Calder Valley Youth Theatre / Calder Valley Juniors have been working with young  people since 1982. Our cast and members have learnt about many of the aspects of musical theatre.

The experience of being part of CVYT / CVJ have enabled many of our them to go into the arts and some have gone into other areas not connected at all with the performing arts.

Some of our past members have written about their time at CVYT and how it has impacted on them as adults.

Katie Allcott

Katie Allcott

I became a member of Calder Valley Youth Theatre in 2002 appearing as a dancer in Guys & Dolls, Wizard of Oz and Calamity Jane. 

I studied dance all the way through secondary school at Calder High before being auditioned and offered a place by the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.  I trained there for four years and graduated in 2011 with a degree in Contemporary Dance Performance majoring in my final year in Dance Artists in Education. 

After completing my degree I was offered a position as a teaching assistant at an international English school in Kuwait. While there in addition to my classroom-based work I established an extracurricular dance programme for students aged from 2 to 15. With this experience I was encouraged to plan, develop and then lead a foundation stage dance curriculum for the school. 

Shortly after, I set off on a six month travelling adventure, which included one month of volunteering in Nepal teaching dance and drama. In addition to the above I have for the last few years worked with the International Theatre Schools Association as an ‘ensemble leader’. This involved creating and leading dance and drama workshops with students from around the world in a variety of venues including the Eden Project and Brussels International middle school. 

Recently I have completed my postgraduate certificate of education at the University of Exeter, specializing in Secondary dance. I also work as Movement Director for Calderdale Theatre School which I have done for many years starting as a student 15 years ago and now teaching others in this challenging role. 

I started teaching at Accrington Academy in 2014, teaching BTEC/ A Level Dance and GCSE Drama and recently became Head of Dance.

I now have been appointed as one of our choreographers at Calder Valley Youth Theatre on ‘The Wiz’ putting all this experience and knowledge I have to very good use with our cast of 30 children.  They are all working really hard developing their dance skills and becoming fitter by the week.

Clara Collett

Clara ColletI was a member of Calder Valley Youth Theatre from the age of 13 – 18. Throughout my time at CVYT I had the privilege of playing major roles such as Madame Thenardier in Les Mis and Anita in West Side Story.

CVYT was a great platform for me to develop my love for musical theatre, my skills in acting, dancing and singing and to learn about the industry. 

I studied Drama and Dance at A level so CVYT went hand in hand with my education as well as it being a social hobby. When I finished my A levels I decided that I wanted a gap year. However I knew that I wanted to further my education in the arts. During my gap year I managed to secure a place on the Community Drama course at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts; a very prestigious and well recognised conservatoire within the industry. 

I believe that being a member of CVYT gave me the confidence and determination to achieve my goals and get into drama school. CVYT is very demanding and requires rehearsals three times a week plus extra around show week. It is very professional and all the participants have to work and train extremely hard to get to the standard that is expected. I learnt a lot about working with other people on and off stage and gained experience in auditioning. Getting into drama school is tough and requires someone with stamina and resilience; something that I developed over the five years of my time as part of CVYT. 

My love for musical theatre was what got me into performing arts and as I got older I decided I wanted to become a facilitator and a director. My ambition was to be the owner of my own performing arts company and getting into LIPA and receiving the training that I did enabled me to set up as Pip Theatre when I graduated. 

I am very passionate about working with young people to develop practical learning through performing arts. I have worked in over 10 schools in the North West and run storytelling workshops in UK festivals such as Deershed Festival. 

I believe that my time at CVYT was the start of my career and gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams. Without CVYT I would not have had half the experience and knowledge about the world of performing arts and musical theatre which I believe put me in good stead to further my education within the industry. 

I am therefore extremely thankful for all the memories I have growing up in Hebden Bridge where the arts is readily available to young people within and outside of school

Otti Gauvain

Otti Gauvain

At the age of 13 was encouraged by some friends at school to join Calder Valley Youth Theatre and I will forever be grateful to them and to the society. 

I left when I was 18 and what a great 5 years I had there. 

I began with West Side Story playing “Rosalia” which was my first role in a show. It amazed me that I was cast in a role at such a young age, and I can only thank the society for giving me the confidence, and believing in me to do it. Other shows I was lucky enough to be involved in were Our House, Sweet Charity, CATS & Grease. 

It’s strange to think that if I hadn’t joined CVYT, I never would have the passion for acting that I have now. It was the best introduction into the industry that I could have had; giving me confidence, friendships and skills that I can take forward with me in life. 

Currently, I don’t work in, or study, acting/musical theatre but I keep myself involved in amateur dramatics in the Halifax area. Had it not been for this amazing society, I don’t think I would have discovered my love for performing. 

So all I can say to all involved at Calder Valley Youth Theatre is thank you! I hope to go back one day and assist with the directing or choreographing of a show and give back to a society that gave me so much.

David Burnip

I first joined CVYT at the age of 8 and spent the next 8 years of my life taking part in all the productions CVYT could offer.  It gave me a solid introduction to the world of musical theatre and opened up so many doors for me from finding out about drama schools, to realising it is possible to make a career out of this industry. 

I’m currently in the West End production of Les Miserables in London, and have spent the last year ‘swinging’ on this show. A ‘swing’ is someone who learns all the male parts in the show and then covers said track when the actor is either Ill or on holiday. It means that you have to know the show inside out, but it also means that you get to play all the roles. 

I owe all of my success so far to Calder Valley Youth Theatre. It gave me the drive to follow a career in something that I had a deep passion for.

Lizzie Bradley

Lizzie Bradley

“I joined CVYT in 2010, performing in ‘Our House’, and then ‘Sweet Charity’ and ‘Cats’. Throughout those three years I saw myself grow in confidence, not only as a performer but as a person. I felt so supported and happy within the group, it felt like one big family! 

I have spent the past three years at Lancaster University studying Theatre, a choice that was most definitely inspired by my involvement with CVYT, as my experiences within the group most definitely confirmed my love for the theatre world. My time with CVYT meant that in my first term of university I had the confidence to audition for Lancaster University Theatre Group. I have now done seven shows with the society, the most recent being ‘Blood Brothers’ playing Mrs Lyons, and was the society’s Vice-President, all of which are experiences which would not have happened without the skills and self-belief I learnt with CVYT.

My favourite theatrical experience at university has to be directing Jim Cartwright’s more surreal play, ‘Bed’. It is after getting involved with backstage work that I realised just how hard the adults of CVYT work to create such a smooth show process for the members. They are superstars and I am amazed at how they manage to keep so calm on show week and coordinate such large-scale shows! I’d like to thank them for all that they do to keep the society running and continuing to inspire young people.

I’m incredibly passionate about how the arts can really help people from all walks of life, which is why I am currently aiming to become a Drama Therapist. However, as everything in life, it is very expensive to train, so I’m planning on working for the next few years to raise the funds and gain more life experience, which is bound to help in the training!

Without CVYT I would not be where I am today; the youth theatre allows children to express themselves and be creative, which crucially plays a huge part in defining who they will grow up to be. I have endless adoration for Calder Valley Youth Theatre and wish it the best of luck for the future.

Lamin Touray and Adam Gill

Lamin Touray

I decided I wanted to be an actor when I was 14 years old and started GCSE drama at Calder High School. That year I saw a wonderful production of ‘Our House’  the Madness musical performed by CVYT and was blown away by the talent.

I had friends in that company and thought I need to be a part of that so a year later I auditioned for their next show ‘Sweet Charity’.  I stayed for 2 years doing and performed in ‘Sweet Charity’ and ‘Cats’.

I knew my time had come to and end and that I needed to move on so I focused my energy on getting into drama school I got into the Manchester School of Acting on a part time acting class. 

I then auditioned at RADA where I got a recall but ended up not going because I wouldn’t have been able to afford the course they recalled me for, so I auditioned at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA north). I got in and got offered a full scholarship to go and train there I am now in my final term of second year and about to go into our professional third year where we just do shows. 

I will forever be grateful of the time I spent at Calder Valley Youth Theatre.  They were great times and I learnt a lot and just had a blast. I am going to do everything I can to make acting my career and I will always remember my days at CVYT”’.

Maddy Yates

All through my teenage years CVYT was such a huge part of my life, and whilst it was hard work, it was the most fun way to spend my weekday evenings and Sunday afternoons. I know that it’s partly made me who I am today.

I don’t work in the performing arts now, (I’m a doctor in Bradford) but I spent five more fun years on stage with the medics’ musical theatre society at university.

I still regularly return to the Calder Valley to see my youngest brother perform with CVYT. Unfortunately it’s his last year now, but that doesn’t mean CVYT won’t stay in our hearts and memories for a very long time.

David Hoyle

Dave Hoyle

I was in Calder Valley Juniors back in the day. I loved it every Friday night going down to Youth House in Hebden Bridge and meeting my mates. I was in ‘Charlie Girl’, ‘Grease’, ‘Joseph’, ‘Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Decade’.

My time spent doing CVJ shows was amazing. It gave me a good education to go on and do adult am-dram. I’ve been in many shows around West Yorkshire and have won a few awards for my portrayal of Mickey in blood brothers. 

Recently I have helped out on a few shows with Calder Valley Youth Theatre doing follow spots for Flashdance and Starlight Express both of which goes to show the immense talent that is in our small corner of the world.

Were you a past member of CVYT or CVJ?

Are you still in the world of musical theatre or have you gone into something completely different?  We would love to hear from you.  

Tell us what you are up to now!!!