GALLERY: Viva celebrates 15th anniversary

Some of the founder members of Viva perform

Some of the founder members of Viva perform - Credit: Archant

HUNDREDS of people packed into the Brook in Soham on Sunday to celebrate the 15th anniversary of The Viva Theatre Group.

Ava and Sir Jim Paice with Dan Schumann

Ava and Sir Jim Paice with Dan Schumann - Credit: Archant

Viva Youth Theatre performing a number

Viva Youth Theatre performing a number - Credit: Archant

Started with a donation of just £50 back in 1997, the group has grown into a multi-award winning company, with countless theatre productions and toured performances under their belts.

To mark its stellar rise, members old and new gathered at the Brook to re-enact some memorable performances from over the years, including shorts from The Sound of Music, Grease, Bouncers and plenty more.

MP for South East Cambridgeshire Sir Jim Paice, who donated £20 to help start up the group, was in attendance along with dozens of others who have both performed or helped the group to flourish.

As well as Viva Youth Theatre, the company also has an adult branch, established in 2007, which is preparing to stage its latest production, Bouncers, from May 15-17.

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In 2008, Viva purchased its own premises, a converted Methodist Chapel in Churchgate Street, where it has continued to run a charity shop that generates funds for the group.

Dan Schumann, one of the founders who remains at the helm today, said: “It was a great night. Seeing old faces and looking at pictures of past events brought back some wonderful memories and made us realise just how far we’ve come in 15 years.”

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Viva Youth Theatre kicked off proceedings with ‘We Could Have Been Anything’ from Bugsy Malone, the first show performed under Dan and co-founder, Jennie Eyres, 15 years ago.

This was followed by numbers from past shows such as ‘Me and My Girl’, ‘Barnum’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Les Miserable’ and culminated in a taster of the young people’s next show, ‘Grease the Musical’, which will be performed in July 2013.

Any donations made at the concert are to be split between the Liam Fairhurst Foundation and the Soham Swimming Pool Partnership, made up of representatives from Soham’s St Andrew’s and Weatheralls Primary Schools.

Messages of support were sent from two long-time Viva presidents who could not be there in person – the actress, Liza Goddard, and actor, Michael Fenton-Stevens. And actress and vice-president, Sheila Steafel, also sent kind words.

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