Up Next Christmas 2017

Penyrheol Theatre

22nd / 23rd December 2017

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On behalf of Swansea’s rebranded Evening Post, SWANSEA ONLINE (part of Wales Online) the Up Next creative team from Jermin Productions along with some familiar talent returned to a South Wales Stage to produce the biggest Christmas Extravaganza Swansea has ever seen in the form of UP NEXT CHRISTMAS 2017

“It’s time to celebrate the NEXT generation at Christmas! It’s YOUR time to stand UP and stand OUT!”

Congratulations to all the budding performers who took part in the festive spectacular show “UP NEXT CHRISTMAS 2017”. This production, which showcased the brilliant talents of many schools, academies and soloists also had good will and festive cheer at is heart as the show raised money for Maggie’s.

This was the first of the “UP NEXT” style branded shows to run at Christmas and the team behind the Christmas extravaganza (Swansea’s Evening Post and local company Jermin Productions) were delighted with how the show went.

“We wanted to have a Christmas Production that allows young performers to show off their skills, passion and talent amongst other like-minded individuals and groups,“ explains Nia from Jermin Productions,  “The support from the groups and schools has been fantastic, everyone put so much effort into their routines and costumes, and the talent on stage was astounding!”

The event also helped raise awareness and funds for the Maggie’s and the Mr. X Appeal whose work throughout Swansea and South Wales is hugely recognised by many families going through Cancer and offers the practical, social and emotional care that people need.

Mark Jermin (from Mark Jermin Stage School who celebrated its 25th anniversary this year) added, “My students and parents were thrilled to be involved as it was a great platform for many to have their moment to shine and to share talent on stage. It definitely made people feel super Christmassy too!”

Schools involved in Up Next Christmas included:

Hazel Johnson School of Dance which has been training pupils for over 50 years. Some of this school’s alumni include Phillip Michael Thomas who performed in West End shows such as Mamma Mia and Oliver and the Oscar winner and Swansea born Catherine Zeta Jones. Up Next saw the Hazel Johnson school perform 3 beautiful Christmas routines involving an intricate light display which went down brilliantly with the audience.

The Rachael Smith School of Dance took us on a beautiful journey to Narnia with their slick and very polished routines. The students from this school who regularly take part in numerous Dance festivals study Tap, Modern Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical and Acrobatics and their skills were showcased in their routines. “A big Thank You to all for making this show happen, we have really enjoyed being part of UP NEXT” says Dance school principal Rachael Griffiths.

The Shirley Rees School of Dance also demonstrated their skills with their delightful Christmas routine, at a Theatre which is of course very local to the school. The Shirley Rees pupils have vast experience of performing in Pantomimes and Dance school productions as well as taking part in ISTD Exams and this showed in their performance.

Offering a Christmas Urban theme to the show was Synergy Dance Collective, whose creative take on the film Home Alone was a real crowd pleaser of the evening closing Act One of the show. The dancers were hugely committed to the style and their musicality was impeccable, with lots of passion shining through.

Olivia’s School of Rhythmic Gymnastics showcased the skills of some amazing mini gymnasts with their Christmas performance involving soloists whom regularly compete at the Welsh Championships.

Olivia’s School of Rhythmic Gymnastics (OSORG) was set up by 22 year old ex-Welsh Rhythmic Gymnast Olivia Davies in 2016 who now weekly trains 50 members.OSORG has also been recognised within the local community and was a finalist at the recent Sporting Hero Awards.

Natalie Salter Dance School based in Pontardawe were really excited to perform their Polar Express themed performance, and with over 19 years of teaching experience, Natalie offers her students many different dance styles which were showcased in this uber festive performance that showcased the range of ages of her students.

Providing something a little more exotic to the Production were the Rabiah Belly Dancers whom have been established for the past 18 months. Classes are run weekly in Plasmal for beginners and intermediate levels and their rendition on Jingle Bells by 7 members of their group gave an Eastern feel to the performance and filled the show with an eclectic mix

The Joan Williams Stage School was next on stage to give their hilarious take on “The Grinch (who stole Christmas)”. These costumes (and incredible hair styles) definitely had the Wow factor and the students clearly seemed to be enjoying their time on stage. Joan Williams Stage School is a family-run stage school based in the heart of Swansea city centre which has gone from strength to strength to become a home from home to generations of pupils from the age of three right through to adulthood and even retirement. Rachel Smith (Joan’s daughter) said “We’re thrilled with how it all went and so are all of our parents, it was definitely worth all the extra effort for sure!

No Christmas show would be complete without its very own choir and Adran Lwyth y Llan from Ysgol Cymraeg Llangennech gave a beautiful performance showing off the choir’s Christmas repertoire. Lewis Richards the Musical Director of the choir conducted the pupils with ease and the choral numbers were well applauded by the audience.

The dancers from the Raie Copp Academy also took to the stage with a very traditional take on Christmas. The routines were excellently executed to the Nutcracker music and the performance featured stunning costumes to match. This Academy is currently ranked 3rd place in the whole of the UK for dance and has won many more titles. Dance Principal Melanie Sullivan said “We’d been looking forward to this show for ages and it didn’t disappoint, it was the perfect Christmas finale to say Merry Christmas to all our dancers and parents after our busy year.”

The talent came thick and fast at this showcase, with the focus on the youth of South Wales and the sensational talent we have within our local areas. Soloists included 15 year old dancer Luke Evans, who recently qualified to compete as a soloist in the United Dance Organisation Europeans and World  Championships. His team also qualified for the World of Dance finals which is to be held in California in 2018.

Singers 15 year old Jaimee Ivett Fraser who has a real passion for singing and Bridgend College student Caitlin Taylor also joined the stage to showcase their spectacular vocals. Caitlin has been performing since she was 5 years old and is hoping to work within the Entertainment industry when she graduates. Both Soloists gave superb performances as well as offered their lead vocals on the finale “All I want for Christmas is You” which featured the whole UP NEXT Christmas Cast.

The talent didn’t stop there as MODE (Makers of Dance Energy) have a breath taking performance with their take on the story of A Christmas Carol and offered a performance based on Scrooge the Musical complete with chains and intricate choreography. The school which now has 330 students is run by Sarah Gittins and Natalie Sabido who said “We have LOVED being a part of this fantastic production”

Some schools such as the LJC Academy travelled from Cardiff just to be part of this spectacular… Lisa Clark, Head of the School that offers dance and drama classes spoke highly of the Event “Thank you t for making us so welcome, and for giving my students this fabulous opportunity we enjoyed your show so much…. hope we can work again with you” Students from LJC Academy who are professionally trained for dance examinations” dance shows ” pantomimes and competitions gave performances of 3 routines including the beautiful “Hallelujah” by singer Lisa Allen and accompanied by the talented dancers from the school.

“It was a brilliant weekend” added Mark Jermin whose creative team helped put together the event, “and even better by the generosity of both the students for their time and the audiences in supporting them and Maggie’s… Swansea Christmas Spirit at its best, long may it continue into 2018!”

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February 14, 2018
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