STARS of the future can now say they have made their big screen debut after a theatre group reworked its annual show into a cinema experience.

Stagestruck Academy, based in Frinton, usually hosts its two-hour long Work In Progress performance every summer at the Columbine Centre.

The jam-packed extravaganza sees the company’s myriad of performers show off their dance, singing, and theatre skills to proud parents.

This year’s show, however, was dealt a major blow by the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing restrictions, and the closure of arts venues.

Determined not to let the yearly tradition of the show come to an end, Simone Castle, principal of Stagestruck Academy, asked students to still attend rehearsals, but via regular video calls.

The young talents were then given several weeks to each film the routines they would have performed on stage in front of what is usually a packed auditorium.

The footage, which was shot on everything from mobile phones to drone cameras, was then edited together into one flowing, compilation visual.

The impressive end result, produced by Stage To Screen, was screened in two acts at a drive-in cinema in Clacton with the audience watching from their cars.

Simone said: “All those students put their faith in me to try this crazy idea and they worked so hard to create something so special.

“The feeling of pride at the drive-in was beyond expectations.

“Feeling the electric atmosphere, hearing the happy cheers, and seeing the smiling faces of all the Stagestruck students makes me know the hard work over the last few months was so worth it.”

Lola Garlick, 17, from Clacton, is one of the more long-serving performers working with Stagestruck who featured in the film.

She says producing this year’s show was all the more rewarding because of the dedicated effort required to make it happen.

“We started to learn the new show dances over Zoom, which at first was very different,” she said.

“But we all soon thought of it as the new normal.

“As rules started to be lifted, we were able to go and record with others in our class, which was really nice,” she said.

She said: “The screening was an amazing evening, and I say it on behalf of everyone, we are so grateful to all of our teachers and Stage To Screen for making it happen.

“It really will be a memory we will cherish for ever.”