Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Stagecoach... an interview with the Principal

J has been going to Stagecoach for 4 weeks now and is absolutely loving it.  There is no Friday afternoon over tiredness instead its bouncing around getting ready for the class. She is full of confidence as she goes racing in to the main hall ready for registration each week. Therefore I thought it was time to find out a little bit more about Stagecoach Congleton's' Principal Chris Brown, what experience he has, why he decided to join Stagecoach and how he believes  it helps our children...
Stagecoach Congleton's principal Chris Brown

What’s your background in performing arts? If you studied, where and what did you study?
I have been interested in performing arts for as long as I can remember. When I was in Year 2 in school back in America, I sang my first solo in a school production. That lit the flame. Throughout school, I performed in music groups and in theatre. I began working in small professional theatre in Baltimore when I was 14 performing in shows including Mary Poppins, Joseph and the amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Cabaret o name a few.
I was offered a place at the prestigious Syracuse University Drama department where I trained for four years alongside classmates including Taye Diggs. Upon graduating I moved to New York City where I began my professional career, working in productions including Grease (Doody/ Danny), Miss Saigon, Beauty and the beast (Gaston) and Starlight express (Greaseball). Along the way I have had the good fortune to work with people including Arlene Phillips, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Macintosh.
I stepped out of the business in 2007 to focus on my family – my wife (also West End performer) Louise, and my two boys.
How long have you been Principal at Stagecoach Congleton?
I am a new Stagecoach Principal, having taken over Stagecoach Congleton in September 2015. This is my second term as Principal.
Why did you decide to join Stagecoach as a Principal?
One of my best friends became a Stagecoach Principal when he left professionl theatre. I actually taught for him for a couple years, teaching both acting and singing. Over the years, a few other friends have also become Principals. We spoke to Stagecoach off and on over the years, waiting for the right opportunity to come up. When Congleton became available, we decided it was the right time to become Stagecoach Principals.
What’s your favourite aspect of Stagecoach?
There are so many aspects of Stagecoach that I love. First and foremost is working with the kids. There is such a diverse range of abilities, interests and personalities. I love the way they all come together and work towards a common goal. We encourage our students to constantly challenge themselves and each other while making sure that they also encourage and support each other.
Being one of the largest networks of theatre arts schools also helps us provide opportunities that we otherwise wouldn't be able to provide. From the Stagecoach Agency to performance opportunities in the region and across the country, we are able to create events and memories.
How do you think Stagecoach prepares children for later life?
Stagecoach helps students in a variety of subtle ways. For those who want to pursue a life in the performing arts it’s fairly obvious, however the vast majority of our students don't necessarily want to go down that route. 
For them, performing arts training helps develop their soft skills – communication, teamwork, empathy, adaptability, creative thinking, leadership and confidence. We are not interested in making children into copies of each other, but in helping them develop the confidence to be exactly who they are. 
No matter what our students do later in their lives they will be interacting with other people. Training in performing arts can give a young person the skills they need to succeed no matter where their paths may lead.
 Thank you Chris for letting me interview you!
As an onlooker you can easily see the passion flow from the teachers to the children and how it brings them out of their shells. I can not wait to see the show they will perform for us after I sneaked a little peek through the door on collection when I arrived early.
To find out more about Stagecoach and to see if there is one near you check out the website here.

*J has been given a complimentary term at Stagecoach in return for an honest review.

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