Page 1


• • • •



FOOD: • • •


FOLK: • • • • • •



PAGE 13.

PAGE 30.



Your Centrestage | 02.

We’ve added #payitforward to When taking a paper copy, we would appreciate any #payitforward donation that you can give. This will go straight back into supporting our projects across Centrestage!

Your Centrestage | 03.

OOPS, WE’VE DONE IT AGAIN! Our live music nights at Centrestage are always popular

“I have no idea how the performers weren’t out of

but “Millennials” took these nights to another level, led

breath!” Audience member Karen told us, “What an

by musical directors Matt Allison and Cameron Hill,

absolutely incredible performance!”

supported by an outstanding team of performers, musicians and technicians.

Our chefs outdid themselves with their specially created menu including the Busted Burger and MacFly & Cheese

The cabaret featured music from the ‘90s to the present

and our wonderful Front of House team excelled

day and the audience was on their feet from the very

themselves keeping the “Text the Bar” orders flowing!

start, when our performers entered through the auditorium to “Lose Yourself” accompanied by an incredible light show. “I Gotta Feeling” set the tone for

the entire night, with our singers bringing out the very best guilty pleasures from Britney Spears, Wheatus and Busted alongside classic modern anthems from Blink 182 and Biffy Clyro.

Your Centrestage | 04.

The final encore of Year 3000 into Mr Brightside had the entire audience on their feet and we cannot wait for the first live music night of 2019! If Millennials proved anything tonight, it’s that our

performers and their audience can certainly rock The Sound Of The Underground!


There was certainly plenty of magic to be had as the CS

Watch this space for the announcement of their next

Performers took to the stage to entertain us with the first

summer production, to follow last year’s unforgettable

Winter Season cabaret performance of the year!

“Singin In The Rain”.

From the classic “I Know Him So Well” to “Ex Wives” from Six, there were performances for everyone to enjoy! The opening number, “Magic To Do” from Pippin,

revealed the performers to the audience by way of a dramatic kabuki curtain drop, and this set the tone for the night with the performers taking the audience on an emotional and powerful musical journey. As with every performance at Centrestage, every performer was featured, with the powerful and dance filled “We Will Rock You” and “Greatest Showman” sets contrasting with the more reflective and emotional songs. Of this cabaret, Nicola said; “It always amazes me how well thought out a Centrestage show is, the sheer talent of these performers should be recognised.”

Your Centrestage | 05.

IT’S ALL ABOUT COLOUR THIS SEASON! ENTERPRISE AT LADIES DAY The sewing machines at Enterprise have barely stopped over the last few months. In September we made 100 organic cotton gift bags for guests at the fabulous fundraising Ladies Lunch and Catalyst have to take the

credit for this, as a team of eight men and women worked together to measure, cut and sew the individual parts together to create a high-quality product. They also screen printed the bags before pressing, tagging and packing them ready for delivery. Their developing confidence with the machines, and their co-operation as they worked as a team was wonderful to see. We had lots of laughs along the way and we’re very proud of what they achieved.

The ladies who attended the fundraising lunch were delighted to receive their unexpected gift. Since then we have been busy sewing costumes for Grease and aprons for the EAT project.

Volunteer Michelle Nicholson also gave up a lot of her time to support this endeavor and is a key member of the sewing team at Enterprise. “I really enjoy volunteering at Centrestage” said Michelle, “and I’m committed to continue helping with future projects.”

Your Centrestage | 06.

Enquiries to nina.russell@centrestagemt.org.uk 01563 551505 ext 219 | 07902566827

Look out for our next issue featuring a full write up and photos from our first show of 2019! #youryear #funfoodfolk Your Centrestage | 07.


A highlight of every week at Centrestage is our Friday

performance of “This Is Me” again led by Kirsty which had

night rehearsal of the Gospel & Soul Choir when singers

the audience on their feet.

aged 5yrs to grown-ups all come together in the auditorium to sing songs that lift the spirits of everyone involved. This latest concert showcased some of our favourite gospel moods, starting with gospel classic “Oh Happy Day”, led by the magnificent voice of gospel leader Kirsty Collins, before our young SPIRIT voices led the choir in

“Happy” joined by gospel member Richard Ross, who added his own special brand of humour to the performance! The choir then took us on a journey of reflective favourites including “You Raise Me Up” before a set of country gospel songs got the audience on its feet for “Something in the Water” and “My Church”. Nina Russell, choir member since 2006, stopped to share her thoughts with us; “The atmosphere was electric. It was great to see new faces in the audience as well as old friends from across the community.” Bringing the first half to its conclusion, both adult and junior performers delivered an incredible powerhouse

Your Centrestage | 08.

The joy of our gospel choir is that gospel means “good news”, and the good news is that they will sing anything that makes them happy! Act 2 was filled with Rock Anthems that were completely enhanced by the wonderful musicianship of our in-house band, Gregor Auld, Ru Quinn, Cammy Hill, Matt Allison and Dave Kerr. We are so fortunate to have so many wonderful musicians across our #oneteam. They, with the skills of our tech and Front of House teams add the magic that makes every performance unforgettable. The Gospel Scots Rock final set had the entire audience on its feet as the two Pauls, Harcourt and Miller; led everyone in “Shangalang” before the choir joined the audience for a mass singalong with “500 Miles”. Only at Centrestage…


This year Connect, for the first time, hosted two camping


trips for the Duke of Edinburgh Award. We had four

expedition skills.

determined learners who went on from their training camp in Arran to the Qualifying Trip in Isle of Bute.


dedication in



They have much to be proud of. We hope they have not only enjoyed this experience, but also found a new love

The trip was not without its challenges however. Learning

for the gorgeous countryside that we, in Scotland, are

from the previous training, they all worked together as

blessed with.

they made their way through the course set for them. When asked what the highlights were, they all replied that

Well done Dukeys!

they had grown in their personal strengths, learnt how they could support one another and enjoyed sitting together as they stargazed on the final night.

They came to appreciate the skills they learned, which included map reading, tent building and cooking. Out of all they had experienced, the realisation that when times became tough their fellow teammates were there to help them through and drove them all on to the finish. This has been an amazing feat for all who have taken part, paving the way for future learners of Connect. The Duke







Volunteering section for the Connect Dukeys, but we would like to congratulate them all for their sheer

Your Centrestage | 09.

LADIES LUNCH FOR CENTRESTAGE! Sunday 14th October marked the first ever Centrestage

Charlotte, Rosie and Betty left not a dry eye in the house

Ladies Lunch at Lochgreen House Hotel in Troon. With a

as they shared their inspirational stories of the impact that

spectacular coastal landscape and beautiful surrounding

Centrestage projects has had on their lives; and Betty’s

woodland, Lochgreen House Hotel was the perfect

moving rendition of Ae Fond Kiss left not a single dry eye

backdrop to an incredible and inspiring day.

in the house. However, gospel leader Kirsty soon raised

Our host for the day Edward Reid, was the perfect choice and his performance, banter and command of the auction was enjoyed by every single person in attendance. Following a champagne reception and delicious twocourse lunch, CEO Fiona McKenzie and Chair Eleanor McLaren welcomed the ladies and discussed the work of Centrestage as well as the impact that their support would make across the community. Guests then heard from three individuals who told their powerful Centrestage stories.

everyone’s mood as she led everyone in a rousing rendition of “Proud” supported by members of our Gospel Choir who were in the audience but who were surprised and delighted to join her in the performance!

The auction and raffles throughout the day, including original bespoke artwork by John Andrew, singing lessons with Fiona and a 5-star weekend in Prague, resulted in a final total for the day of over £20,000 to help support our work across Ayrshire and beyond. The day ended with performances from a range of Centrestage performers, including SPIRIT and Aspire before a mass performance of Raise Your Voice. Everyone agreed that this was an unforgettable Ladies Lunch and we are already looking forward to planning next year’s


Thank you to everyone involved in making it happen and to Anne Hughes for coordinating the whole day! What a #oneteam!

Your Centrestage | 10.

AN UNLIKELY AFTERNOON IN WITH THE LADS An annual highlight of our calendar is the “afternoon in”

Our younger performers on the day were equally

with our very own Unlikely Lads and their special guests.

entertaining and this afternoon saw our junior gospel

This year was no exception as the lads welcomed

choirs “Shine” and “FIZZ” take to the stage to sing some

performers from across our community, from the Catalyst

beautiful ballads, including “True Colours” and “A Million

Voices and Chicks@6 to younger performers, this time

Dreams”. These young folks meet at Centrestage every

including our Rising Stars and members of both junior

Friday night and they will be featured in the upcoming

gospel choirs, FIZZ and Shine. The whole afternoon was

Gospel & Soul Christmas performance. All young folks

compered by seasoned Centrestage performer, the

aged 5-15yrs are welcome on Friday nights to sing with

fantastic Gerry McCulloch who had the audience in

these choirs!

stitches with his hilarious ad libs in between sets, he also treated us to a few songs himself! The Lads meet every Thursday in Onthank Community Centre and are in great demand, entertaining at venues across Ayrshire. This month alone, they have toured Riccarton, New Farm and Stewarton, unleashing their special mixture of banter, music and dress sense wherever they go. One of the hot topics of conversation is always their ties, and this year’s “afternoon in” saw yet another style statement to add to their wardrobe…this time, cowboy laces and stetsons to accompany their classic country and western medley! Chicks@6 meet every Friday night at 6pm to sing

Thursday’s are always a highlight of the CS week, due in

everything from power ballads to music theatre classics

no small measure to our final performers of the day. Our

and everyone from girls to grannies are welcome! This

junior Aspire company, known as the Rising Stars meet at

time, the Chicks delighted everyone with their renditions

4.45pm every Thursday to sing, dance and laugh and they

of Abba and Carpenters classics before joining the lads in

entertained the audience with some of their favourite

the wartime medley for the big finale.

songs and dances, including “Shotgun” and “Donald

The Catalyst Voices also meet every Thursday to rehearse

Where’s Your Troosers!”

and their appearance with the Lads was the very first time on stage for many of the performers. We are very proud indeed of this group of singers and are looking forward to their next appearance at “A Very Centrestage Christmas”.

Your Centrestage | 11.


It takes courage to tread the boards on stage and

everyone who took part in our very first actors fringe demonstrated it in spades.

Audience member Michelle said, “The whole evening was filled with comedy gold! Particularly the Young Love sketches, their back-and-forth

Our Junior Actors, Young Actors and CS Actors

was hilarious and it felt like you were just sitting in their

companies produced a variety filled evening that had their

living room!”

audience in stitches. From the opening performance of “The Note” showcasing the consequences of passing notes in class until the closing sketch of “Macaroons”, an ode to the nation’s favourite biscuits, no one left without their spirits having been lifted! A recurring sketch throughout the night was Alasdair and

The evening was created by Elaine Convery, who led each company to reach their best potential, from our most experienced performers to our youngest and most timid newbies, appearing for the first time on our stage. Audience member, William told us...

Fiona Greig’s “Young Love” scenes where they played a

“I love all the classic comedy skits so I thoroughly enjoyed

couple discussing the important details of their lives.

the evening, I also loved seeing what new talent our young ones brought to the stage!” Our Actors of all ages love to meet new members and would welcome you anytime! Rehearsal times can be found in the Creative Learning pages at the back of this magazine or you can call reception for further information on 01563 551505.

Your Centrestage | 12.


We’re officially “Hopelessly Devoted” to all things Grease! Over 2 weekends, our 15-21yrs MT Company presented 4 sold out performances, plus an extra open dress rehearsal, to audiences who were absolutely sure that this

show was “the one that they want”! This energetic production was a great way to mark the 40th anniversary of this iconic musical and, in belting out the classics, “Summer Nights”, “Greased Lightning” and “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee” the cast took the

auditorium by storm. During the break the theatre was abuzz with compliments from the audience with Margaret stating; “The entire first half was fantastic, I’ve always loved the film and watching these young people bring it to life was astounding!” As with all Centrestage performances, there were some

Swanson, fresh from his performance as RF Simpson in “Singin’ in the Rain” in June and, following Jonny Griffen’s football accident the week before the production, Musical Director Matt Allison stepped out from behind his keyboard to make an unforgettable cameo appearance as Teen Angel in “Beauty School Dropout”, with Director Stuart Bird covering the keys for the number! What a #oneteam! By the time the T-Birds and Pink Ladies reached the finale of “You’re The One That I Want” and the final megamix, the entire audience was on its feet and they continued to rave about the performance as they left, with Linda saying; “I’m always amazed at how talented the young performers at Centrestage are, and tonight proved just that and more!”

unexpected highlights and this was no exception. We were delighted to have the comedy character of Vince Fontaine played by CS Performers veteran Ronald

Your Centrestage | 13.


Your Centrestage | 15.


So much of what Centrestage delivers in the

Lorraine as he sat on the coffee table in front of

wider community is due to the support of STV

the camera in the show’s final shots!

Appeal and since being invited to work in Ardeer

The event was attended by recipients and

back in 2014, so many incredible things have developed with their support and advice.

We are so grateful that STV funds our Dignified Food Project, which every single week delivers over 4,000 ‘Absolutely Marvellous Meals’ as well as over 4,000 sandwiches and snacks, created

from surplus food destined for landfill. Our “On the Road” #oneteam members Sheena Boyd, Kevin Alexander and Ian Maconochie were thrilled to be invited to attend the Live Show held at STV studios celebrating the results of the appeal in October. They had a wonderful evening meeting the stars and appearing live on TV throughout the show, with Kevin even managing to block the camera’s final view of Your Centrestage | 16.

fundraisers alike and the appeal this year has raised an astounding £2,556,682!

EAT @ NEWMILNS FOOD FESTIVAL In September, our ‘On The Road’ team

entered the super-sized marquee along with thousands more at Jamieson Park for the fabulous annual award-winning Newmilns Food Festival. Kevin Alexander, our very own Centrestage head chef, hit the stage to showcase the surplus food we receive from supermarkets and demonstrate the fantastic meals we are able to prepare with this. Kevin gave a detailed description of our ‘On The Road’ project whilst making a delicious rump of beef dish accompanied with potatoes, mushrooms, carrots and a flavourful rosemary jus. We were all especially delighted when Gary McLean, Scotland’s National Chef, who had

visited Kilmarnock Academy earlier in the year to hear more about our Dignified Food Provision initiative, popped by our stall for a catch up, and even managed a few selfies!

We can’t wait to do it all again next year on the 21st September 2019!

Your Centrestage | 17.


September saw the launch of season 2 of our

This course is going from strength to strength

EAT (Eat and Train) 12 week cooking course.

and we cannot wait to follow the stories of our

Our “On the Road” #oneteam were back in 12

successful candidates, many of whom are

communities delivering EAT with our award-


winning chefs, each week delivering classes


tailored to healthy eating and cooking on a budget to candidates of all ages. This time, the 60 participants were aged 7yrs to 80+yrs and candidates learned the basic cooking skills needed to prepare their own delicious meals, working towards preparing a three-course meal in week 12 for family and friends and receiving a Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate and the Centrestage Basic Cooking Certificate on successful completion. Your Centrestage | 18.





And we’re not stopping there, watch this space…


Your Centrestage | 19.



On Thursday 4th October at the Park Hotel Kilmarnock,

#oneteam at Centrestage and to be part of such a

our CEO Fiona McKenzie was recognised at ‘The Cream

wonderful Ayrshire Community.”

of Ayrshire Awards’ winning the ‘Unsung Hero’ category: sponsored by North, East and South Ayrshire Councils. The annual awards recognise heroes and celebrates success across Ayrshire communities with West Sound & West FM listeners nominating people and organisations across various categories. We all know that Fiona champions opportunities for everyone and over the past twelve years has built an incredible Charity that now welcomes over 2,500 participants per week. On receiving the award Fiona said; “Sincere thanks to everyone who was part of making this happen, I’m so grateful to have such an incredible

Your Centrestage | 20.

Well done to the finalists and winners on the night and thanks to everyone who voted. For all winners and full picture gallery from the celebratory bash, follow the link…



We have a new exciting project here at Centrestage!

reflect on the session. The class are already forming

Dance for Parkinson’s is a very special new dance class

lovely friendships and participants tell us how much they

that brings together Centrestage and Scottish Ballet in

look forward to it every week.

partnership. It has completely captured the hearts of the leaders and volunteers at Centrestage who count themselves very lucky to be involved. Dance for Parkinson’s is held every Wednesday morning in the Centrestage studio from 10.30am till 12pm for people living with Parkinson’s and their carers or support workers. The

class involves relaxing dance-based


specifically designed to help alleviate the symptoms and improve the health and well-being of those living with

Parkinson’s. The blend of relaxing movement and beautiful, evocative

In December the class will be travelling as guests of

music blends to provide a wonderfully relaxing yet

Scottish Ballet to watch the final dress rehearsal of The

energising experience. Many of our participants report


that they find they are able to do tasks that they would usually find difficult a little easier after taking the class.

If you would like further information about how to attend

All participants leave the class feeling peaceful and


happy and spend time together in the Centrestage café afterwards to enjoy complimentary refreshments and

this wonderful new activity, just call reception on 551505







Your Centrestage | 21.

CENTRESTAGE ‘WIN BIG’ AT THE SCOTTISH MENTORING NETWORK AWARDS Our Centrestage team picked up six awards at the Scottish

in them gaining a recognised qualification, in addition to a

Mentoring Network Awards on Tuesday 6th November at

range of new cooking skills. We are seeing many

the prestigious ceremony held in Edinburgh. The annual

participants progress to

awards are designed to acknowledge mentoring projects

volunteering placements after participation. This project is

and individuals that have made a significant impact over


the past year across Scotland. Our Catalyst and Eat &

Communities Fund and enhances our Dignified Food

Train projects and team were awarded the following:

Provision programme, delivered across 13 Ayrshire

Highly Commended Employee: Melanie McLean Commended Mentor: Mich Brooks


STV Children’s Appeal. Dougan,




this year’s event. Both Catalyst and Eat & Train are supporting many people across Ayrshire communities and we look forward to continuing this and making a positive relationship-based

throughcare within HMP Kilmarnock and post liberation for as long as required to break the cycle of reoffending. Our participants can access a full range of support, helping to break the cycle of debt, homelessness, addictions and mental health challenges, whilst being able to participate in a wide range of social, recreational, artistic and creative activity. Reoffending rates at Catalyst for the past year sit at only 8% and we are grateful for the support of The Big Lottery in allowing this vital CS project to run. Our Eat & Train project has been the latest development in our Dignified Food Provision initiative, proving to be a major success across our communities, progressing participants through a 12 week structured course, resulting

Your Centrestage | 22.


been recognised by the Scottish Mentoring Network at

Highly Commended Project: Catalyst project


hard-working, committed team and their projects have

Commended Project: Eat & Train




commented on the Awards, “We’re delighted that our

Highly Commended Mentor: Jim Davis




communities, supported by The Hunter Foundation and


Commended Employee: Craig Ferrell



difference in the process.” For more information about our two winning projects, follow the link…



Our Annual Report is available online


Our 2017/2018 Annual Report is now available to download! Introduction from Fiona McKenzie, Centrestage, CEO; “This year end, more than any other in our 12 year history, marks new beginnings for Centrestage. In 2006 our mission statement for Centrestage was very clear: 'that anyone - regardless of age, ability, background or experience - can gain life changing social benefits through active participation in the arts, particularly music, drama and dance.'

Over a decade later, the 'What Works Scotland' report

described our work as: “Radical inclusiveness, entailing a non-judgmental attitude and ongoing efforts to reach out to excluded groups and individuals. We interpret this as manifestation of “unconditional positive regard" for others which creates a foundation for relationship-building and

reciprocity.” As we move forward, we will continue to promote the power of unconditional positive regard, or love, for making a difference to the lives of the most vulnerable across our community. And we will not just talk about it.

We must do it, with intention, across every aspect of our organisation.”

Read the full report via our website www.centrestagemt.org.uk Your Centrestage | 23.


Your Centrestage | 24.

2018 marks the centenary of the end of World War 1 and to mark this sobering occasion, it was decided to revisit last year’s original dance theatre production of “Shell Shock”. Our Head of Dance Marlisa Ross first presented this production at Centrestage in 2017, but this time we were proud to present it in the atmospheric surroundings of the 1896 Kilmarnock Academy building, in the space that will be known as “The Gathering” after we move our activities to this beautiful venue in 2019. Making the production even more somber was that the story was based around names on the war memorial that

On arrival, guests were asked to convene in the café for

formed the most poignant backdrop to the production.

canapes and a drink of arrival, after which a few of the

No-one that was part of this very special day will ever

performers marched through.

forget any part of it.

Making it even more special was the beautiful Poppyfall created from over 5,000 individually crafted felt poppies, by a team led by Suzi Cooper of our Connect #oneteam. The efforts of our Connect and Catalyst participants have created a breathtaking memorial which will be the centrepiece for Remembrance in this very special space for generations to come. On Sunday 11th November, our Gospel and Soul choir were privileged to sing together then reflect and remember the names on the Academy war memorial before joining the parade to the town memorial opposite the Dick Institute. We are proud and grateful to be part of the future of this place that holds so many memories for so many families. #lestweforget

Your Centrestage | 25.





“Mrs Aitken was my primary school teacher and I have a vivid recollection of her

Learning team after graduating from

watching from above on the minstrel gallery above the main hall shouting

Middlesex University. In my short time

down to me “Elizabeth you have two wooden legs!” I cringed when I

here I have been able to utilise my

remembered that thought all these years later. Five years ago my husband





strengths and work with people who

George was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and he had to take an early retirement.

have taught me new skills.

He needed companionship and support so I retired from the college and our

I have thoroughly enjoyed working in such




environment and meeting a range of interesting people everyday. Not one day is the same! Centrestage have offered me brilliant opportunities to lead and create and everyone has enthusiastically welcomed me to the family!”

lives took a different direction. It was a blessing when Miriam called to say that the Scottish Ballet and Centrestage were in discussions to deliver a weekly dance class in Centrestage, Kilmarnock. My dilemma, I thought that’s great for group members but I had reservations because I knew I couldn’t dance, my teacher told me, but I was going just the once to try it out. What a revelation! A huge thanks to Centrestage staff who are professional, wonderful and lots of fun and Scottish Ballet staff, Miriam, Tiffany and Fee are so graceful, dedicated to giving us a wonderful and funny experience. Their carefully choreographed short vignettes are seasonal and perfectly paced for Parkinson’s sufferers and their carers enabling everyone to get involved. The sessions end with a social café and this is a wonderful way to get to know people and many friendships

are born. A huge thanks to Scottish Ballet and Centrestage for bringing dance into my life, and bringing my smile back!”

IT'S ALL ABOUT OUR FOLK! 'Your Centrestage' takes the opportunity each edition to introduce you to some of the wonderful folk across the charity, from staff and volunteers to our communities that engage with us across all our projects everyday. This months it's all about Orla, Liz, Isla and Kevin... enjoy their stories! Remember if you have a Centrestage story to share, why not get in touch with our team and you could be featured in our Spring 'Your Centrestage'.

Your Centrestage | 26.

CS Stories



“I joined Centrestage at age 6 as someone who

”I oversee production of food at our kitchen in

would refuse to speak to anyone and I was really

Dundonald, responsible for 8 staff and also the logistical

reluctant to join in on classes.

operation in picking up food from all our partners who



It’s crazy to think that over 10 years later I’m still

donate to us.

here singing and dancing away. Gaining my

The main part of my job I enjoy most, is the fact I know

confidence is massively down to the amazing

I’m helping to make a difference to the vulnerable people



in the communities. I love the challenge of using surplus

Centrestage provides and I feel so lucky to have

food and turning it into a nutritious meal that will not only

the opportunity to be part of another young girl or

feed the communities, but also educate them on how they

boy’s journey in some way or another.

can do this for themselves on a very tight budget.

Thank you for letting me dance around like an

A major driving force for me is helping those people out

idiot everyday!”

in the communities that I grew up in and around. My love




for food and cooking has enabled me to gain knowledge that I know will help others and that it can show people that cooking on a budget can be nutritious and exciting at the same time.”

Your Centrestage | 27.

Stuart Bird Head of Creative Learning

Profile for centrestagemt2

Your Centrestage Issue 6  

Your Centrestage Issue 6