharing their experiences, energy and enthusiasm!

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