Megan Flower couldn’t believe it when she was picked for the Razzamataz Theatre Schools scholarship in Carlisle last year, aged 16. “I struggled before with my confidence, but this has given me such a boost. I can’t say thank you enough,” she says. “Razz creates such a big, friendly community and there are so many opportunities. In one week recently I appeared in the West End, had my photo in The Stage newspaper and took part in the Leeds International Film Festival.”
That being part of Razz is like being in a big family is a common theme among the many young people (aged between six and 17) who have won 12 months of free study since the company became a partner seven years ago – an annual commitment of £32,000.
Once again a bumper 40 places are up for grabs in schools that can be found the length and breadth of the country – including Yeovil, Medway, Sheffield and West Cumbria – with new ones always poised to launch.
Denise Hutton-Gosney set up the company in 2000 and since then the Razzamataz approach to training has proven very successful. In 2007, she even secured backing from Dragons’ Den panellist Duncan Bannatyne.
Hutton-Gosney is keen to stress how much the children attending the classes are benefiting from the performance skills being taught, whether or not they want to pursue a career in the arts.
“For the majority it’s most important in relation to developing social skills and having fun,” she says. “Being on stage instills a child with so much confidence – whatever they want to do in life.”
However, that doesn’t mean that Razzamataz students aren’t encouraged to be the best they can be, and that includes getting a taste of the professional side of the industry.
Hutton-Gosney is supported in her venture by a host of qualified professionals and figures from different areas of the industry.
There is the opportunity to become involved in gala performances at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End, too, and this year students are setting off to perform at Disneyland Paris in an exclusive Razzamataz show.
For the past few years, Razz has also been working with Top Talent Agency, through which a number of children have secured work in theatre productions, high-profile TV shows, film and modelling.
Razzamataz also runs the Future Fund. Designed to support graduating Razzamataz students to train at performing arts colleges, the programme is now in its third year.
To be in with a chance of winning one of The Stage Scholarships, all you have to do is fill in the school’s form online, stating why you want the scholarship, and demonstrate what you have to offer with a two-minute video of yourself performing. Don’t worry if the demo isn’t of a professional standard – raw talent and promise are what Razzamataz is looking for.
Let’s leave the final word to 12-year-old Charlie Clark (2016 winner at Razzamataz Barnet), who said: “Since a young age I have always liked dancing and singing, but I was nervous about going along to new clubs. At the first Razz session I made tons of friends, it wasn’t awkward at all. The scholarship has made me feel like I have achieved something, it has really helped me. I am really grateful to Razz and The Stage.”
Course: One-year performing arts
Educational level: School age (after school/weekend)
Number of scholarships offered: Up to 40
Value of scholarship: Up to £800 (£32,000 total)
What costs are covered? Fees
Where is the school? Various sites across the UK
Audition date: Dates vary by location
How to apply: Fill in an online application form. Applications open on May 2 and close on July 20.