Rugby Theatre's youth project celebrates 20 year anniversary - The Rugby Observer

Rugby Theatre's youth project celebrates 20 year anniversary

Andy Morris 23rd Aug, 2017   0

A SPECIAL milestone was marked for Rugby Theatre’s Summer Youth Project, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year with a production of Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Since its early days the project has delighted countless audiences and unlocked the potential of hundreds of talented 10 to 21-year-olds who take to the stage for a five-day run after just 10 days of rehearsals.

The project has long been supported by the Heart of England Co-operative Society’s Helping Hearts Awards Scheme, which awards a percentage of the retailer’s profits back into the community.

From the organisers’ first application in 2002, Rugby Theatre has received an average £500 a year from the Society towards show costs.

Project Manager Phil Kettle said: “The Summer Youth Project is a fantastic scheme attracting young people who have since gone on to the West End.

“We see big changes in our budding starlets over the course of the project – especially in confidence and self-esteem. They learn a lot about working as a team and the disciplines of a work environment, but still have time for fun.

“The project attracts students locally but we’ve even had someone from Abingdon in Oxfordshire.

“We always endeavour to involve the community and it is through sponsorship from organisations like the Heart of England Co-operative Society that this project becomes a reality.

“We are delighted with the Society’s continued support. It is always a pleasure to see Helping Hearts representatives on sponsors’ night. It’s like welcoming back an old friend.”

Every year, under the guidance of professional actors and choreographers, the Summer Youth Project involves 10 days of intensive rehearsals and five days of performances. Auditions took place in March but the cast are given their scripts just three weeks in advance of the rehearsals.

Over the years the project has tackled big musicals such as West Side Story, Oklahoma, Oliver and Sweet Charity, alongside newer shows including Late Sleepers and The Likes Of Us.

And as soon as the final curtain drops, project bosses start looking at the following year, working through around 4,000 hours of planning, raising sponsorship and administrative tasks even before auditions, and a further 2,000 hours during the run.

Ali Kurji, Chief Executive of the Heart of England Co-operative Society, said: “With roots stretching back to 1913 when it showed variety and acts and films, Rugby Theatre has long been an important facility.

“It is highly respected locally and the Summer Youth Project has enjoyed phenomenal success.”

Since its launch in 2000 Helping Hearts has given over £950,000 to worthy causes across Coventry, Warwickshire, south Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. Awards range from £10 to £1,000. Applicants must demonstrate a benefit to their community.

Visit to apply.

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