While every business has felt financial pressure during the pandemic, Razzamataz has pressed ahead with its Future Fund auditions and continues to provide grants for the graduates of 2020
For the graduates of 2020, the normal round of parties, proms and celebrations have all been put on hold. What’s more concerning is the uncertainty surrounding their futures and the financial pressure on families through the pandemic.
For the last five years, franchise network, Razzamataz Theatre Schools, has been offering scholarships to students who are continuing their performing arts training at college, to assist with some of the cost implications that their courses will incur. While every business has felt the financial pressure, Razzamataz has pressed ahead with its Future Fund auditions and continues to provide grants for the graduates of 2020.
“This year of students have already lost so much but we were determined that one of those things wouldn’t be the chance to audition in front of an experienced panel of industry judges to be awarded a scholarship to help towards the cost of their course,” says Denise Hutton-Gosney, MD and founder of Razzamataz. “We set up the Future Fund scholarship to support students achieve their professional dreams of working in the performing arts industry. We know that many families have incurred financial difficulty during COVID-19 so we are really pleased to be able to help out a little.”
For the first time ever, the auditions were held over Zoom, a new skill that students had to master. They were asked to perform a song, dance and drama piece in either musical theatre or commercial style, which reflects the curriculum that Razzamataz offers.
This year’s judges were Shekinah McFarlane, currently starring in SIX the Musical as Anne of Cleves. Previous credits include Lion King, American Idiot, Tommy, Hair, Parade and RENT. The second judge was Andrew Wright, two time Olivier Award nominee, West End choreographer and director and one of the biggest names in West End creative teams.
The standard of this year’s entries was again very high but after much deliberation, the first prize of £3,000 was awarded to Lewis Logie, age 18 from Razzamataz Carlisle, who was also offered a place on Andrew Wright’s online choreography course.
Lewis has been offered a place at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance where he will be fine-tuning his skills that he learnt at Razzamataz on the BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance course.
The judges were impressed by his focus and well-prepared audition, which is very important in this competitive industry. Andrew says: “Lewis is a very strong dancer and I would love to see his own choreography. Northern will be a great college for him and he has lots of potential and gave us a really positive audition.” Shekinah adds: “You could tell that he was committed to the style of Fosse and took time to understand what he was dancing. We can see that he is ready to learn more.”
The runners up were Nathan Stone, Razzamataz Medway, Grace Carroll, Razzamataz Medway and Mia Lewis, Razzamataz Sutton Coldfield who received £500 each towards their training. The remaining candidates received a £100 gift voucher for Amazon towards equipment, resources or dancewear.
The Future Fund is just one of the many opportunities that Razzamataz franchisees can take advantage of. Being part of a network of performing arts professionals, who combine their knowledge and contacts about the industry with proven business success, is a winning combination for successful theatre schools. Through the pandemic, Razzamataz has worked with a number of highly skilled and experienced performers, including Kerry Ellis, leading lady on Broadway and the West End.
“I love Razzamataz and if there had been something like this around when I was younger, I would have been beside myself,” says Kerry. “I was lucky enough to get to work with some of the young inspiring students and their enthusiasm and passion were mind-blowing. Having scholarships to support and help young people find a way into performing is a very special and invaluable opportunity and I can’t wait to see what the future brings for them.”
The growing network has almost 50 schools up and down the country and students, staff and principals regularly take part in fundraising events to help towards the Future Fund.