West End stars to pass on tips as Doncaster school launches performing arts project

Stars of stage and screen are to pass on tips to students at a Doncaster secondary school after the launch of an innovative performing arts project.

By Darren Burke
Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 3:07 pm

Ridgewood School in Scawsby has become the first UK state school to launch a partnership with Arts International, which will see performers from a string of West End musicals and stage shows visit pupils to pass on their expertise.

Olivier award winning actress Leanne Jones who starred in Hairspray in London has already visited while Sam Lathwood, who is currently appearing in the West End production of Mary Poppins will visit next week.

The partnership aims to combat some of the recent pressures faced by students across the country, aims to support mental health and wellbeing and create a welcoming community for all.

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Leanne Jones has passed on her knowledge to pupils at Ridgewood School in Doncaster. (Photo: Getty).

Recent reports show that Britain’s teenagers are facing unprecedented challenges to their mental health and wellbeing with lockdown, school closures, personal loss and exam uncertainty all adding to the pressures on students.

Research has shown that engagement in the arts and particularly the performing arts can build teams within schools.

The school already has a strong reputation for excellence in the performing arts, including the recent sell-out production of High School Musical.

Headteacher Andy Peirson said: “As well as achieving their academic potential, we place great store on students enjoying their time at Ridgewood and becoming responsible members of society. We know that our partnership with Arts International will help us bring our community together after a difficult period for all schools and create wonderful opportunities to develop confidence, creativity and teamwork.”

Arts International will brings leading performers from theatre, TV and film to inspire students around the world. Artists include the cast members from Hamilton, Mary Poppins, Grease, Hairspray, Come From Away, The Crown and Downton Abbey.

Leanne, who won her Olivier award for her role as Tracy Turnblad in the West End production of Hairspray said: “Arts International already works with students in five countries and we are thrilled to be working with Ridgewood.

"We were welcomed so warmly at Ridgewood and saw students with fantastic talent. The skills that we will help develop will support students not only perform but become better managers, lawyers, teachers, partners, parents and friends of the future.”