A theatrical arts company in Tameside celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Mainstream Theater Arts was established in April 1981 when producer and theater and event director J Barry Carr and choreographer Carole Hart converted a former hat factory in Denton into a rehearsal studio.
The original idea was to develop and rehearse acts for international theaters and clubs, but they decided to run a few lessons during studio downtime.
Classes proved to be very popular and the school expanded to cover a range of dance styles and add acting, singing and musical theater to its repertoire.
MTA has also begun supplying performing arts teachers to schools, teaching its specially formulated curriculum tailored to each school’s needs, as well as visiting primary and secondary schools in Greater Manchester with theater performances around the school. education on topics important to young people.
Since then, thousands of young people have taken MTA’s acting, dance, singing and musical theater classes and participated in performances, some returning later with their own children and even grandchildren.
MTA’s own students have performed in a wide range of shows over the years, from small productions of studio plays to spectacular pantomimes and dance musicals, including a performance at the Millennium Dome (now the O2 Arena) in London in 2000 on behalf of the borough. of Tameside. Many of these shows were written by MTA’s in-house creative team.
Many former MTA students have gone on to pursue careers in the performing arts, even appearing in West End shows.
For former students who pursued careers unrelated to the performing arts, the skills taught at the MTA continued to benefit them, perhaps unexpectedly, as they found the techniques and life skills taught in invaluable MTA courses.
Stephen Poole first came to the MTA on an official visit during his run as Deputy Mayor in 1996 and again in 2001-02 as Mayor.
After his first visit, he became an active member of adult classes, appearing in several shows, including as a pantomime.
He said: “Mainstream is a magical experience for young people. As well as having fun, they learn many important skills they can take with them into the future, such as teamwork, public speaking and the confidence to do so, and of course playing. in productions with the discipline that demands it.
“I loved being an adult member and participating in shows and classes. I am very proud to have been part of such a great performing arts school and would recommend Mainstream to any parent for their child. Here comes the next 40 plus years!
Drama Education Manager David Chadderton, who joined the company in 1991, added: “I joined Mainstream to work on the tenth anniversary show, sat behind the sound desk to scout the tapes with a pencil, so that you can determine from there how long I have been here.
“Since then I have been involved in many areas of MTA’s work – classes, performances, work in schools, touring theater in education – so I have been fortunate enough to be able to see for myself how many young people have benefited from what the company does.
“I’ve seen students develop their skills and confidence to make them almost unrecognizable – sometimes even to their parents – as well as watching groups of students bond in class or in the rehearsal room, learning everything can accomplish through teamwork and solidarity with each other.
“It has been a privilege to work with the Mainstream team and with all the students who have passed through our school.
“It’s been a tough time for the industry, not to mention its students of all ages, but MTA has taken this time to develop new incentives for the company and look forward to launching them this year.”
MTA director and co-founder Barry Carr told the reporter, “Wow, they’re right – time flies. I remember so many great moments from our history.
“Yes, we had a lot of tough times as well, some incredibly tough ones, but when those times came, luckily I was producing and directing shows, and during those times there were always times when kids or young adults specific, through their bravery and hard work, their sheer talent or just their innocent excitement for the show inspired me to find solutions to keep going.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky to have worked with so many talented team members and amazing gifted kids.”
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