Young performers are ‘outstanding’ declare festival judges

The Belfast School of Performing Arts (BSPA) have done it again. Northern Ireland’s leading theatre school has won the ‘Outstanding Production’ award at the MTI (Europe) Junior Theatre festival for the third year running,

Over 1200 young people from 32 schools from across UK, Europe and the USA compete for the coveted award each year but it seems these BSPA students are holding on to the title for yet another year.

Alongside this award, one talented young student from Ballymena, Phoebe Kirk, aged 13, also managed to scoop the award for ‘Outstanding Individual Performance’.

Celebrating its fifth anniversary, the MTI Junior Theatre Festival exists to bring together schools and youth groups from across the UK and Europe for a day of musical theatre mayhem, providing workshops for students and teachers alike, special showcases, guest performances and of course an awards ceremony.

The winners of the Outstanding Production award from Belfast Performing Arts School Performing at the MTI Junior Theatre Festival in Birmingham

The students aged 10-18 from across UK, Europe and the UK descended upon Birmingham’s ICC and enjoyed a packed day celebrating all things musical theatre, and once again, BSPA have showcased the incredible talent Northern Ireland is renowned for.

Tina McVeigh, Managing Director of BSPA, says she is incredibly proud of the students who took part, and all that they have achieved; “This year we took our biggest cast yet to the MTI (Europe) Junior Theatre Festival, a total of 37 young people from across our 8 schools aged 10 -18 years. They have spent the last two months working very hard to prepare a piece for adjudication and three pieces to present on the main stage and all the hard work has once again paid off. They have shown that their commitment, passion and love for musical theatre has secured them this well-deserved award, I couldn’t be prouder!”

BSPA presented a ten-minute production of Shrek Junior which won the hearts and minds of the judges.

Ryan McAuley of MTI (Europe) Junior Theatre Festival said; “Under the inspiring leadership of Tina McVeigh and Peter Corry it has been a joy to see the young people of BSPA achieve excellence throughout the last 5 years of the MTI Junior Theatre Festival. The group’s positivity, ambition and sheer talent have ensured that they have been consistently invited to perform on the main stage. We have been delighted with the outstanding contributions the group have made to the festival, in particular, the emotionally charged and incredibly creative videos for our launch of Matilda the Musical JR. alongside the outstanding live performances of Raise Your Voice. We are hugely grateful to everyone involved and are delighted that the talents of the young people of Northern Ireland are flourishing.”

Pheobe Kirk, 13, from Ballymena, winner of Outstanding Individual Performance at the MTI Junior Theatre Festival in Birmingham

Hot on the heels of last year’s impressive launch of Matilda Jnr, which BSPA showcased on behalf of MTI, they were once again invited to present three pieces from a new Broadway revue which was launched at the event called ‘Raise your Voice’. So not only did the cast put on an award winning spectacle with their Shrek jr performance ,they also wowed the crowds with performances of “ Step in Time” from Mary Poppins featuring Lewis Atcheson, (18 years)from Newtownabbey as Bert and Sarah Kerins,(14 years) from Dunmurry as Mary Poppins, along with a performance of “A Whole new World” from Little Mermaid which was a solo by Meghan McSorley (14 years) from Belfast and “We are much better” from Legally Blonde performed by Rebekah Devlin, (16 years)from Holywood as Elle.

The creative team behind the performance, included Musical Director, Adam Darcy and Choreographer, Oprah Devitt, was led by Peter Corry, Artistic Director at BSPA, he explains the importance of such events for the young students; “Musical Theatre is a phenomenal tool for many young people to express themselves, to learn, to make friends and to develop their confidence as they progress into adulthood.

“Many of our students over the years have gone on to have successful careers on the stage, many have chosen different career paths, but undoubtedly the ability to stand up on a stage and deliver a performance, whether that be singing, acting, dancing or indeed all three, with the support and love of your fellow performers, provides an irreversible belief in yourself that anything can be achieved.

“Our students work hard to create award winning performances and once again they have proved themselves worthy advocates on a European stage.”

BSPA has a total of eight schools across Northern Ireland and each Saturday delivers a programme of acting, singing and dancing to almost 700 students aged 3-18 years.

Each school also puts on an annual show and the students are currently welcoming the return of live performances after a two-year hiatus, Tickets for all school shows can be purchased online at year, the BSPA Summer Projects will see the students enjoy intensive experiences of delivering both “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” for the younger students and “The Producers” for the older students. The Producers will be performed at The Mac, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will be at The Theatre at the mill, both promise to be energetic, fun and of course professional. For more information visit or www.theatreatthemill.comTo find out more about either joining the Belfast School of Performing Arts visit

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