Scottish Opera and Disney Musicals in Schools are collaborating for the first time to give five primary schools in Scotland the opportunity to learn and produce their own Disney KIDS musical including The Lion King KIDS, Aladdin KIDS and The Jungle Book KIDS. The pupils will then perform two special shows in their schools and at Theatre Royal Glasgow. 

Following a selection process by Scottish Opera, the schools initially chosen to take part in the free, three-year Disney Musicals in Schools programme are Lawthorn Primary School in Irvine, Todholm Primary School in Paisley, East Plean Primary School in Stirling, Langlee Primary School in Galashiels and St Anthony’s Primary School in Johnstone. This is the first time the programme has taken place in Scotland, and five new schools will be chosen to take part in 2020, and another five the year after.  

This collaboration between Scottish Opera and Disney Musicals in Schools coincides with the return of Disney’s The Lion King, which is set to open its run at the Edinburgh Playhouse in December. 

The Primary 7 pupils from the five selected schools this month start working with two music and drama artists from Scottish Opera’s Outreach and Education Department, who will run step-by-step workshops covering every aspect of casting, rehearsing, staging and performing a 30-minute long version of one of Disney’s musicals. 

Disney Musicals in Schools features Disney KIDS musicals, which are shorter stage adaptions of classic Disney stories written expressly for primary school performers. The programme aims to build skills and confidence in both pupils and teachers, encourage participation and collaboration, and leave a sustainable arts legacy for years to come, especially in schools that are actively seeking greater engagement with the arts.

Over a 17-week period, the Scottish Opera teaching artists guide pupils through music and movement, and work with staff to give them experience in singing, stage directing, choreography and stage management. In addition, there are visits from set and costume design specialists to help staff create the costumes and props required for the performance. The schools are also provided with a Disney Show Kit including scripts, director’s guide, music score, choreography DVD, and rehearsal and accompaniment CDs. 

Disney Musicals in Schools was first launched ten years ago as an outreach initiative designed to develop theatre programmes in New York Elementary Schools, and then in London in 2016

Jane Davidson, Head of Outreach and Education at Scottish Opera said: ‘SOE is delighted to be Disney Musicals in Schools’ very first Scottish partner in the delivery of Year 1 of a three year in-depth, skill building programme for schools. This unique programme is designed not only to introduce teachers to the key elements involved in preparing their pupils to stage one of Disney’s classical musicals but also, through interaction with parents and families, to help establish the role of the arts as a valuable tool in consolidating the school at the heart of the community it serves. Both organisations are firm advocates of the power of the arts to support integrated learning; to enhance attainment levels and to build a child’s capacity to achieve their potential and we hope that access to the extensive learning and teaching resources we have to offer, will help them to support their pupils even more effectively in the future.

Nancy Shakerley, Education and Outreach Manager, Disney Theatrical Productions commented: ‘We are delighted to join forces with Scottish Opera to bring Disney Musicals in Schools to Scotland. Creativity is at the heart of everything we do, and we are committed to helping young people, their teachers and their schools access the arts. Schools play a vital role in igniting the spark of creativity in their young people and it is our aim that initiatives like Disney Musicals in Schools inspire not only the next generation of theatregoers but theatre makers on and off stage.’ 

Jacqueline McBurnie, Head Teacher at St Anthony’s Primary School in Johnstone added: We are delighted to be part of this exciting project. It will allow our children to have an experience that would have been beyond their wildest dreams. What makes it even more fantastic is that it will be happening at a time when the school will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. What a way to celebrate as a community!’