UCLU Musical Theatre’s keystone volunteering project The Big One swept the 2012/13 Arts Awards, winning UCLU Arts Project of the Year and UCLU Volunteering Society of the Year for Musical Theatre, as well as the UCL Social Enterprise Award sponsored by Santander Universities. In 2013 student volunteers came together to stage a production of Hairspray at Regent High School in Camden, with students from both Regent High and UCL Academy performing. Building on this initial success, this year The Big One is back and better than before, performing High School Musical in a West End venue in February. Pi spoke with the project’s founder and producer, Sam Lansdale, to discuss the project further.
Lansdale founded the project in 2011 just four days after enrolling at UCL. Since then he has earned the 1-UCL Award for Excellence and Endeavour for his work on the project, as well as a nomination for National Student Volunteer of the Year. His passion for the project is evident in the way he speaks about the young talent he works with. The Big One focuses strongly on encouraging young people to aspire to big goals, and on giving them a performance opportunity like no other. The project fosters the development of confident and happy students as well as working towards the final show.
Attending one of the first rehearsals for High School Musical in October, Pi found a group of relaxed and enthusiastic performers who were clearly very much enjoying learning new material. One student, who plays a leading role in the show, said, “I really enjoyed working on Hairspray last year and it was a big part of my life for a long time. Now I think it’s pretty cool that I can do it again with High School Musical and be in a bigger part.” Volunteers and performers alike seemed optimistic about the project’s outcomes.
Community outreach is an important part of the project’s philosophy. Originally inspired by Gareth Malone’s community outreach choir projects, The Big One aims to give something back to the community and provide opportunities in the arts to those who might not otherwise have them. Many members of its forty-strong cast are from less well-off backgrounds, and there will also be a free matinee performance of the show for schools and community projects. In addition, ticket prices have been driven down to as little as £3 for the public performances (from 11th to 13th February) in order to promote ease of access to the arts and to inspire not only its cast, but also a wider audience who may not otherwise be able to attend the theatre.
You can support this project by attending High School Musical at the Shaw Theatre on Euston Road on Tuesday 11th and Thursday 13th February 2014 at 19.00. Tickets are priced at £3 and will be available at the CSC Reception on the second floor of the Bloomsbury Building.
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