Youth theatre is thriving in the Horowhenua region, and that's thanks to performing arts groups like H.Y.P.E theatre.
Group founder Linda Buckley is passionate about sharing the love of the stage with young people and making it accessible to all by keeping costs low, with a membership fee of only $20 per year.
Under the umbrella of Levin Little Theatre, Buckley started H.Y.P.E theatre in June 2015 – offering junior and senior class options two times a week.
"We aim to put on one full-scale performance in Term 3 each year, so the kids get a chance to showcase what they've been learning," Buckley said.
The group caters for children aged 7 to 17 who want to have a go at developing the stage triple threat of dancing, singing and acting.
There is also an opportunity for students to learn the production side of theatre as well, such as operating the sound and lighting and being backstage crew.
"We want them to have a chance to try every aspect of stagecraft," Buckley said, "including stage etiquette and the importance of team-work during productions."
H.Y.P.E theatre's latest production, Beauty & the Beast Junior, was less than two weeks out from opening when the country went into level 4 lockdown in August this year.
Buckley ran Zoom rehearsals throughout lockdown which she said was an interesting experience "...but really we just wanted to keep that social connection between everyone ...keep them motivated..."
When the team got back into face-to-face rehearsals at level 2, Buckley said it was hard for many to be 100 per cent enthusiastic, but once a new opening date was set, the enthusiasm came back with a hiss and a roar.
As the interest in H.Y.P.E theatre grew over the years, Buckley was joined by Faith Watters, mum of one of the original students, to help tutor.
Buckley has been getting so many phone calls from the parents of prospective students lately, that she and Watters have decided to add a third class to the schedule for 2022.
"We love to share our passion for the stage [with the students] … help them grow … give them the confidence to venture into productions with school and other theatres," Buckley explained.
• Beauty & the Beast Junior opens at Levin Little Theatre this Friday October 8 at 7pm. The season is over two weekends only so you need to book your tickets quickly to make sure you don't miss out: www.trybooking.co.nz/HTI