Thinking of trying Stagecoach Theatre School

(70 Posts)
mumsnutty Fri 25-Mar-11 21:47:27

I'm not a pushy mother but have a rather energetic 4 yo DD who loves dancing and singing. Googled Stagecoach theatre school and saw some mixed feedback from MN a few years ago.

Does anyone have any recent feedback before I part with my cash?

Can you stay and watch initially?

Thanks for your helpsmile

JETS Fri 25-Mar-11 21:50:05

my girls did a stage coach week in the hols loved it great etc perhaps a good way to see if she likes it

McDreamy Fri 25-Mar-11 21:53:42

my 8 year old DD is trying it for the first time in the Easter holidays.

MollieO Fri 25-Mar-11 21:58:07

It's a franchise so it depends on your local area. Ds started in yr 1, suggested by his class teacher. He loves it and moved up to the 3 hr class as soon as he turned 6. I'd never heard of it before Ds started. However it was amazing how many people I knew whose children had done it at some stage (we'd just never spoken about it). They give them end of term reports on their progress.

mumsnutty Fri 25-Mar-11 22:07:50

Thanks for the replies, we're based in Manchester so looking at the branches there. Agree will try the holiday one if they have it available in this region.

elphabadefiesgravity Sat 26-Mar-11 15:47:08

I know the lady who runs the Manchester branches, they are very well run, she has been running them for years and is very well thought of withing the network.

To start with you pay a deposit of £25 so your child gets to do a 2 week trial before you have to pay for the rest of the term.

and yes they do workshops all through the summer holidays.

manicinsomniac Sun 27-Mar-11 17:51:01

I think the quality is very poor to be honest.

Children have fun there but it is no substitute for real drama, dance and singing lessons.

Only an opinion but I say this as a drama teacher with dance teaching qualifications.

MollieO Sun 27-Mar-11 18:06:33

What aspects are poor? It is easy to generalise but I'm curious to hear why a professional is critical.

mel38 Sun 27-Mar-11 20:30:45

Whether its poor or not all i can say is my daughters confidence has grown loads since she has been going in september last year , she has a fantastic time ........

Mamaz0n Sun 27-Mar-11 20:37:44

I was contemplating Stagecoach for DD 6.
She is quite shy but loves to sing and dance and longs to "be on a stage" though what for im not sure she thinks.

Is it as hideaously expensive as i have been lead to believe? just what do you get for your money? i can't seem to find that out from the website.

elphabadefiesgravity Sun 27-Mar-11 20:38:11

What isn't "real" about the lessons at Stagecoach? (From someone married to a teacher with qualifcations who teaches at several leading vocational dance/drama school in the UK whose daughter attends Stagecoach.

elphabadefiesgravity Sun 27-Mar-11 20:40:00

Incidentally for the OP the principal of the Manchester branch is highly qualified and is was an ABRSM examiner, and all her teachers have teaching and professional qualification such as PGCE, ISTD associate etc.

MollieO Sun 27-Mar-11 21:15:17

All ds's teachers are qualified. He is 6 and does the 3 hr class. They do SN hour of drama, an hour of dance and an hour of singing. They get written end of term reports on how they have done. Not sure if that is every term. He is at the end of his second term next week.

His singing teacher was able to identify his exceptional talent for singing so I assume she's qualified. Without me saying anything his school music teacher recently told me he is gifted in singing. Or maybe she isn't qualified either. hmm

Whatever the case Ds enjoys going. It is £21 per week which works out at £7 per hour. I think that is reasonable. Once your dc has had a trial you then pay for the term which you can pay in one go or over the course of the term in three cheques.

MollieO Sun 27-Mar-11 21:16:16

An hour not SN - predictive text ....

elphabadefiesgravity Sun 27-Mar-11 22:36:05

Reports in December & July Mollie

PaperView Sun 27-Mar-11 22:44:59

Elpha - your friends schools are not representative of all stagecoach schools. DH worked for one and does not have a qualification (although has taught performing arts at BTEC level).
There is no requirement for the principals to have any experience either - each one is a franchise and you just apply for one.

manicinsomniac Mon 28-Mar-11 02:56:45

well, from what I have seen (which admittedly does not cver the whole country, only a few areas):
The teachers are not necessarily qualified.
The dance is very general and non specific (doesn't train a child like formal ballet, modern, tap etc)
The classes are large and very mixed ability
It is very expensive

mel38 - oh absolutely, it can help a child's confidence, I wouldn't dispute that. It seems to be great fun.

MollieO Mon 28-Mar-11 10:17:15

Understood manic. I suppose it's what you want. If Ds showed an interest in dance I'd send him to separate dance classes. I like the fact that it's mixed ability and they do a range of different things. It is nice that they spend three hours together rather than Ds flitting from class to class with a load of different children in each one. His class has 8 in it which I don't think is particularly large.

His school music teacher said it is a bit 'Disney' and I should consider separate singing lessons for Ds. He's joining our local church boy's choir and the lady that runs that will sort out singing lessons. It will be interesting to see the difference. What Stagecoach has taught him is to take direction. At his choir audition they were very impressed at how well he listened and followed what he'd been asked to do. That definitely comes from Stagecoach.

I don't think £7 an hour is expensive. It is the cheapest activity Ds does!

elphabadefiesgravity Mon 28-Mar-11 11:56:01

To be fair the majority of the children that go to Stagecoach are not looking for syllabus dance lessons and those that are attend ballet and tap at a dance school but go for more of the drama side of things. Many dance schools don't provide this or if they do are quite stagey rather than dealing in thigs like improvisation, devising, creating characters and getting the kids to decide things for themselves. At our school there are a lot of children that tried syllabus ballet but it didn't work out.

The class sizes are capped at 15, this is actually much smaller than the class sizes at dd's ballet school.

Mollie (dh is a vocal coach who was classically trained but now works in musical theatre) you may find that the main difference in individual voice lessons/church choir is the type of voice production taught in conventional classsical singing is based on a certain sound. In musical theatre singers are encouraged to be able to sing in different voice qualities according to the needs of the show/character.

Dd is quite serious and does Stagecoach, plus tap, ballet and modern (though she covers a lot of modern at Stagecoach too). I would say that Stagecoach has been the most benefit to her so far. it was interesting to see that when she took part in a local drama festival the adjudicator there was looking for different things (she preferred the dance school stagey style of drama) but the following day at a workshop with one of the leading children's casting directors they were looking for a much more truthful interpreation - the style she learns at Stagecoach.

Dh says that a lot of what happens at Stagecoach is similar (obviously at a more age appropraite level) than what the students do at drama school.

MollieO Mon 28-Mar-11 13:08:27

I love the fact that it's inclusive. It doesn't matter if you don't have the best singing voice or aren't the best dancer you still get an opportunity to participate. I think that's the most important thing. There seems to be a complete lack of competitive parenting, which is good too.

mumsnutty Wed 30-Mar-11 21:12:50

Thanks for all your feedback, I'm going to give it a whirl as we need a fun activity to keep her occupied and as she loves to sing and dance, feel this is perfect. When she is a bit older and if she enjoys and has the ability I'll look at ballet, tap, etc but for now this will do.

Elpha - thanks for feedback about the Manchester branch too!

jamesjoyce Sat 02-Apr-11 17:36:44

My daughter has been in Stagecoach for years. It has helped her confidence grow immensely. However, I do note that there are kids who have been there for up to eight years and cannot sing, dance or act. There are a sizeable number of these. What I want to know is what are they being taught for the fortune that parents pay out? I don't think we get value for money from the teachers (I'm not going to say which branch this is). I want my daughter to go to a school where they will draw out her skills in acting, singing and dancing; she is particularly good at the latter two. Problem is, she is happy where she is. I think the owner of the franchise just gets rich by running a rather nice club for kids but not much more.

Grockle Sun 10-Jul-11 18:15:13

Eeek, it's a lot, isn't it? DS visited our local school this weekend and loved it. But my purse is groaning at the thought of the cost. I really find it hard to believe it is worth it but the principal was so enthusiastic and DS was so excited about the prospect...

woolleybear Tue 12-Jul-11 09:41:42

Anyone have any experience of the Redhill Reigate Stagecoach, or the Caterham Coulsdon one? We are thinking of giving it a go but it is so much money!

mugglelady Sun 17-Jul-11 21:41:22

Have you considered Razzamataz, if you Google razzamataz theatre schools it will come up. There are quite a few of them now across the country (I think its a franchise set up), my daughter (7) has attended the Nottingham school for around a year now and loves it. It's 2.5 hours on a Saturday for her (I think this increases to 3 hours when she turns 8) and is about 13 pounds a week (you have to pay termly). It's also split into around an hour of singing, acting, and dancing.

mumeeee Tue 26-Jul-11 10:37:03

I considered Stagecoach when my DD's were younger but found they were to expensive. Instead they went to the local Arts centre that rubs Drama classes for children. Teens and young adults. DD3 19 is still there and is now in the oldest youth class. She has also just started a film class which is for 14 to 25year olds. I know they that is a long way off for you OP but what I'm getting at is that any Drama class will boost a Childs confidence. DD2 wanted to get more experience so she joined another local organisation which did more musical stuff. Have a look around you'll probably find similar classes in your area that won't cost an arm and a leg and won't be ad pushy as Stagecoach.

dstinson Fri 23-Dec-11 20:06:22

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dstinson Fri 23-Dec-11 20:07:40

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lockets Fri 23-Dec-11 20:15:37

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unreasonablemuch Fri 23-Dec-11 20:17:30

I worked in theatre for a long time and none of the children I have worked with in main parts came from stagecoach apart from group choirs used etc although I'm not saying there weren't any just in my experience.

They had all done ballet, tap, modern and musical theatre.

That said if it's just for fun as obviously only four go for it but I would be tempted to have a look at a variety of places first,

Aikidokaress Sun 10-Feb-13 13:43:42

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BeckAndCall Mon 11-Feb-13 19:34:57

Note to new readers - this is an old thread and the poster above me is advertising blatantly and is doing so on another thread elsewhere too.

homebythesea Fri 15-Feb-13 10:41:25

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homebythesea Fri 15-Feb-13 10:43:30

We took DD out of Stagecoach precisely because there was no focus on improving technique or developing talent- it was just a Sat morning club. For the same money she is now doing focused dancing and acting classes elsewhere and is developing her talents far better. I feel. Now we wasted the years at Stagecoach

bowerbird Fri 15-Feb-13 13:06:09

Homeby I completely agree. Stagecoach promotes itself as a builder of confidence in children, which I think is a bit bogus. I think the best way to instil confidence in children is to develop an actual performance skill.

difficultpickle Fri 15-Feb-13 22:38:39

Depends what you want though, doesn't it? I posted up thread under another name. Ds loved it and really enjoyed peforming on stage. He is now a chorister and has so much confidence that in his second term he was asking to do solos. The development of that confidence started from Stagecoach.

Depends on what you want really. DS2 started Stagecoach at 4 solely because he needed time away from his severely disabled brother (I felt). He loves it (been going 7 years now). We sent him with no thoughts of it being anything other than a fun thing to do on a Saturday afternoon -in fact I quizzed the owner on how laid back it was before sending him - but a year or so ago he wanted to start auditioning for professional shows (west end tours) so we let him, and he's now managed to land the part in 2 out of 3 auditions hmm (had a 7 hour audition and through to final round of the one he didn't get - 7 hours of mainly dance, and believe me he is no dancer grin).

He does LAMDA exams for a more structured, recognised approach. He's recently managed to land himself a part in a pretty big production which involves some solo singing so I have arranged for him to have some private singing lessons (actually with his Stagecoach singing teacher who is very good). I will continue with those, and will look into him starting to take singing exams etc.

I send him to Stagecoach because he enjoys it and because it is inclusive- not for serious training. Although his Stagecoach also has a performance group that you have to audition for - he's in that, and that is treated more seriously and they get a lot of extra free tuition and the chance for extra performances.

He's also done some workshops and classes at the local regional theatre (which are cheaper although shorter). He enjoyed the workshops but wasn't as keen on the classes (although probably because there were some badly behaved kids there who kept messing around - I think he might enjoy the classes more if he tries them again when older).

So imo it's fine for fun stuff, and it's also fine if your child surprises you and ends up really going for it in a big way but in that case you might want to top up with some individual tuition (you would do anyway tbh unless they're attending a theatre school).

Oh whoops soorry zombie thread

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 18-Feb-13 19:56:15

It's fan to hear how your ds us doing. I remember when you were thinking if enrol long him way back. Dh had just stated running his first school.

Seriously? That's very funny. I remember really angsting about it and whether it would be too pushy and stagey for him. Little did I know how ds2 would turn out (off early tomorrow morning to get him some head shots done, then seeing doc later in the week to get medical certificate for his latest licence FFS - I have no idea where he gets it from! It's just lucky we don't live within the M25 or he'd be wanting to audition for everything!).

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 18-Feb-13 20:17:44

Is he involved in Cats?

What parts has he had. We're too far up North for anything serious but dd has had a few bits and one of my students got down to the last few for Charlie. Got Tosca coming up soon.

My boys tried it. They went twice. I was given the hard sell and had to buy both tap shoes (£25 each) and order T shirts (£12 each) straight away, and buy black track suit bottoms. The whole idea of "uniform" is really pushing parents to spend more and make activities in-affordable.

It was extremely expensive. The groups were really big. My youngest son was six, and ended up in the 4-7 group. Really too big difference between 4 year olds and 7 year old children for this to be productive at all. He said break time was really long, and the children were unruly and out of control, and throwing biscuits around.

My 10 year old was much happier with the age range in his group, but did not really enjoy it.

I told the teacher the boys were not happy and would not continue, and she told me because only the first two sessions of the new term were the trial sessions they could not have a free trial and I had to pay up. I told her "but we had prearranged that my children could not attend the two first lessons of the term because they were away" She said tough luck. I did not have to pay the £300 per child for the entire term, only the deposit, which was £70 for each child. hmm

Not Cats no, but don't want to say on a public forum. So far he's gone for the touring west end shows and has had luck in the ones where there's only a few kids (so they get thoroughly spoiled but don't have much in the way of rehearsals).

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 18-Feb-13 20:37:21

Pure quintessence - are you surecthatvwas stagecoach as lots of things don't add up.

The maximum class size is 15
Early Stages ;age 4-7 don't have break time
Main school only have 10 min break after two hours
The deposit for 2 Children for 2 weeks trial is £75 total. For Early Stages is £50 total.

The trial can happen any time during the first 4 weeks but not after that.

A 6 year old with a sibling in main school would have the option if being in Stage 1 which is around 6-8 age range as long as they were able to cope with 3 hours not 90 mins.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 18-Feb-13 20:38:30

Snd Stagevoavh don't do tap. jazz shoes cost £18 t shirts £10

Sorry, my mistake, jazz shoes - you can tell I only went twice!

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 18-Feb-13 20:41:28

Also the prices don't add up as the 2nd sibling gets 50% discount and 4-7 year olds are also half the price as hey do hdlf the amount of time.

It was most definitely Stagecoach.

Maybe they are not all run in the same way? My kids were asked to bring a snack for snack time. There were three sections, singing, acting and dancing. One break for snacks.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 18-Feb-13 20:43:22

They all have the same rules and prices set bybhead Ofice. Break time is a strict 10 mins so you get 3 55 minute classes.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 18-Feb-13 20:44:38

You can get jazz trainers which are more expensive (but not really suitable for under 9's

Jazz shoes as I ssud before are £18 (used to be £16 but went up last year)

So, what are you saying?

That I am for some strange reason lying about snack times?

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 18-Feb-13 20:46:24

No (though it is possible the 10 mins seemed longer to your ds

It is very worrying what you were told about prices etc. the principal could possibly have got into trouble if head office found out.

orangeandlemons Mon 18-Feb-13 20:47:53

My 6 year old ds ended up with a bloody noise at stagecoach. The teacherleft the room. There were definitely more than 20 kids there. A fight broke out between the older ones, and one of them thumped ds.

I removed him immediately and demanded and got a full refund.

It is totally bizarre. You have refuted absolutely every single part of my post telling me it is untrue. confused

I must have Alzheimers.

But if you are in some way involved with head office, you might want to audit how the various branches are run, and the prices they quote.

And also the practice of offering trial sessions, then back tracking, and then phoning to get deposits paid after a child has decided to not take up the classes after all. Because whether the price for a deposit was £70 or £75, and the price for shoes £25 or £18 officially, is the point not rather the poor customer service and experience of Stagecoach?

(Which you are not really helping - a good customer service manager would try refute the situation and say something like "oh my goodness me what poor service you have had, let me assure you that this is not the way it should be" - or something to that effect)

x post.

There were no written board where prices were visible. But they were on the order form, which I dont have a copy of. They did not have my older sons size, but I bought the shoes for my 7 year old cash after the first day.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 18-Feb-13 20:53:04

I am not involved with head office. I am principal of a local school and therefore know the rules I have to adhere to.

If someone isn't following the rules then they should be reported

I have occasionally in an emergency ran with larger classes (staff illness so had to combine two age groups) but then made sure I was around to help too.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 18-Feb-13 20:55:22

I do get cross when I hear people not followingvthecrules as they are there for a reason and it impacts on those of us who do our utmost tonprovide a good service.

Copthallresident Mon 18-Feb-13 20:57:37

DD did it for 10 years, when she started the franchisee was fantastic, looked like a bag lady but recruited excellent teachers and really developed exciting productions, chances to appear in West End showcases etc. She also allowed in talented youngsters on scholarships which made for a diverse and stimulating student body. Quite a few went on to the Brit School. DD had auditions, and got to grade 7 with Lamda. DD was having problems with some difficult characters at school and at Stagecoach she could relax . She also had private singing lessons with the teacher beforehand.

A new franchisee took over, supposedly a professional actress but I reckon it can only have been the blonde bimbo in farce, she was a bit wet and definitely in it only for the middle class money. It just became somewhere DD hung out with friends. However without a doubt her success at Stagecoach fed into her success in school drama.

Copthallresident Mon 18-Feb-13 21:01:24

Sorry, to clarify DD did Stagecoach.

And part of the reason it became less stimulating was that Stagecoach Head Office decided to impose the productions, so that instead of well known musicals, they were performing poorly written "down with the kids" supposedly edgy stuff which missed the mark, and the kids and the teachers thought were rubbish.

Ds1 loves drama, and has "stage confidence", he was selected to represent his school at a public speaking competition, and also got the role of MacBeth at a borough school production (nods to Copthall, which is why I think he got his offer at Emanuel wink as he was very excited about that on the day of his interview).

It is definitely a very middle class area, and lots of parents send their kids to stage coach for confidence building.

Copthallresident Mon 18-Feb-13 21:05:31

Congratulations to little quint smile

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 18-Feb-13 21:07:23

I have to admit that gladrags was not our finest moment and I decided to do no more of those after that. Sometimes things work - sometimes they don't.

I think it does vary from franchise to franchise. Ours has started running a lot of one off free workshops with external choreographers etc which ds2 seems to enjoy. (Limited numbers you just have to get your name down quick). There are two styles of jazz shoes for sale at ours, the thin ones and then some which are more like a trainer & more expensive. When we joined we were told we didn't have to buy stagecoach branded gear - black tracky bottoms and a plain black or yellow t-shirt were fine. The only time I've been told to buy something in 7 years was a regular stagecoach t-shirt for performance group ( and we've had some freebies in our time).

Ds1 isn't in stagecoach agency btw - I think it's a bit expensive, and if we were going down that route there are other agents i'd prefer, but we still get told about the auditions (usually by the school principal). For theatre auditions you don't usually need an agent anyway (you do more often for film).

cory Tue 19-Feb-13 11:27:05

I have found it makes sense to ask around locally as Stagecoach groups can vary widely and are expensive at the best of times.

Doing this, we were able to find a small youth theatre who were considerably more affordable but who have done dd very well over the years.

raspberryroop Mon 25-Feb-13 12:57:47

two of mine go - Ds2 as he is interested and good - DD1 as she is a 'have a goer ' but has dyspraxia and finds the dancing hard. However I have been blown away by increase in confidence in both and have been impressed with the inclusive approach. It is quit expensive compared to voluntarily run stuff but for me having 2 of them do 3 hours in one place is time-wise/travel worth it and we have avoided a lot of the 'favoritism' which seamed to take part in the local am dram run group.

rockinhippy Mon 25-Feb-13 13:09:33

I second the poster who said that though great fun, it's a franchise business, geared to make money & not really a substitute for a proper stage school training, though of course that can vary a bit with your area, down to who owns & runs it, but having tried both Stagecoach which was fun & entertaining, but quite expensive, she didn't really learn much, nor do much in the way of shows, which she loves to do -

My now DD goes to another local small independent one, unlike Stagecoach, they don't just take anyone, they have a long waiting list & vet applicants by aptitude - DD was offered a place after she attended a weeks summer school - (they don't vet for that as its more about fun) she's been going a couple of years now & it is miles better all round, far more professional & they get involved in local festivals & stage performances too - & I was surprised its about half the price of our local Stagecoach

ElizaFyfe Sun 03-Mar-13 19:07:41

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cory Wed 06-Mar-13 09:37:27

Rockinhippy, I would say that being inclusive is not necessarily an obstacle to quality. Dd's youth theatre is totally inclusive and takes children with learning difficulties and physical disabilities as well as with NT children with a wide range of abilities, but still gets very good results. Everybody gets a part in their shows, they tend to get very good reviews in the local press and have recently won regional awards for the quality of their acting. Some of their children go on to stage school or the professional stage. Dd has learn a lot from them.

Mrsrobertduvall Thu 21-Mar-13 11:58:26

Dd went to something like Stagecoach from7-14 every Saturday morning and it got progressively worse. Huge staff turnover, and no productions..just showcases which were embarrassingly awful...we still have the dvds.

Luckily a friend set up her own drama/singing Saturday thing, with two professional singers/actors. It's fantastic...dynamic, two good shows a year and a fantastic group of friends for dd to hang out with.

Ant123 Mon 01-Sep-14 21:56:17

I would be very careful about using Stagecoach. I worked for a lovely school as a singing teacher for over 12 years. It came under new management. Unfortunately I was not paid at all for an entire terms work as the owner went bankrupt. Each franchise owner pays to use the Stagecoach name. Stagecoach are happy to take the money with very little quality control or help for owners and staff

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