CLASSES start on Saturday at York Stage School, the new theatre school set up by York Stage Musicals artistic director Nik Briggs with musical director Jessica Douglas at 41 Monkgate.

"We had a brilliant half-term workshop project that ran in the John Cooper Studio from May 29 to June 1 for seven to 16 year olds, led by myself and Jessica, where we had 25 children who all created a fantastic musical theatre music video," says Nik.

"It was great working in depth with the future talent of the York Stage community, looking at acting through song, working with them on camera and also in a audio studio recording setting. Lots of fun was had by all and it really was a great start to the new venture, with the video going out on social media."

Nik and Jessica are already a swell team when working in tandem on York Stage Musicals' shows and now they will complement that work with nurturing talent. "Jessica is at present teaching at Ampleforth College but will be leaving there after the summer term to work with me," says the delighted artistic director. "People of all ages love working with her. Jessica is a professional musician with an education background at Ampleforth and that makes her the perfect fit for working alongside me for the music provision for York Stage School."

From Saturday, Nik and Jessica set the first term in motion. "It will run until the school holidays and we'll be running three terms a year, working alongside school terms, usually running for ten to 11 weeks, though the first one will be for six weeks.

"It's not a dance school," stresses Nik. "It's all about acting and theatre and developing confidence in children. We won't be running weekly dance classes though dancing will be part of the shows we do."

North Easterner Nik studied acting at Bretton Hall, near Wakefield, and won a scholarship place at the Royal Academy of Music in London to study musical theatre, graduating in 2009. "I worked in London for a while before settling in York, and after getting involved in York Stage Musicals, I took it over five years ago, with Grease as my first show as artistic director in 2013," he says.

"So, acting and singing will be the key focus of York Stage School, which leads into musical theatre. These will be core classes for children aged up to 16, and there'll also be adult classes for age 16 upwards, maybe for someone wants to continue training, or trained but stopped acting, or maybe someone of 60 who never got the chance to learn but now wants to develop their skills.

"This one-hour class will be ideal for seasoned performers who have never looked at the technique behind what they do; those who were always told acting and performing "wasn't a proper job" and weren't allowed to pursue their dream, or those who have maybe trained in the past but haven't kept it up.

York Press:

Children taking part in the York Stage School half-term workshop project that ran in the John Cooper Studio at 41 Monkgate, York

"These classes one day a week will lean more towards acting, exploring monologues and scene work in small groups, where we'll look at breaking down text, using voice and body to create character."

The two-hour weekly Saturday School for two age groups, seven to 11 and 12 to 16, begin on Saturday morning. "Through exploration of physicality, voice work, text, improvisation and singing technique, the children will develop core performance skills that they will be able to utilise in termly presentations to parents and invited guests," says Nik. "No audition is necessary."

The same aims apply to an early evening Weekday School for seven to 16 year olds that will first meet on June 19 and will be held twice a week for two hours each night in a classroom setting, as with the other classes. The first Adult Acting Class will take place on June 20 from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.

Nik is relishing the opportunity to bring talent to the surface in York. "I'm from Newcastle, I trained in London, but the artistic community of York is so vibrant that it's really exciting to work here, doing things creatively that just don't go on elsewhere," he says.

Professional actors Joanne Theaker and AJ Powell, the York Theatre Royal pantomime star, will be tutoring at York Stage School too, with AJ specialising in choreography.

In the pipeline will be Play In A Week musicals in school holidays and the chance to work with other groups, such as a summer collaboration with Jazz Hands Dance, Jessica Hardcastle's group, at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre from July 23 to 28.

Nik is delighted too to be using the facilities at 41 Monkgate, a theatre building blossoming under Jim Welsman's chairmanship. "I love the vibe at 41 Monkgate, and I'm really looking forward to bringing youth theatre back there," he says.

For more information on joining a class at York Stage School, go to