Littlehampton’s Star Ignited Performance Academy offer Lin-Manuel Miranda musical

Youngsters from Littlehampton’s Star Ignited Performance Academy will be taking to the stage with the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical In the Heights.

Littlehamptons StarIgnitedPerformance Academy
Littlehamptons StarIgnitedPerformance Academy

The story is set over the course of three days in the mostly Hispanic-American neighbourhood of Washington Heights in New York City.

Performances will be from March 5-8 at The Windmill, with tickets available on www.ticketsource.co.uk/star-ignited-performance-academy.

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As Maria Prior – mum to performer Tegan and also a member of the academy’s committee – says: “It is about a group of people who are immigrants in Washington Heights, and it is an aspirational piece. It is about the stories of all these people who have an objective and who want to better themselves in life.”

Bodega owner Usnavi is dating Vanessa, who works in a beauty salon. He dreams of opening a bar in his home country, the Dominican Republic. Nina loves Benny, a shy young man who has worked for Nina’s parents for years, but her father opposes their union because he wants Nina to finish her education at Stanford University. She doesn’t want her father to bankrupt himself paying for the expensive school, but her father is prepared to sell his car-service business…

“It is about these characters, but it is not a traditional musical. You have got hip hop and rapping. It is all very modern, and all our stars are aged between 11 and 16.

“My daughter has been attending the company for about five years, and she has done several productions with them. I am on the committee that oversees the shows.

“There are 19 kids in the show, and they are all students at the academy, all what we call the senior performers. They have very small children there as well, but these are the ones that have been going to Star Ignited Performance Academy for as long as my daughter has, if not longer.

“They are very, very committed, and the quality that they can produce has been fantastic. I have seen lots of amateur productions, but there is something about them that is a little bit special. The kids always give 1,000 per cent at whatever they are doing. They are very loyal, and they just love being part of the show. I have never known anything like it. There is a little bit of magic about it all and that comes down to Stephanie Moorey who is the principal.

“She has got a kindness. She sings and she does perform herself when she is able to, and the kids just love her. She has just got this quality about her that the kids believe in, and they trust her implicitly. It’s a very happy place, and that’s what all the parents say.”

Last year they managed to get their production of 13 The Musical to London’s West End: “We as parents went on that journey, and it was just fantastic. We knew nothing about the musical beforehand, and we were just stunned as a group of parents. It was something very special.”

The chance to perform is important.

“I can only speak from my daughter’s point of view, but I think it is echoed throughout the school. They love the story-telling. They just love being part of telling the story to the audience. It is what they love doing. And it is also about showing what they are capable of, and all of them are capable of such great things.”

But Maria accepts that selling the latest show is a challenge: “We have got a four-night run for a musical that not a long of people will have heard of. I know that when it was announced, all the parents were like ‘What’s that?’ But I know it will be fantastic. All the children are so fantastic and so committed and so talented.

“Within the cast of In the Heights we have the winner of Arun Young Musicians 2019, a young man named Nathan Lynch, aged 16.”