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billyelliotA schoolgirl from Gad’s Hill School, Higham has got her first taste of stardom after landing a role in a hit an internationally award-winning West End musical.

Thirteen year-old Zara Gilhooly started performing in smash-hit Billy Elliot the Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre this month as a ballet girl, alongside the central character of Billy in Mrs Wilkinson’s ballet class. Mrs Wilkinson’s ballet girls feature throughout the show as the children’s ensemble, accompanying Billy on his dancing journey.

Zara, from Meopham, said she was “absolutely loving every minute” of the experience.

The talent dancer has been performing from the age of three, joining her current dance school, the Robyn Academy, Gravensend at the age of 10, winning a number of competitions including the prestigious ‘Most Promising Dancer’ trophy at the Beckenham amateur dance festival.

“It was so nerve-wracking waiting to hear if I had got the part,” Zara said.

“I really love dancing and performing and this is just such a good opportunity – I’ve never before performed in the West End and I’d love to make it my career when I leave school.”

When asked what her school friends thought of Zara’s star turn she said: “They think it’s cool and I hope a lot come to see me in it.”

Zara’s Headmaster, Mr David Craggs said: “If Zara doesn’t land a performing arts career, I would be very surprised. It is obvious that Zara has talent. We’re all really proud of her for winning the part in a top London musical. The future looks very bright for Zara.”

Based on the Oscar nominated film, Billy Elliot the Musical is an inspirational story of one boy’s dream to realise his ambitions against the odds. Set in the North East of England against the background of the historic 1984/85 miners’ strike, Billy pursues his passion for dance in secret to avoid disapproval of his struggling family.

Multi award-winning Billy Elliot the Musical had its world premiere at the Victoria Palace Theatre on 31 March 2005 and has now been seen by over 9.5 million people worldwide.

Billy Elliot the Musical features music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, is directed by Stephen Daldry with choreography by Peter Darling. The production features scenic design by Ian MacNeil, the associate director is Julian Webber, costume design is by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design by Paul Arditti. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Martin Koch.

LISTINGS INFORMATION BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL

Booking until: Currently booking until 16 May 2015
Theatre: Victoria Palace Theatre, Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5EA
Box Office: 0844 248 5000
Tickets: £20.70 – £68.70 (to include a £1.20 theatre restoration levy)
Performances: Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
Website: www.billyelliotthemusical.com

Burlesque63Red
Flushed with success, now entering its fourth fabulous year, the world’s original touring burlesque spectacular is about to hit town.

Officially Britain’s biggest burlesque extravaganza – a quarter of a million people have now seen this show – An Evening of Burlesque is responsible for exposing the cream of the West End of London’s thriving burlesque scene to the world. Not only has the ever-so-cheeky production revealed the secrets of the art of burlesque to delighted audiences across the UK, it has also thrilled theatregoers at the swishest venues throughout Europe as well.
From Milan to Zurich, St Petersburg to Minsk, Leipzig to Verona, Dresden to Riga, Padova to Dessau the reaction has been the same – absolutely incredible, says show producer Michael Taylor.

“Nothing is lost in translation,” says Michael. “An Evening of Burlesque’s content – sparkling glamour, physical humour and a dynamic score – are appreciated in any language.”
An Evening of Burlesque features corsets, killer heels and stockings aplenty – and that’s just the theatregoers who come to see the show!

“For a spectacle that sparkles from its elaborately-decorated headdresses to its immaculately varnished toes,” says Michael, “it might not come as a complete surprise that audiences are predominantly female. Also, we’re pleased to report that, with a prize for the best-dressed member of the audience, theatregoers revel in dressing up for the occasion.”
The show itself sparkles with couture costumes recalling the golden eras of burlesque. An Evening of Burlesque claims to be the most glamorous show on tour.

For over-18s only, it boasts that its success is built on a combination of sultry vocals, breathtaking choreography, mischief, magic, frivolity and fun.

“It’s all tease, no sleaze,” says Michael. “The show combines musical and theatrical parody, cutting-edge variety, magic, comedy and dance with the art of striptease.”

Michael says he is proud to be bringing variety back to the theatre, claiming An Evening of Burlesque is the slickest, wickedly wittiest, most delightfully choreographed cabaret spectacular of the year.

“Dress up and come to the cabaret,” he says.

DRESS TO IMPRESS – PRIZE FOR THE MOST GLAMOROUS MEMBER OF THE AUDIENCE

Sparkling with couture costumes, featuring killer heels and stockings aplenty. . . no, we’re not talking about the burlesque all-star performers appearing in Britain’s hottest new theatre show sensation An Evening of Burlesque.

That’s a description of audiences for the glamorous production. Its combination of song, dance, mischief, magic, music, frivolity and fun has proved an unqualified hit with the ladies.

“Throughout the UK,” says show producer Michael Taylor, “at every venue, the fairer sex make up the majority of our audiences. “And the ladies just love dressing for the occasion.”

So much so, the production now offers a “burlesque-tastic” surprise prize for the best-dressed member of the audience on the night. The prize will be awarded by the show’s production manager, their decision being final.

“The show is an opportunity,” says Mike, “to forget about all your troubles for an evening and enjoy the thrills and spills of modern-day burlesque.

“Theatregoers completely immerse themselves in the evening’s entertainment.”
Michael says, as performers look out from the stage the auditorium is aglitter with the most dazzling outfits.

“As a consequence, the atmosphere at theatres is absolutely electric,” he says.

“We would like to reward the most glamorously-dressed person with a prize they’ll treasure forever.”

ENTERTAINERS, 200 LONDON ROAD, HADLEIGH, BENFLEET, ESSEX, SS7 2PD
Tel: 01702 427100 switchboard, 01702 427102 direct easytheatres.com

animmates 40s night
A nostalgic Roaring Forties Night is planned for High Halstow in March.

It’s a fundraiser for Anim-Mates, the animal rescue sanctuary in St Mary Hoo

The Roger Luxton Dance Band will be playing the music of the wartime era at High Halstow Village Hall on Saturday 29 March from 7pm.

Tickets at £12 are limited to 100 so there will be plenty of room dance.

40′s outfits are optional, but there will be a prize for the best one.

You are asked to bring your own rations to eat.

chdtbeatlesIt’s Full Steam Ahead to The Historic Dockyard Chatham this Easter, as thousands plan to travel to one of the South East’s biggest and best events – The Medway Festival of Steam and Transport. Visitors to the Festival on Easter Sunday and Monday, 20th and 21st April, are in for a real treat this year as one of the South East’s favourite events gets bigger and better still!

The Medway Festival of Steam and Transport is back this year with an injection of even more music to complement the classic and vintage vehicles across the 80 acre site. Visitors will be treated to a variety of music on two main stages located within a historical setting.

The Victorian Warship HMS GANNET, No. 3 Slip and No. 1 Smithery will encapsulate the Folk and Blues Stage, surrounded by vehicles dating from 1901 to 1930 and Steam Traction Engines, where visitors will be entertained with lively and toe tapping folk and blues music.

Acts performing to the crowds include: Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs an ‘off the rails’ skiffle band, well known on the Glastonbury Festival scene, with their quirky and comedic act playing music with wash boards, soap boxes, banjos and guitars and CoCo and the Butterfields, provide something a little different. A five piece band with a unique fusion of folk, pop and hip hop or ‘Fip Fok’ they are not to be missed! Funke and the Two Tone Baby a talented multi-instrumentalist will entertain with his mechanical alt-blues music; Kentish band The Flowing play alternative and folk songs with a range of instruments; and performances from Larkspur with their mix of lively traditional and modern folk music, will ensure that visitors will not be disappointed.

The River Medway sets the scene for a second stage, backed by the beautiful Commissioner’s House. This Sixties and Rockabilly Stage will be flanked by vehicles from the 1960’s, hot rods, trucks and American vehicles and this area will have an American Diner feel to it where visitors can rock ‘n’ roll the weekend away!

Acts on this stage include: Scarlett Rae and the Cherry Reds who perform a fusion of blues, rockabilly and jazz; Like…The Beatles bringing visitors the most accurate and fun Beatles tribute act in the UK, take a trip down memory lane; making a welcome return Thee Waltons, a playful act with a unique blend of hillbilly rock ‘n’ roll; The Kick-Backs are a six piece rock, funk and soul band with sing-a-long covers; The Scalextrics are a new-wave punk rock band with hits from the ‘60s, ’70s and ‘80s; and performances from Leroy and the Rockets with impressive credits in the music industry, be entertained with a mix of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and blues.

With such an impressive festival line up set to come to the Medway Towns, visitors are being encouraged to buy their discounted tickets in advance to avoid the queues, to enjoy their music filled Easter weekend at The Historic Dockyard Chatham. For more information and tickets, go to www.thedockyard.co.uk/steamandtransport
chdtbutterfields

medway-logoThe February half-term holiday is approaching and there are plenty of fun activities on offer in Medway to keep the children entertained.

Fans of pop boyband One Direction will jump at the chance to learn a great dance routine to some of their greatest hits.

Those aged between eight and 16 – who fancy following in the footsteps of their favourite band members – can put on their dancing shoes and take part in a special workshop at The Brook Theatre in Chatham.

The workshop on Tuesday, 18 February is with professional dancer Jay Saunders who will teach the young people a choreographed routine and a variety of dance skills.

There will even be a final performance for family and friends where children can showcase the moves they have learnt at the end of the day.

The workshop takes place from 10am to 3.30pm and costs £14 for each participant.

Children can also get creative and learn some magic with a professional circus company at the Balloon Art and Magic Tricks workshop.

On Monday, 17 February, tutor Mighty Mike of Dizzy O’ Dare Presents will teach those aged between eight and 14 how to make amazing balloon models and perform marvellous magic tricks.

The session will begin with fun warm up games and demonstrations, followed by activities where the children will work in small groups with one-to-one help from the workshop assistants.

Each child will take home some new skills as well as their very own pack of playing cards to try their tricks on family and friends.

The workshop takes place from 10am until noon at The Brook Theatre in Chatham and costs £7.
On another date at the same theatre, youngsters interested in arts and crafts can get messy designing ceramics and printing pictures with artist Friday Caswell.

Using special tile-cutting tools, rollers and inks – those who attend the workshop on Friday 21 February, will get to make unique printed pictures as well as paint designs on mugs, plates and tiles.

Caswell will showcase some examples of her work and talk about the different techniques and equipment the group will be using throughout the day. She will then help the children with their ideas and creation of their artwork.

The workshop runs from 10am to 3.30pm for eight to 14-year-olds of all abilities and costs £14.

All materials – including the china items – are supplied and included in the price of the workshop. Children are asked to wear old clothes and an apron if they have one.

If you would like to book a place for any of these events or find out more information contact 01634 338338 or visit www.enjoymedway.co.uk

Press5After last year’s success, The Russian State Ballet and Opera House is back with a new and vibrant Classical Ballet, The Nutcracker – a family orientated production with the Fairy Tale element and some added glitz from the beautiful costumes.

There will be no surprise to any that this production will be of the most delicate, intimate and powerful kind. This Company is known for its attention to details and, more particularly, for its dramatization in dance of the tragedy and beauty that this ballet is known for.

Join us for an unforgettable journey in the run-up to Christmas and be part of the magic as it unfolds. Read More

edna – energise dance nourish art is a distinctive dance, arts, health and well being project especially designed for older adults aged 55+ years. It will pilot a creative dance/movement, arts and science research based activity that will happen in two community settings in Medway and Gravesham. More

Temple Mill Children’s Centre will be celebrating its 5th birthday on Saturday, 13 July with a Family Fun Day.

The event takes place at the centre in Cliffe Road, Strood from 12noon to 4pm.

There will be a children’s entertainer, toddler boxercise, dancing, information stalls, story time with Medway’s Library Service, and a celebratory cake cutting at 2pm.

Admission is free and there’s no need to book in advance. For further details call the centre on 01634 338200

Get fit, de-stress and have fun at one of the Active Life classes with Medway Community Learning.

Exercise to music
All Saints Church, Magpie Hall Road, Chatham
Mondays 7-8pm

Tai Chi
Medway Community Learning, Eastgate, Rochester
Tuesdays Noon-1pm

Pilates
St Thomas Church Hall, Rainham
Tuesdays 2.30-3.30pm

Exercise to music
Woodlands Arts Centre, Gillingham
Wednesdays 7-8pm

Classes run term-time only and each class costs £2.50. Please phone 01634 338400 to book a place.

Wannabe professional dancers can discover the route to a career in the dance industry at an event later this month. More

The UK’s No 1 Folk and Hip Hop Dance act is performing in Chatham at the Brook Theatre on Monday, 19 November, 2012.
The groundbreaking show from The Demon Barbers is called The Lock In and puts three forms of folk dancing into a theatre performance.
The Lock In has been described as Morris dancing meets the Irish Riverdance, with hip hop thrown in.
The dancers say they bring some of the UK’s oldest forms of dance bang up to date with some of the youngest in this exciting new show which comes to Chatham as part of it’s UK tour.
The show, the brainchild of award-winning folk band The Demon Barbers, sees a group of street dancers arrive at an apparently deserted pub. Local rumour has it that The Fighting Cocks is the place to be ‘after hours’ but as the regulars arrive, a clash of cultures turns into a dance floor stand-off. More

Want to occupy stir-crazy children during the Easter holidays? Then send them for some creative fun thanks to Medway Council Arts Team.

Two one-day workshops have been organised for young people aged from eight to 16 years old. More

Young dancers are invited to come along to a community dance event and develop their skills with dance professionals. More

A series of events are taking place across Medway in October to mark Black History month.

The annual festival, which is held nationally, celebrates diverse cultures and and traditions. In Medway it will include live music, story telling, circus tricks and specialist food events. More

A dance event is taking place this weekend and talented movers and shakers are needed to take part. More

Young performers from Medway and across the southeast will be taking to the stage next week to showcase their musical talents and support the homeless. More

Fit Folk Summer 2011! Pete & Viv’s Barn Dance sessions Strood Library More

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