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Disney launches musical theatre education programme for primary schools

Disney Musicals in Schools Programme. Photo: Sara Stathas
Disney Musicals in Schools Programme. Photo: Sara Stathas
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Disney is to launch a new education programme in London that aims to give primary school teachers professional support and development to produce their own musicals.

Young performers taking part will have the opportunity to perform their work at a showcase at the Lyceum Theatre in the West End, home to The Lion King.

The project, which allows primary teachers to create their own productions of Disney musicals including The Lion King, Aladdin and The Aristocats, aims to "embed a theatre arts programme" into the participating schools.

Five London primary schools will be selected to take part in the Disney Musicals in Schools residency programme, which is a collaboration with London-based Eastside Educational Trust.

Disney films such as The Lion King, The Jungle Book, Aladdin, The Aristocats and Cinderella have been adapted into 30-minute musicals by Disney, in partnership with licensing body Music Theatre International.

The programme will be delivered by musical theatre professionals, who will work in schools in collaboration with teachers to develop the skills needed to create future musical theatre productions.

The 17-week programme will work on acting, singing and dancing skills for children, as well as providing experience in backstage work, before culminating in a production of the chosen show at their school. This will be followed by the West End showcase.

The scheme, which originated seven years ago in the US, launches in the UK next year, with workshops at schools beginning in September 2017.

Fiona Thomas, vice president of live entertainment at the Walt Disney Company, said the main aim of bringing the programme to the UK was to create "sustainable theatre programmes in under-resourced, public primary schools".

"The growing body of evidence that links access to the arts and life chances makes us very proud to be able to work in partnership with Eastside Education Trust to introduce Disney Musicals in Schools," Thomas said.

Eastside director Christopher Enticott added; "We are delighted to be working in partnership with Disney to support children and their teachers to develop the skills to produce a musical theatre show. The programme will bring a little bit of magic to young performers and audiences alike, which we hope will develop into a lifelong love of the arts."

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