Where it all began...
The Viva Youth Theatre, now in its 16th year, was the catalyst for the whole Viva Arts and Community Group. It is the brainchild of Dan Schumann from Soham, back then a 16-year-old drama student who went on to study at The Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
Having been inspired by theatre himself Dan felt there was the need for more opportunities for people to take part in the arts, regardless of their situation, abilities or circumstances – and so started Viva to give more people that chance.
From a small production of ‘Bugsy Malone’, staged in Soham Village College back in 1997, with a cast and crew of just 50, Viva has grown now tackling huge productions such as ‘The Sound of Music’, performed in 2013 in the Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral to an audience of hundreds. In 2014 Viva took on its most ambitious project yet in 'The Phantom of the Opera' where the cast performed to an audience of over 1000, transforming The Brook in Soham into the famous Opera House. Further to this, Viva once again performed 'Les Miserables' transforming a local venue into the West End for the local community to enjoy.
The Viva Youth Group were lucky enough to perform ‘Fame’ in 2012 at the Playgroup Theatre in New York City! Yes the BIG APPLE! The group worked with professional choreographers, voice and acting coaches to help polish and shape the musical before taking to the broadway stage! Viva is always finding new ways to push their members and flying to New York City was a once in a life time opportunity that could not be missed!
The Youth Theatre welcomes young people from age 11 to 25 from Soham and the surrounding area. Theatre experience is not necessary, just commitment and drive to put on a great show. It aims to encourage young people in all areas of theatre – not just on stage but in set and costume design, lighting and sound, choreography and direction.
Viva usually auditions for two or three productions a year.
The show open to the entire youth theatre age range is generally staged in March. Past shows have included: ‘Oliver’, ‘The Phantom of the Operal’, ‘Barnum’, ‘Calamity Jane’, 'Les Miserables' and ‘Thoroughly Modern Milly’.
In July, depending on volunteers for the production team, the Viva Youth Theatre stages a junior show aimed at garnering the talent of younger members aged 11 to 16. Former productions include: ‘Annie’, ‘The Wiz’, 'Grease', 'High School Musical' and Disney’s ‘Aladdin’. Youth Theatre members aged 16 and over have also taken seven productions including ‘Fame’ (2005), ‘Blood Brothers’ (2007), ‘Godspell’ (2010) and 'Footloose' (2013) to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – to much critical acclaim.
Students of the youth theatre have been lucky enough to benefit from training and master classes from some of the West End’s finest actors, directors and choreographers so it’s no surprise a Viva Youth Theatre Show is a show of the highest quality.
Find out more about the history of the Viva Theatre Company