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Chester Stagecoach to perform with Tommy Steele in Bill Kenwright's production of Scrooge

PUBLISHED: 00:16 02 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:23 20 February 2013

The Chester children are delighted to be working with film star Tommy Steele

The Chester children are delighted to be working with film star Tommy Steele

Bah humbug! Young thespians from Chester are so excited about appearing with the legendary Tommy Steele in a major Christmas show WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH<br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

There may be cries of bah humbug at theatres in Cheshire, Manchester and North Wales this month but pupils from Stagecoach Chester will be full of Christmas cheer.


Several members of this theatre company, held at Bishops High School in Boughton, are excited about treading the boards in Bill Kenwrights production of Scrooge. They will take several of the childrens roles, including Tiny Tim and the Cratchit children, alongside legendary performer Tommy Steele at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, Liverpools Empire Theatre and The Lowry in Salford.

Chester Stagecoach, which has pupils from five to 17-years-old, was set up in 1992 and has been run by former hairdresser and amateur dramatics enthusiast Karen Partington since 1993.

She said: This is fantastic news for these students and we have been rehearsing hard. They take it in turns so they do not miss too much school and it is certainly an exciting time for them.

Were really happy to be involved with Bill Kenwrights productions. It is an amazing experience for the children and what a brilliant memory to be able to look back on and say you have appeared in a Bill Kenwright production. What a boost to their confidence.

As a teenager, Karen, now 52, who has also run theatre schools in Wirral and Wrexham, staged impromptu performances for her mum and friends at The Union of Catholic Mothers meetings. She also performed with local amateur groups. But after 20 years running hair salons, she wanted a change of career. Since then, as well as running the theatre groups she has directed plays for Birkenhead Choral Society and for Castaway Youth Theatre, a school set up to give pupils from difficult backgrounds an opportunity to shine. Daughter Lindsay had attended Stagecoach Chester when it was set up. A year later, Karen took over.

The school has bred acting stars, including Jonny Clarke, currently appearing as Bart McQueen in Hollyoaks and Lee Abbate, Zack Diamond in BBC series Waterloo Road. Other pupils Dani Fray and Max Friswell played leading roles in Grange Hill and Lydia Griffiths went on to become a West End performer appearing in many productions, including Les Miserables.

Just over three years ago daughter Lindsay joined her mum in running the theatre company. Together with expert tutors, they teach more than 300 pupils at Stagecoach Chester.

Plans are underway to mark the groups 20th anniversary next year.

Lindsay, 29, said: Well invite all past members to a party, which I think will be an outdoor event in May. It will need to be outdoors because we have 100s of past members. We cant believe the group has been going 20 years. Many people tell us that coming here not only helped them start a successful acting career but it gave them a big boost of confidence - which is fantastic. Were really looking forward to our anniversary year and well celebrate in style. n


There may be cries of bah humbug at theatres in Cheshire, Manchester and North Wales this month but pupils from Stagecoach Chester will be full of Christmas cheer.

Several members of this theatre company, held at Bishops High School in Boughton, are excited about treading the boards in Bill Kenwrights production of Scrooge. They will take several of the childrens roles, including Tiny Tim and the Cratchit children, alongside legendary performer Tommy Steele at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, Liverpools Empire Theatre and The Lowry in Salford.

Chester Stagecoach, which has pupils from five to 17-years-old, was set up in 1992 and has been run by former hairdresser and amateur dramatics enthusiast Karen Partington since 1993.She said: This is fantastic news for these students and we have been rehearsing hard. They take it in turns so they do not miss too much school and it is certainly an exciting time for them.

Were really happy to be involved with Bill Kenwrights productions. It is an amazing experience for the children and what a brilliant memory to be able to look back on and say you have appeared in a Bill Kenwright production. What a boost to their confidence.

As a teenager, Karen, now 52, who has also run theatre schools in Wirral and Wrexham, staged impromptu performances for her mum and friends at The Union of Catholic Mothers meetings. She also performed with local amateur groups. But after 20 years running hair salons, she wanted a change of career.

Since then, as well as running the theatre groups she has directed plays for Birkenhead Choral Society and for Castaway Youth Theatre, a school set up to give pupils from difficult backgrounds an opportunity to shine. Daughter Lindsay had attended Stagecoach Chester when it was set up. A year later, Karen took over.The school has bred acting stars, including Jonny Clarke, currently appearing as Bart McQueen in Hollyoaks and Lee Abbate, Zack Diamond in BBC series Waterloo Road.

Other pupils Dani Fray and Max Friswell played leading roles in Grange Hill and Lydia Griffiths went on to become a West End performer appearing in many productions, including Les Miserables.Just over three years ago daughter Lindsay joined her mum in running the theatre company. Together with expert tutors, they teach more than 300 pupils at Stagecoach Chester.Plans are underway to mark the groups 20th anniversary next year.

Lindsay, 29, said: Well invite all past members to a party, which I think will be an outdoor event in May. It will need to be outdoors because we have 100s of past members. We cant believe the group has been going 20 years. Many people tell us that coming here not only helped them start a successful acting career but it gave them a big boost of confidence - which is fantastic. Were really looking forward to our anniversary year and well celebrate in style.



The print version of this article appeared in the December 2011 issue of Cheshire Life

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