White Christmas for Haywards Heath students

Tom Chambers (centre) and Matthew Cheney (left, centre) with GAPA pupils at the Dominion Theatre Sta

Tom Chambers (centre) and Matthew Cheney (left, centre) with GAPA pupils at the Dominion Theatre Stage door. - Credit: Archant

Despite the lack of snow this year, the pupils of the Gielgud Academy (GAPA) managed to get showered with special treats this Christmas with a visit to see White Christmas in the West End.

GAPA pupils on the grand staircase at the Dominion Theatre, London.

GAPA pupils on the grand staircase at the Dominion Theatre, London. - Credit: Archant

The lucky children from the Performing Arts School in Haywards Heath were given special treatment backstage as cast members gave the GAPA party a pre-show behind the scenes tour.

Florence Gaskell, age 13, from Lindfield said “It was so exciting to actually stand on the stage of the Dominion Theatre and look out into the auditorium before the audience were let in. It was absolutely huge and I’ll never forget it. I want to perform on that stage one day”.

GAPA pupils backstage in the costume department at the Dominion.

GAPA pupils backstage in the costume department at the Dominion. - Credit: Archant

The children were also taken up and down the backstage corridors, in the costume rooms and the scenery docks. GAPA Principal Suzanne Gielgud explains “As well as running the school we also run Gielgud Management which is a theatrical agency that represents professional dancer, actors and singers in Film, TV and Theatre. One of our clients Matthew Cheney is in the cast of White Christmas and so this gave us the exclusive opportunity to be invited backstage along by the Production Company. They know we are training the next generation of professional performers here at GAPA and are happy to help inspire them with opportunities like this.”

After the tour, all 70 of the GAPA party settled into their top seats in the stalls to watch a thrilling performance of White Christmas, the feel good West End musical version of the classic 1954 film starring Bing Crosby and the hit song of the same name. The show featured traditional, feel good song and dance numbers and starred Aled Jones and Holby City star and former Strictly Come Dancing winner Tom Chambers. During the grand finale, theatrical snow fell from the ceiling and sprinkled over the audience members, enchanting children and adults alike, ensuring that they did get a White Christmas after all!

“It was so exciting to be invited to the Stage Door afterwards where Tom Chambers, Aled Jones and Matthew Cheney posed for photos with us and signed our programmes. It was a perfect end to a perfect night,” said 14 year Eloise Harwood from Worthing.

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