City pupils share Sunderland stage with hit Kinks musical

Some of those taking part in the Beyond the Band Pit project at the Sunderland Empire with Richard Darbourne (back row centre), producer of the Kinks Musical Sunny Afternoon
Some of those taking part in the Beyond the Band Pit project at the Sunderland Empire with Richard Darbourne (back row centre), producer of the Kinks Musical Sunny Afternoon
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Budding musicians had their moment in the spotlight as part of a project to give youngsters experience in treading the boards.

During the run of Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon at Sunderland Empire, young musicians aged 14 and over from The Bunker, Sunderland College and Red House Academy, were given the chance to take part in a workshop with producer Richard Darbourne.

The Beyond the Band Pit project also saw the Sunderland pupils learn some tricks of the trade from company members of the award-winning musical as they recreated iconic hits including You Really Got Me.

Richard Darbourne, tour producer for Sunny Afternoon, said: “It is a very rewarding part of what we do to share the creative process with young people thinking of embarking on a career in the performing arts. Theatre is all about that connection between performer and audience, it’s about communicating positive energy and working with the stars of tomorrow remains vital in keeping British theatre amongst the very best in the world.”

Funded by Arts Council England, Beyond the Band Pit is a year-long collaborative project between Sunderland Empire’s Creative Learning Department and Sunderland Music Education Hub.

It gives young people from across Sunderland the opportunity to take part in an Arts Award learning programme, whilst also connecting them to the industry through unique insight workshops with visiting production companies at Sunderland Empire.

Hollie Coxon, creative learning manager, Sunderland Empire said: “Over the past year we’ve focused on exploring how we can embed music within our learning programme for both young people and communities. We work closely with our arts partners in exploring interesting ways that participants can connect closer to the amazing musicians, artists and productions which visit Sunderland.

“The workshop from Richard Darbourne and the Sunny Afternoon company is an instrumental means to inspire learning and nurture a passion for a creative career from the local young people on the project.”