Hurst Childrens Theatre Group
Testimonials from Parents Pt 1
Once again we came away from the HCTG panto yesterday evening,Saturday , thoroughly uplifted by the enthusiasm ,energy & enjoyment that came across the footlights from those amazing children-large & very small!
It was a wonderful evening & although the children were the stars, none of it could have happened without all of you with your various superb talents for encouraging their performance gifts. Anon
The show on Friday was really fresh, hilarious and brimming with the usual feel good factor for all who were watching. Bravo! Our girl refused point blank to sing the song at home and downplayed the whole thing. We were so shocked but incredibly proud to see her in the spotlight, with a really confident stage presence. You truly are a magician! We are absolutely in awe of what you have achieved! Sally G
As a new parent to Hurst I wasn’t sure what to expect on show night and was quite simply blown away by the tremendous energy and enthusiasm the children put into their performances. They were fantastic and it was a joy to watch! I can’t imagine how you put all that together and manage to inspire so many children of different ages and personalities to get up on stage and perform so brilliantly, but it was great! Vikki H
Jonas, Ruth, Sofia and Team – well done again on producing yet another amazing production; thank you so much for all your hard work, the show was amazing. We don’t know how you do it and are in complete awe!
Please put mine down for next term, they wouldn’t miss it for the world. Laura
Thank you to you and all the team for all your hard work we really do appreciate it!! Sue J
Thanks so much for all the hard work that went into making such a great panto. We really enjoyed watching the children and H was on an absolute high afterwards , and just wanted to ‘do it all over again’. Sophie B
You truly are an inspiration to us all!! They had a once in a lifetime experience, and on balance a more valuable one than anything they could have learnt at school. We will cherish the memory of that show FOREVER! They are all still buzzing!
Wow … yet another blockbuster production! Lucy B
She absolutely loves your drama classes, the friends she’s made and she’s always on a complete high during show week….
You and your team do an amazing job and I can clearly see that being part of your courses and production has given the children more confidence and invaluable life skills. JM
By Melanie Dakin for The Review
Managing a large theatre group is certainly in the blood for the Hurst family. Jonas Hurst, who runs The Hurst Children’s Theatre Group in Harpenden which is currently in rehearsals for Aladdin.
Jonas is a third generation theatrical producer and with more than 250 children attending, his group is among the largest independent youth drama club in the area.
Jonas’ grandmother started theatre schools in London 60 years ago and his father Mike, a music producer, established a theatre school in Henley, which is now run by one of Jonas’ five siblings, who all run theatre groups and started out in the family theatre school.
Jonas, who represented Great Britain at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest and was one of the Mini Pops when he was seven years old, recalls having the likes of Marc Bolan over for tea and Shakin’ Stevens coming to dinner but for him, the experience he got as a young child treading the boards was just as valuable.
“We all got a lot out of it,” says Jonas. “Now the really rewarding thing is watching others come through our classes. It’s great for improving self-confidence.”
Since the group has so many members, the cast is broken down into the core players and several groups of 20 to play the chorus on different nights. Jonas tells me even the youngest aged from three to six have an important part to play.
“The tiny ones play the Weenie Genies, genies in training, who help the fairy. They’re kind of like my get out of jail free card; the audience just erupt into applause when they see them.”
Older children get to play Launderettes working in Widow Twankey’s laundry and others get to try out their martial arts skills as the bodyguards, the Kung Fueys.
Aladdin (played in turn by Zoe Coxon and Ellie Felton) is sent to find the lamp of everlasting power by the wicked Fu Manchu (played by Becca Wilkins and Laura Wright) and meets the Genie of the Lamp (Jake Creighton) in this show which features lots of audience participation and catchy songs such as Happy Talk and Chinese Laundry Blues.
Mike has penned the script and Jonas tells me his dad has kept his hand in over the years writing more than 30 shows that are “packed with Blackadder style humour and fun for all the family”.
Testimonials from Parents Pt 2
“Well….you wove your magic again for another brilliant show!
My two had a ball – they really loved both watching and being in the show.
You and Ruth continue to astound us with your energy and positive influence on the kids. Alison F
Once again – thanks very much – you really are giving them memories that will live with them for a lifetime!” Ann
“We can’t thank you enough for what you inspire in them”. Sally S
“Thank you so much for your patience and all the work that went into the shows -which all our family felt to be a great community event” Rachel
“Thank you so much for being such an inspiration to our son. He absolutely loved his first stage show and can’t wait for the next one. You and your team do an amazing job and I can clearly see that being part of your courses and production has given the children more confidence and invaluable life skills” Sam
“Jonas and his helpers and the entire theatre group had clearly worked so hard towards making the show a success, and the results of their efforts were up there on the stage for all of us to see. If any parent was looking for a theatre group in Harpenden for their children to join where they can learn about the art of “Theatre”, be treated as individuals and encouraged to have lots of fun and laughter then this is the place for them to go!” Liz A
“The costumes and the scenery were amazing and what is especially apparent is the childrens’ enjoyment throughout. Just incredible that you manage to get this all together in such a short space of time.” Ali J
By Debbie Bigg for ‘Harpenden News’
Last night, my six year-old son, Alfie, and I went along to Harpenden Public Halls for the opening show of Aladdin performed by The Hurst Theatre Children’s Group.
Jonas Hurst, who runs the group and who co-wrote and directed the show, pre-warned us that being the first performance, and indeed the first full run through, it might be a little less than slick. Undeterred we sat back in our seats amidst the audience largely made up of parents, grandparents, siblings and friends of the young starlets on stage.
Engaged by the young performers from curtain up, we laughed at the jokes and giggled at the slapstick comedy elements. We aaahed when the ‘Weenie Genies’ came on stage – the youngest of them being only three year’s old, and booed the villain Fu Manchu with great gusto, joining in the ongoing joke of ‘bless you’ whenever his name was mentioned.
Yes, there were a few forgotten and fluffed lines but not many when you consider that this group of young people only meet for an hour once a week and have only been rehearsing since November. And from my point of view it only added to the endearing nature of the show. Plus I was really touched by the way the cast pulled together to prompt each other through. A great nod to teamwork.
What we did witness were some very confident performances; lines projected well, beautiful singing voices, fantastic costumes, great scenery and a whole lot of fun. Indeed, there was a sense of great enjoyment throughout, which filtered from the stage, to the audience and even out to front-of-house.
At one stage Alfie was giggling so much, he was drawing attention away from the stage. His review: “a bit scary, funny, and someone was in the wrong show,” his reference being to Prince Charming, who kept popping up on stage in search of Cinderella.
In true panto style, the Hurst’s managed to treat the grown-ups to some good adult jokes, and in turn the children had their fair share of funnies to chortle at. Widow Twanky, in a two-foot tall wig, provided great comic entertainment, as did the camp Genie of the lamp. Aladdin at only 12 did a marvellous job. But really it’s hard to single out any one of these competent and committed kids. They all did such a great job and fully deserve the applause that it still ringing in my ears.
Aladdin -by Liz Atkinson (parent)
As a parent of children who have been going to the Hurst Theatre Group since it started 4 years ago (this is my son Tom’s 5th year and my daughter Katie’s 3rd year), I have been asked if I would give a review of their latest show having gone to 3 performances over the 4 days!. So here goes…………..
“Aladdin” came to Harpenden Halls last week with this delightful show from The Hurst Theatre Group, a family run theatre company with local children from Harpenden and the surrounding villages.
The venue was used to such great effect with over 100 youngsters filling the stage from as young at 3 years old to 16 years of age. The logistics must have been a nightmare, but everyone knew their place and with only a few hic-ups (which to be honest with it being only the second time that all the children had been on stage together in one show), this was to be expected, it came together perfectly.
Director Jonas Hurst has the most amazing talent for bringing out the individual character of every single performer on stage, even if they are simply in a chorus line: it is fascinating to see the animation on all the children’s faces and so enjoyable to see each performer go through their paces, especially The Weenie Genies who were the youngest of them all,
Most of the show, I was laughing so much with tears running down my face at some points, It is impossible to single out individuals for praise as this was very much a team effort, however, there were some amazing performances from the older children who had taken the stage every day and must have worked so hard on all their character. I really felt that you could see all the children had tried so hard to please not only their parents, grandparents and friends who where watching in the audience, but Jonas too, who was accompanying them on the piano with the band at the front of the stage.
Jonas and his helpers and the entire theatre group had clearly worked so hard towards making the show a success, and the results of their efforts were up there on the stage for all of us to see. If any parent was looking for a theatre group in Harpenden for their children to join where they can learn about the art of “Theatre”, be treated as individuals and encouraged to have lots of fun and laughter then this is the place for them to go. Well Done again for another enjoyable and hilarious production.
From the Harpenden Directory
Dick Whittington..a great time was had by all
I went to see Dick Whittington presented by The Hurst Children’s Theatre Group with my children in January…we all had a really great afternoon…with lots of laughs. Especially enjoyable were the antics of the little rats (the youngest actors, aged 3 to 6 years) who were absolutely delightful and very amusing.
It was evident that all the children on stage were having fun too, enjoying the acting and being part of a big show. The production was very well thought through and all the cast seemed to have either a
singing or speaking part, so everyone had their moment of fame!
I can’t mention everyone but King Rat played by Zoe Coxon was excellent, very natural and showed an obvious love for the stage, Idle Jack was entertaining and funny, Helen Gibson played a frighteningly good Quazi-modo and Jake Creighton as Alderman FitzWarren was a very believable aristocrat!
I also liked Billy Tolhurst’s ’Les Dawson’ style ’Damie Oliver’ who was played with real oomph, a proper west end panto-style act, he was great!
There were even guest appearances from Jordan and Peter Andre…the show had everything to entertain the family.
Watch out for their next production in July. Wendy Robertson
Quotes from the audience of The Beat Goes On and On
“what amazing music! there’s a couple there that could be hit records!”(from a real music exec)
“the HCTG productions just get better and better. I know we say it everytime but seriously, you’ve done it again!”
“such a funny evening, so colourful, the costumes were fab”
“what a talented group of children and it’s so lovely to see them all having so much fun”
“great show -really took me back. You really captured the time and music”
“best one yet”
“i cried with laughter, all the way through”