Twenty one of our post 16 performing arts and drama students recently enjoyed a two day residential to London. We travelled by train from Nottingham to St Pancras, we quickly dropped the bags off at the hotel and got straight on the underground to Covent Garden where students explored the market and watched the street performers.

Shortly after we headed to the Novello Theatre taking our seats for our first show of the day; Mamma Mia. We sang and boogied along to all the high energy ABBA numbers watching in awe at our Ashfield alumni Liv Neville! What a proud moment to see Liv now on the West End, and even better that she popped out after the show for a chat and a picture!

Students also managed to get their programmes signed by other cast members too. We then enjoyed dinner in and around Leicester Square before our 2nd show of the day; Les Misérables. To see the emotion that the performers brought to the students summed up their aspirations to be on a stage like that in the future. Wow, what a show – it was simply breathtaking. We then hopped on a coach back to our hotel, checking out the sights of London, accompanied of course by the students singing.

After a well needed good night’s sleep we kick-started day 2 at Dance Works Studios, located just off Oxford Street. Students took part in a Mamma Mia workshop with one of the cast members, they learnt the choreography to the finale which they had watched the previous day. They absolutely smashed it and came out shattered but buzzing!!

No time to relax, as we were straight back on the underground to the National Theatre where we took part in a backstage tour, seeing the Olivier and Lyttleton Theatres and learning all about the history of the National. We even managed to see set and props being made in their in-house workshops. James Graham, who is another former Ashfield student, currently has his new play running in the Olivier Theatre, so he came to see the students and did a Q+A about the play and having his works professionally commissioned. Again, this was another incredible moment for our students.

The whole trip really was such an experience for our students who are so passionate about all things performing arts and drama. If the performances and activities alone didn’t inspire them, seeing 2 students who have been in their shoes and have gone on to great success definitely would. A jam-packed couple of days which was super enjoyable for all.

Bring on next years!!