Delivering friendly and professional performing arts classes for children aged four to 18, Stagecoach Performing Arts School in Cheltenham has an impressive reputation for helping young stars to unlock their potential and break into the industry.
SoGlos spoke to one of its passionate students, Jemima Penny – who appeared on ITV’s The Voice Kids in 2020, stunning judge Pixie Lott with her powerful performance of ‘Highway to Hell’ – about her Stagecoach experience and future aspirations.
Meet the student – Jemima Penny from Stagecoach Performing Arts Cheltenham
Local superstar Jemima Penny, 13, is in her sixth year at Stagecoach Performing Arts in Cheltenham, which delivers part-time, professional training in dancing, singing and acting for youngsters aged four to 18.
Helping budding stars to shine, Stagecoach Cheltenham gives its students the chance to perform on stage, as well as participate in workshops and take performing arts exams to further their education – and is now enrolling for its summer 2022 term.
What got you interested in the performing arts?
My parents have always taken me to see lots of plays, pantomimes and musicals and from the very first one, I wanted to be on the stage with all the actors!
I remember I saw School of Rock when I was six and I was absolutely desperate to be in the cast. Little did I know that I would go on to perform a rock song on The Voice Kids four years later.
What do you like most about performing?
I really like the variety of characters you can play and I love how singing and dancing, in particular, make me feel. I have to admit, I do also love it when the crowd claps and cheers.
Can you describe what happens in your weekly classes at Stagecoach?
It depends on the term and if we have a production or not, but generally we have three sessions: singing with Tom, acting with George and dancing with Chaz. I love all three!
In each session, we start with a warm-up. In dance we do stretches; we do vocal warm-ups in singing; and games in drama, which are always fun. Each term is geared towards a different skill or theme.
What is your favourite part of class?
Dance is usually my favourite, but that’s tricky to answer as I love everything we do really. The warm-ups and games are always fun, and just being with friends doing the things you love.
How has Stagecoach helped you to develop your skills and build your confidence?
Stagecoach definitely builds your confidence. I think it does this through giving you so many opportunities to perform in front of people. I remember when I first started, I was in awe of the older students and I never thought I would ever be as good as them, but now I am in Stage 3, and I hope I am as good as they were!
Stagecoach taught me to believe in myself, and they have always been there to support me through auditions and LAMDA exams. It’s like having a huge family behind you and there have been times when I have really needed them and they really helped.
Are you hoping to go into the performing arts as a career, or is this something you prefer to do fun?
I am definitely hoping to have a career in performing arts. Theatre, TV or film – I just love performing!
Do you have a favourite stage or screen star? If so, who are they and why do you like them?
It changes all the time! I would normally say Phillipa Soo, who plays Eliza in Hamilton, but I am currently a huge fan of The Osmonds: A New Musical. My brother is performing in it and so we have been about seven or eight times now and I absolutely love three of the actors in it!
Firstly, Ryan Anderson who plays Merrill, as he has the most amazing vocals. He works so hard, and you can really tell that he gives his soul to every performance. Georgia Lennon plays Marie and she sings so beautifully. Her voice is flawless; she is a real inspiration. And then Alex Cardall plays Andy Williams and he is just really good looking!
Finally, if you could be in any stage show, musical or play, which one would it be?
Hamilton! Although that was easy and quick to answer, it is actually a difficult question as I would love to be in so many musicals.