This year marks the 10 year anniversary for Cirencester Performing Arts School. Charlotte Shepherd spoke to one of the founders Alison Mizzi about a decade of musical theatre for the town’s youngsters.

THIS WEEKEND the stage at Cirencester’s Sundial Theatre will once again come alive when children of all ages from the Cirencester Performing Arts School showcase their talents to parents and the community.

"Children love performing at the Sundial because it is a professional theatre," explained Alison Mizzi, one of the founders of the school.

"I like to choose a show that gives as many roles as possible to students. I want to give lots of children a chance to have a go."

This year Alison has chosen the musical "Gone With The Breeze" to celebrate the school’s 10 year anniversary. It is set in Hollywood and surrounds the search for a star. "The songs in the show are really great," Alison said.

For the school’s students, being in a show can be a great confidence-builder. "They also get the idea of working as a team and get the discipline of the theatre," said Alison. "Children gain a lot from being on stage."

One student Alex Miles-Clapton, is a perfect example of what musical theatre can do for a child. "When he first came to us he didn’t want to speak," remembers Alison. Several years on speaking is not a problem and Alex is this year’s male lead in the production. The story of the Cirencester Performing Arts School begins in 1999 when Alison searched around for a theatre class for her son Jack. "He was really interested in musical theatre but there was nothing in the vicinity," she said.

Spotting a void for musical theatre that needed filling, Alison teamed up with Jack’s piano teacher, Heather Timbrell, and the Cirencester Performing Arts School was born. "There was nothing training children in musical theatre in Cirencester at that time," Alison said.

First rehearsals were at the Stratton Village Hall with one group of children.

However as the group expanded the school moved to premises on St Peter’s Road where they have a small stage.

The school has gone from strength to strength. Every Saturday morning in term time four groups of children from ages 4-15 (from September children as young as three will be welcomed) are coached in the rudiments of acting by Alison and singing by Heather.

As well as a summer show the school also puts on an annual Christmas extravaganza to give as many students as possible the chance to shine.

"We train them to perform," said Alison.

Some of the students who joined in 1999 are now members of the advanced class and others have left to pursue their theatrical dreams.

The school can currently boast one past student at RADA and one at the Brit school.

And this September 11 year-old former pupil Hugo Docking will join the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London having won a 100 per cent scholarship to the prestigious school (the only one given at the age of 11 yrs). "Hugo had been with us for over six years starting in our primary group and concluding his time with us with major parts in our two shows at the Sundial," Alison said.

For Alison watching success is a great by-product of the school. "It is lovely to see them go on," she added.

For Alison the school is a great place for children of all abilities to shine. "Children just have to want to enjoy it and take part," she said.

The Cirencester Performing Arts School will take care of the rest.

For more information go to or call 01285 653077.

There is a workshop during the summer holidays on Friday, August 21 from 9.30am-12pm and 1pm-4pm. Each session costs £5.Or phone to book your place on a taster session on Saturday, September 5.

"Gone with the Breeze" is at the Sundial Theatre on June 2O and 21. For tickets call the box office on 01285 654228.