LAST month I travelled to The Rose Theatre at Barton Peveril Sixth Form College and took my seat to enjoy two hours of musical theatre.

The lights dimmed and the music started - this was the first time I’d seen anything live since lockdown and it felt very exciting. The feeling was intensified by the fact that the performers were all local children from Winchester Theatre Arts and had started working on the routines during lockdown. It had been a long time coming for students, teachers and families alike - we hadn’t been sure whether this weekend of performances would actually be able to go ahead!

We are incredibly lucky in the Worthies to be the home of Winchester Theatre Arts (WTA). The school was founded by Claire Goodwin and alongside her daughter, Laura Goodwin, the school has gone from strength to strength, nurturing and supporting young people throughout their musical theatre journeys.

My eldest daughter is five and, like so many, spent her Reception year in and out of school due to the varying restrictions. School lessons have been via Zoom, as were dance lessons. Every Saturday morning she would wake up, log on and dance round the dining room.

Her teacher, Alex Hewett, was brilliant at keeping such a young group of children engaged for 45 minutes. During these months the dance routine was introduced and we all kept our fingers crossed that it would eventually make it onto the stage. As the months rolled by and the Government’s roadmap got closer (then further) then closer again to ‘Freedom Day’, progress was made: lessons were back in the studio, costume fittings organised, tickets on sale and finally the dress rehearsal…“Mummy we’re going on the stage today!!!”.

The students performed a wide range of musical excerpts including Windmills in Amsterdam, All that Jazz, Starlight Express, Singing in the Rain and The Greatest Show.

Many of these were sung live by the students whilst showcasing dance routines in styles including tap, jazz, ballet and street. The students showed such confidence and were clearly having a great time.

I especially enjoyed Scott Hodges and Josh Saunders’ rendition of ‘Expressing Yourself’ from Billy Elliott and the junior street’s Michael Jackson Medley. A special mention has to be for Thea Oliver whose talent was obvious from the first moment she stepped on the stage. Her performance of ‘The Winner Takes it All’ was breath-taking – she is definitely a name to look out for in the future.

It has been an emotional year for us all, however to see the hard work and dedication that all students, teachers and volunteers have put in to maintain the WTA energy, culminating in such a fantastic show, is a huge feat that many could not pull off. We are privileged to have a school such as this on our doorstep and I cannot wait to see what next year’s performance will bring.