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Razzamataz record breakers, our final Stage scholars

Eleven-year-old Evie Gaskell only started to show an interest in performing earlier this year when she joined the weekly Saturday classes at Razzamataz Sheffield. Just a few months later she won the lead role in her school play and became the proud winner of one of this year’s 20 Stage/Razzamataz scholarships.

Evie’s mother Lynsey noticed a change in her daughter as soon as she began the classes. “Her confidence began to build straight away, and when she got the lead role in the school play I couldn’t wait to tell the Razzamataz leader Helen Green,” says Lynsey.

“We’d never even heard Evie sing and then at the performances people kept coming up and saying what a good singer she was.”

And what difference does winning the scholarship mean to Evie and her family? “More than anything, it is a big achievement for Evie, and makes her feel that she has been noticed.”

The Stage’s sponsorship of the scholarships has also led to both Evie and her mother having an increased interest in the publication and the industry as a whole: “The whole experience has given us a greater awareness of The Stage and what it reports on in the industry, which is something we didn’t have before.

We often go online and check updates on the website.”

Denise Hutton-Gosney founded Razzamataz Theatre Schools in 2000 and there are 38 franchised schools across the UK. During the three years of her association with The Stage, the number of scholarships has risen successively, increasing by 25% in 2013 alone.

This year’s scholars come from a host of locations stretching from Carlisle in the north-west to Exeter in the south-west. Their 20 awards are the largest number yet provided by a single scholarship partner.

“We felt we could offer more – there are so many worthy students out there,” says Hutton-Gosney. “There were at least 200 applicants this time and such genuine talent at each location. Yes, it’s about talent, but it’s also about enthusiasm too, and spotting potential as opposed to the finished article.”

Hutton-Gosney is aware that the scholarships she provides – each worth up to £600 for a year’s tuition (a commitment of £12,000 overall) – can make all the difference to whether a child can take part or not.

The scholarship has certainly made sure 14-year-old Toby Cordes can continue his classes at Razzamataz Sandwich, as his mother, Maddie explains: “Toby joined in September and now it’s great because it’s very local and he is able to enjoy quality teaching of acting, singing and dancing – while being part of a friendly and welcoming group.”

Maddie, who herself runs several music classes for a range of age groups, has also been “really impressed by the outreach work The Stage does”.

She adds: “I recognise the difference these scholarships and the exposure the winners get through the publication are making to those kids who wouldn’t get the opportunity otherwise.”

This year’s 20 winners are:

Barnet – Alannah Hoey; Carlisle – Samantha Dalton; Exeter – Amelia Lavis; Hampstead – Jordan Asije; Littlehampton – Callum Leech; Maidstone – Rachel Dunn; Mansfield – Hannah Lawrence; Medway – Charlotte Morris; Penrith – Will Hurst; Rickmansworth – Nicola Anstiss; Sandwich – Toby Cordes; Sheffield – Evie Gaskell; Street – Ethan Turnbull; Tonbridge – Emma Stockton; Weymouth – Jake Hounsome; Whitehaven – Ellie Ford; Wokingham – Poppy Ward; Woodley – Ben Lewis; Yeovil – Natalie Sproston;York – Lucas Wells

* The Razzamataz winners are the last of this year’s scholars. A full list and photoshoot of our 2013 winners will appear in the Christmas bumper edition of The Stage published on December 19. A video of the photoshoot will also be available to view.

Applications are now being invited from colleges and training institutes interested in participating in The Stage Scholarships for 2014.

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