People come from far and wide to the Newcastle Festival, here are some of their stories...



Sophie Henderson, Musical Theatre Solo for the Actor/Singer 12 years and under SD52 (approved)

Sophie Henderson won her Musical Theatre Solo class with a performance of ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from Disney’s Moana.  Sophie attends Madeley High School but is studying her show craft at Pepper Street Performing Arts.

Musical Theatre is Sophie’s favourite of all the activities she is studying with Pepper Street and she finds the adjudicator’s comments really helpful in suggesting where she can improve.  She really enjoyed the festival and will definitely do it again.


Pepper Street Performing Arts Group Musical Theatre Open SD54-1 (approved)

Pepper Street Performing Arts members were the only entrants in their Group Musical Theatre class, but they more than met the high standard to be awarded the Festival Trophy.  Pepper Street Performing Arts is a small company delivering a range of performing arts education and services throughout North Staffordshire for all ages, and has been well-represented in a range of classes at this year’s Festival in the speech, drama and music classes.

Children aged from 6 to 14 performed a medley from Lionel Bart’s ‘Oliver’ that included singing both in unison and harmony, movement and expression.  It was clear from their total involvement in the piece that all them thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the performance.


Olivia and Isaac Hoeksma, Ensembles, Bands and Orchestra Family Class EN150 (approved)

This is the third time in a row that twins Olivia and Isaac Hoeksma have won the family class.  This year Olivia on piano and Isaac on guitar played Danza Paraguaya No.1 by Agustin Barrios to take the trophy.  Both the 11 year olds also entered other classes separately, with Isaac winning his guitar class and Olivia second in her piano class.  They have been playing for five years and find the adjudicators’ comments really helpful.  Playing in the festival helps their confidence grow and grow, so much so that they are now happy to play in front of their whole school, St Joseph’s.


Caroline Jackson, Open Solo Vocal, Challenge Solo, VC165 (approved)

Caroline has been a member of a community choir and an a capella ensemble for some years.  Ever pushing herself out of her comfort zone, Caroline set a personal goal to sing solo in a competitive environment.  She has sung Panis Angelicus with her choir but this was a very different experience to sing it as a solo piece.  Nevertheless she was awarded the Dorothy Jones Memorial Trophy with a distinction grade.  Caroline felt the adjudicator was very balanced in her feedback, giving tips to improve but also inspiring her to carry on with her solo work, which she has every intention of doing.

Maisie Scott and Sophie Plimbley, Piano Duet 11 years and under, PN113

Maisie Scott, aged 11 and Sophie Plimbley, aged 10, have both entered the festival separately in previous years but the girls, who have been best friends since pre-school, also combine forces and talents to play duets together.  They spent around six weeks practising for the piano duet class in this year’s festival.

They played The John B Sails and Can Can by Offenbach.  Awarding them the Frank Morris Trophy, the adjudicator said their playing was very stylish and captured the spirit of the originals.  Currently at Alsager Highfields Primary School, it looks like these friends will carry on sharing a piano stool for some time to come.