The Wokingham Paper

Steppin Out celebrations: Drive-thru celebrations help mark 10th anniversary of theatre school classes running in Emmbrook

Steppin Out
The "Stepping Out Stars of Tomorrow" Theatre School celebrated their 10th anniversary on Saturday with a special event Picture: Steve Smyth for The Wokingham Paper

TO MARK a decade in showbusiness, more than 300 families held a drive-by celebration on Saturday.

It wasn’t the original plan: Steppin Out Stars of Tomorrow had intended to hold a special theatrical event, but the all-singing, all-dancing performances were nixed by the coronavirus.

So school principal, Shelley Otway, hit upon another way to allow her pupils to celebrate 10 years of the classes being run from The Emmbrook School – it has since expanded to include Woodley and Wargrave.

They were invited to drive past Hatchwood Mills in Winnersh, to deliver cards and presents and meet special guests: patron Matt Stirling, who has just returned to the set of Jurassic Park 4 where is an actor and stuntman, and Emma Lainsbury, who starred as Alice in Wonderland in the original production. She is currently studying at a Barcelona drama school.

And they could also enjoy an ice cream.

Ms Otway said: “I never thought it would be so well-received. The neighbours on Hatchwood Mills were so supportive. The children all came along, beeped their horn and got a free ice cream from me from Ian at Mr Whippy.

“It was nice to be able to support another local business in such difficult times.”

She continued: “They all bought with them pictures and cards and had their photos taken with themed Alice in Wonderland characters, our first-ever show.”

Although the planned anniversary performances won’t now go ahead, the old theatre adage ‘the show must go on’ has seen Ms Otway take her school – and community – online.

“We added daytime classes to keep the children entertained, free costume-making completions, held an online
talent comp, a weekly quiz and Facebook live events where the children could win prizes.”

And Saturday’s celebration brought cheer to Ms Otway,
who said: “I was so humbled by the amazing turnout and it gives me hope that I will have a business to return to in September when we get the green light from our venues and the government.” For more details, log on to www.steppinoutstars.co.uk

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