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What can I say? Stages Academy, the feedback I have received has been absolutely overwhelming and more “how can you top that?” and “best show ever” than ever before. And thank you to you all for the beautiful cards and gifts and messages, it is unexpected and very much appreciated. Honestly, I’ve been moved at every performance. Firstly I would like to say thank you all for the amazing support all the parents have shown this talented group of performers night after night and I would like to thank all the parents and friends of the school who have given their time travelling to and from rehearsals and shows to make this happen, thank you for understanding when things run over, your co-operation is never taken for granted.

Like all things we are proudest of, this year’s bumpy ride to the stage and our production of the Wizard of Oz hasn’t been easy; a new theatre, a new area to travel to and get to know, but the result has been worth the hard work.

I would like to extend our gratitude also to the team at the Broadway, Barry, George, Denise, Anita, Rich, Cameron and Harrison. They’ve been an amazing and accommodating team as well as made the show look slick and professional.

This year has not been an easy one, with many obstacles to overcome, but some good news came when no less than four students were nominated for the BATD Freestyle Scholarships. After paying hundreds to travel to Glasgow for this event, rehearsing solidly for 10 weeks they all showed great maturity when the March snow weekend made travel impossible and the event was cancelled. They had worked so hard, but as luck would have it, they were to be given another chance and when the BATD phoned me letting me know that our four would get the opportunity to attend the rescheduled date, 19th May that clashed with show number 2. I was poised to let them all go, after always vowing I wouldn’t ever be in my own stage school show, I was ready to stand in for Scarecrow and Uncle Henry myself so they could attend. Instead, they all showed total loyalty to the school and the show opting to take the chance of re-nomination at our next exams and forgoing their opportunity. I would like to personally thank each of these students, Ozzie, Ruby, Senol and Daisy who I am so incredibly proud of.

Our production and my studio would be impossible to keep going without the huge effort (mostly voluntary) that goes into everything - from exam day, to rehearsals, to this production. The main two volunteers being Lesley and Jacqueline who give tirelessly and freely of their time every week, covering reception, making and co-ordinating costumes right down to cleaning. No job is too big or small and they are great team and don’t get paid a penny, there is no thank you big enough for what they do.

Marian Richards has this year made all the munchkins, soldiers and monkeys - well over 200 costumes, all of which she tailored out of the goodness of her heart. Marian never says no and we have definitely pushed that privilege this year and so the munchkins and I “thank you very sweetly”.

I have to acknowledge also Debbie Ward, even though her girls are no longer officially training with us, she gives us her time and usually a week’s leave to call and co-ordinate backstage. Debbie’s experience of backstage is more than 20 years and she is a Godsend to every production, even with Ashleigh at uni she still helps so willingly and kindly which means the world and she is always one of the family. I would also like to thank Mel and Nicole for backing her up as runners and callers without you this could not have been achieved, ladies you are amazing. Our chaperones, more than 40 of whom, all volunteers, have this year been even more amazing than ever, negotiating stairs and unfamiliar territory here, jumping in and out of jobs outside their remit to help to make the show happen.

Naturally I would like to thank my team of teachers without whom there would be no show and they all give their amazing talent to your students;
and Vikki and the assistants, Gabrielle, Drew, Nevaeh, Zoe, Milly Rose and Ellie. Thank you for all the amazing work you have done with the students and classes. I’ve left practically all of you in charge of something in the past few weeks and you’re all worth your weight in gold.

I’d also like to thank Blake and Liz for their hard work for the agency – together we will get your kids talent out there!

Last but by no means least I’d like to thank the cast who have put in so much time and effort to rehearse the production, coming in straight from work, giving up weekends and extra time - and thanks to their families for giving them the chance to be more involved. Two special cast members who can’t go without a mention are our two Dorothys – Zoe who is blossoming all the time, and as well as a demanding part with numerous lines, she dances about five subjects onstage as well as character work, and Isabella, very new to the school and performing and is only in year 5 at school, I want to congratulate you both on being fantastic leading ladies. I’m so proud of all the cast and dancers this year, busting out ten minute medleys onstage – no mean feat believe me! So all the cast, backstage team, chaperones and volunteers as my thank you to you this year, on the 9th June we will have a big wrap party in your honour.

On that note I want to say thank you to every audience for making everyone’s hard work worthwhile, there was so much warmth there. Thank you all and loads of love, Mark XXXXXX


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