‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’ in the Newstart Theatre!

A group of people including two in wheelchairs, singing and dancing.

A celebration event took place in Portland Charity’s brand-new state-of-the-art theatre last Friday featuring performances from West End star and Olivier Award winner, Leanne Jones and young disabled people from Nottinghamshire.

The Charity’s vision was to transform our Newstart Hall from the tired 1950’s recreation hall into the region’s Centre of Excellence for Health and Well-being for people with disabilities. The innovative project was made possible following a huge fundraising campaign which generated £1.2million in donations and grants, matched by £500,000 investment from the College.

The college was able to invite their very generous supporters to the celebration event to see the theatre in action. Hosted by Portland’s Principal and CEO, Mark Dale, the event featured a number of performances from the college’s Performing Arts learners, ex-college learner, Jess Fisher representing Inspire Youth Arts’ Able Orchestra, and Ryan McDade who duetted with musical theatre star Leanne Jones.

Leanne and Ryan perform ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’

Portland Resident and college ambassador, Ryan McDade invited his friend Leanne to perform at the event and the pair were interviewed by former East Midlands Today news presenter, Quentin Rayner. The interview highlighted the need and importance for accessible theatre spaces such as the Newstart Theatre.

Ryan McDade and Leanne Jones interviewed by Quentin Rayner

Mark Dale commented, “The Newstart Theatre Celebration Event was the perfect way to thank our many generous supporters and showcase our vision for the new Theatre. We were privileged to be able to welcome Leanne Jones and Quentin Rayner to the stage and are very proud of our young people who delivered inspirational performances at the event. A wonderful time was had by all involved.”

Newstart Theatre is now a hive of activities, events and education programmes for not only our own learners, but local groups and our wider communities. Available for hire, the space can transform quickly from an accessible, ultra-modern theatre into a contemporary sports hall with retractable seating and LED floor lighting, enabling users to choose different sport layouts at the click of a button.

Newstart hall and theatre is open for bookings during the evenings and weekends for sports and performance groups, competitions, theatre or musical productions, dance or exercise groups, conferences and much more. For more information, contact our Newstart Programme Coordinators on 01623 499111 or email newstart@portland.ac.uk.

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