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Our new Musical Theatre programme is grounded in the fantastic cultural centre of Shrewsbury while also outward-facing – engaged in the wonderful work being created from Theatr Clwyd to Storyhouse to the West End. Here are some of the exciting adventures our students have had this year - from master classes to theatre outings!

Tap Workshop with Katie Pearson of 42nd Street

UCS has an ongoing relationship with Layton Williams’ Pros from the Shows, which brings West End professionals to Shrewsbury for dance workshops in a variety of styles. This autumn, students shuffled off to Buffalo with Katie Pearson of 42nd Street. The students loved tapping so much that we added several sessions this winter to continue developing their flaps, time steps, and wings! We look forward to another Pros from the Shows visit this summer.

Q&A with Gillian Gregory

Did you know a Tony Award-winning choreographer lives in our midst? Students had a wonderful conversation with Gillian Gregory, who was born and raised in Shrewsbury before making her way to the West End and Broadway. In addition to thoughtful words of wisdom for our aspiring performers, Gillian shared stories of teaching Twiggy to tap dance and winning the Tony in 1987 for her choreography of Me and My Girl.

Master Class with Alex Young

Alex Young is a luminary of the musical stage across the UK, and I was fortunate to work with her on a reading of my musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma last spring. In December, Alex delivered a truly masterful master class for our solo skills module. She critiqued each of our students’ in-progress audition songs, and her feedback and practical techniques continue to deepen the students’ performances today.

Improv with Actors from LA

Having trained with Second City, Improv Olympic, and other renowned improvisation schools, University of Chester Masters student David Escobedo and several of his friends from California visited to loosen up our students with dynamic improv sessions this winter. Our students are more open and responsive collaborators as a result of these fun workshops!

Company on the West End

After studying the Stephen Sondheim musical in-depth and learning a few ensemble numbers from it, we travelled to London to see Marianne Elliot’s award-winning, gender-bending version of Company. Music director Joel Fram met us after the show for a private Q&A. He even recorded a very special message for Broadway star Patti LuPone from a student who idolizes her. (We hear it made Ms. LuPone cry!)

Career Open House

Students showcased their talents in a Career Open House at Chester’s Kingsway Creative Campus, followed by a Q&A with a panel of professionals from across northwest England – including representatives from Storyhouse, The Lowry, and more.

Orpheus Descending at Theatre Clwyd

Theatr Clwyd has developed an international reputation for not only bringing in an exciting lineup of touring productions, but also for producing and developing new works and inventive revivals. This spring, we will attend Tamara Harvey’s Orpheus Descending before it transfers to London’s Menier Chocolate Factory, and we will take a tour of the impressive facilities – including a full costume shop, which is incredibly unique for a regional theatre.

Who knows what next year will bring!

Find out the latest news from the UCS Musical Theatre department by following their Instagram and Twitter accounts

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