Horsham Showcase: The Review by Derek & Sue Sturt

Horsham Showcase
Ariel Company Theatre started their drama Academies in West Sussex in 2004, the 6th and most recent being formed in Horsham in April 2018, so we were very pleased to be asked to review their Annual Showcase. This was held at the lovely New Bury Theatre at Hurstpierpoint College on Sunday 16th February, and what a great evening this turned out to be. Even Storm Dennis couldn’t keep the packed audience away!

Ariel teach the 3 major disciplines in theatre of drama, song and dance and have 60 members in the Horsham Academy made up of students from 5 to 19 years, divided into 4 age groups, (Ariels 5-7/Prosperos 8-11/Orsinos 11-13 and Tempests 14+). The Othellos+ are students with special needs, who joined the Horsham Showcase as they rehearse on a different night usually, and they all had the chance to show their talents during a nearly 2 hour varied programme.

The lights went down and the show started with the full Academy slowly coming on stage to the song ‘Rise Up’. They choreographed their way on and off the stage with great precision. It was a wonderful opening number with a sea of red & black t-shirts.

They then wowed us with a mixture of dancing, drama & singing that came across as professional and well-rehearsed. They were very confident and were thoroughly enjoying their performances, as did the audience.

Having been active in musical theatre, we were especially interested in the sung pieces, even though we weren’t always familiar with the songs, they were performed with great style, by all the groups, showing some very talented students and great harmonies as well as storytelling.

The drama pieces, some being set work for the LAMDA exams, were performed with great presence, feeling, understanding, and awareness of using the stage well, although occasionally quite dark in nature.
The older students’ acting was brilliantly executed, very powerful & hard hitting.

The dance numbers were very well choreographed whether for single dancers or the full company, using the large stage area fully and effectively. Also, a special mention to the 3 Othellos+, whose pieces were such fun and it was great to see their confidence & joy to be on the stage.

Technically the show was presented fairly simply, with effective lighting and haze effects, no scenery other than a couple of white boxes and it ran smoothly with no hold ups. There was a lovely personal touch when the Prospero’s sang ‘A Better Place’. The background was full of photos of ‘special people’ in their lives and a beautiful ending showing the whole group, this brought many a tear to the audience.

The young performers, regardless of age, obviously loved being on stage and enjoyed the chance of working together, had fun and gave their audience of fans a totally special evening. We haven’t mentioned any individual names because every one of the Academy can be very proud of what they achieved. Who knows what the future may have in store for them!

In these days where teaching and appreciation of the arts are being greatly reduced in our schools and colleges, we must congratulate Ariel for the brilliant work they are doing – the tutors, admin, technical staff etc., to make performance such a joy for hundreds of young people at their 6 academies in West Sussex. Bringing something different to their lives and, on the evidence of this performance with amazing success.
“I am beyond proud of all our students, the past year I have had the honour of seeing our students grow in confidence and stature, the Horsham Academy is the fastest growing Ariel has experienced and their first showcase was a real testimony of the students and my tutors hard work” – Academy Principal Ben Simpson.
Horsham Academy is now having FREE trials , please visit www.arielct.com for full details or call 01444 250407

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