Shropshire Star

Review: Joy and emotion as Shropshire drama school celebrates 40 years

A Shropshire dance school celebrated four decades of dance and music with a theatre spectacular, writes Ellie Blackwell.

The Viv Kelly dance and theatre group celebrated 40 years

The Viv Kelly School of Dance and Theatre celebrated a fabulous 40 years with hugs, hope and heartfelt emotion at Shrewsbury's Blackburn Theatre.

From humble beginnings in 1983 as a small dance group in Worthen, the school’s founder, Viv, passionately recalled her lifelong ‘need to dance’ which has emboldened generations upon generations in the joyous art of dance and theatre. For the tight knit adult dancers (strikingly adorned for the occasion in sparkly red waistcoats and bows) it was just that: rekindling a forgotten love.

Taking my seat in the intimate theatre, I watched years’ worth of love and support showcased in a beautiful slideshow of comments and flashback photos.

The Viv Kelly dance and theatre group celebrated 40 years

Met by whistles and cheers, the stage finally erupted with the sound of tap shoes accompanying 42nd Street. We then sat back and enjoyed a showstopping medley with numbers from the likes of Annie and Oliver to Miss Saigon and West Side Story. Lindsay Kelly, who continues to run the school ensured that we really did have ‘a good time’.

Indeed, the most glorious thing about this show, was the pure joy emanating from the stage. During the dance to High Sschool Musical’s classic, We’re All In This Together, I was (rather emotionally) taken straight back to my 10-year-old self on stage - exhilarated and radiating pride. Amidst a frantic flurry of young dancers brandishing curlers, makeup, and hairspray, on Saturday night I 10 ten-year-old Beau eagerly waiting backstage to perform in her very first show.

The Viv Kelly dance and theatre group celebrated 40 years

I even spoke to the beaming dad of two daughters who grew up in The Viv Kelly School, who openly confessed that it made him so ‘happy and proud’ to see them having the time of their life on stage. It very much is a family affair, as mothers and sons danced together on stage; extraordinarily, the show’s co-creator Chrissie Purslow has even performed alongside all three of her sisters within Viv Kelly.

Also inspired by Viv back in the early days, Yeovil’s Octagon Theatre manager Adam reminisced backstage over lifelong friendships and fun before singing stirring songs from Fiddler on the Roof and Crazy for You. This musical montage even drew other former members from far and wide to be part of this milestone moment with the group that changed their lives. Former member Kai jumped off the train with mere minutes to spare before performing a jaunty number from Me and My Girl.

The Viv Kelly dance and theatre group celebrated 40 years

Bursting with the warm fuzzy glow of childhood memories, every inch of me ached to be on stage with them. As poignantly put by my ex-theatre comrade, Emily, no matter who you are, shape, size, age, gender- you name it - there is always a place for everyone on stage. For me, that is what Saturday night, and all Viv Kelly shows past and present will always celebrate.

The Viv Kelly dance and theatre group celebrated 40 years