YOUNGSTERS aged nine to 19 are working on a full production of the West End Madness musical Our House, opening next week at the Palace Theatre.

It comes as part of a summer youth project designed by Southend Theatres to build confidence, help children make friends and develop any creative or performing tendencies they have.

The two-week project invites children to get involved in all aspects of putting on a professional production, from assistant directing to working in wardrobe, stage managing to assistant musical directing, lighting to sound, or taking part as a lead performer or being a member of the cast.

It started last Sunday and culminates in the live performance open to the public, starting on Thursday, August 7 and finishing on Sunday, August 10.

As in real life, an audition or interview had to take place, to decide upon the role suitable for each child.

Kelly Reynolds, producer of the show and community and education manager for Southend Theatres, said: “The kids are doing so well. They are really ploughing through the numbers and have gone so far in just a few days.

“A lot of the kids are into performing already, but they don’t have to be, or have any experience to be involved.

“A few youngsters who were on the technical side last year came back to be involved in the performing side, just because they had watched it and were swayed.”

When many of the kids arrive at the initial auditions and castings earlier on in the year, particularly the younger ones, they are clearly nervous. But a huge part of the project is about them socialising.

“It becomes like some sort of summer club,” said Kelly. “It’s such an intense process that the kids get close really quickly and build friendships fast.


“Because the age range is varied and they are working closely together, the older ones tend to look after the younger ones.

“When the project is over, it’s almost like a complete meltdown when they have to say goodbye and act like they’ll never see each other again.”

! Our House is on at the Palace Theatre, from Thursday, August 7 until SundayAugust 10. Tickets are available from southend or the box office on 01702 351135, from £13.50 (plus a £1.50 booking fee).