StageCoach Theatre Arts was founded in the UK in 1988 by Stephanie Manuel and David Sprigg and now operates the largest network of part-time performing arts schools in the world, for young people aged between 4 and 18, with 40,600 students world-wide.
Having spent a number of years in theatre as a performer, writer, director and teacher, Stephanie now as a young mother soon discovered that there was a marked lack of theatre-training opportunities for children. It was finding this gap in the market that prompted her to consider setting up an after-school and weekend theatre school, offering singing, dancing, and acting lessons.
At a chance meeting at a party she met then banker, David Sprigg, who proposed that they go into business. Together, they seemed to cover all the bases required to build a successful business.
In April 1988, Manuel and Sprigg launched the first three StageCoach schools in Richmond, Redhill and Woking in rented rooms. Then as now, the formula was small classes, three-hour sessions, tight discipline and equal attention to drama, dance and music.
By 1993 Manuel and Sprigg were masterminding 24 schools, from a small office in East Molesey. Because the administrative burden was becoming so great, they turned to franchising. The franchising went so well that in 2001, they floated the company on the Alternative Investment Market, raising almost £3 million to expand the business.
StageCoach is the largest performing arts network of its kind in the world, with 600 schools in the UK and Ireland, 20 in the USA and Canada and many more around the world. Building on this success the organization has branched out, establishing StageCoach.TV, SportsCoach and StageCoach Teacher Training, as well as regional choirs, dance troupes and Interact - part of the StageCoach Charitable Trust, which offers free weekly workshops to disadvantaged children.
As well as proudly appearing at Her Majesty's Theatre in London's West End three times a year, StageCoach annually produces a big musical theatre showcase, with kids aged 8 - 18 coming from StageCoach schools all over the world. StageCoach continues to grow internationally, with the first South African school opening in April 2011 and 4 new Canadian schools opening in Fall 2011.
StageCoach Awards recognises inspirational children in their first Awards ceremony
StageCoach Launches StageCoach.TV
On Saturday 6 December 2008 at 4.15pm GMT, StageCoach schools created a new World record with 500+ performances of a modern myth "Glad Rags", written to celebrate StageCoach's 20th anniversary performed at StageCoach schools in the UK, Ireland, Germany and the USA.
StageCoach Celebrates its 20th Anniversary
More than 40,000 students worldwide
StageCoach on-line Shop opened
StageCoach opened in Canada (Vancouver)
First Foundation Course in the Teaching of Performing Arts for Children
First two franchises opened in Germany
First three franchises opened in USA
StageCoach floated on the UK Stock Exchange (AIM market)
First SportsCoach school opened in Esher
StageCoach opened in Australia (Perth)
First InterAct workshop opened in Walton on Thames
StageCoach opened in Germany (Nurenberg)
StageCoach opened in Spain (Costa del Sol)
StageCoach opened in Malta
StageCoach opened in USA (Minneapolis)
First Early Stages Class opened in Derby
StageCoach opened in Ireland (Dublin)
StageCoach Montessori School Opened
First three franchises opened in Guildford, Kensington and Beckenham
First Joint Venture Partner opened in Peterborough
First three StageCoach schools opened in Surrey