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By John
East Life
February 5, 2012

Two friends, two great talents and one great school – Tring Park pupils, Kaine Ward (aged 12) and Alfie Manser (aged 10) have proved that friendship and talent can sit side by side, especially when nurtured in a place like Tring Park School for the Performing Arts.

Both boys had no expectations when they auditioned for the renowned West End show Billy Elliot back in February 2010; apart from finding out what a West End audition was like. However, their talent for drama and dance was noticed with Kaine securing the title role of Billy Elliot, at the Victoria Palace Theatre while Alfie was asked by the show’s choreographer to star in The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre in the West End.

Kaine Ward, first started dancing aged 2, when encouraged by his mum, he attended a friend’s local dance school where he performed ballet, tap and modern. His talent was soon noticed and he went on to star in productions of Annie, as Sandy the dog, and in Bugsy Malone as Leroy Smith.

At aged 6, he joined a local drama group where his commitment and passion for drama and dancing continued. By the age of 10, it was obvious that he was destined for greater things and joined specialist dance and performing arts school, Tring Park as a day pupil.

In 2008, he won the School’s Paul Watson bursary, allowing him free evening and weekend dance classes for a year. Within a few weeks, he qualified for the Music and Dance Scheme (MDS) scholarship which allows him to study as a day pupil at the school, a centre of excellence both vocationally and academically.

Then in the Summer of 2011, Kaine got the call which has changed his life forever and propelled him into theatre stardom from the producers of Billy Elliot; asking him to join the cast from November 2011 in the lead role of Billy. As part of the role, Kaine has had to learn a Geordie accent and practice back flips.

Kaine comments, “I couldn’t believe it when we had the call from Billy’s producers inviting me to join the cast. My mum was even more excited than me and burst into tears when we got the news.”

Alfie Manser’s story in some ways parallels that of the character of Billy Elliot. Aged 7, he became obsessed with break-dancing which, in turn, led him to learn how to dance other disciplines such as jazz. However, as his interest and ability grew, his passion started to alienate him at school with his friends teasing him about this dancing to the point when eventually he left school to be home tutored. His mum, realising that it was more than just a hobby for Alfie, decided that he needed to be at a school where he would be supported and surrounded by similar-minded pupils and teachers. In 2009, aged 8, Alfie started at Tring Park as a day pupil in the prep department.

Finding his feet and friends at Tring Park, he soon discovered that a few friends, including Kaine, were going to the Billy Elliot auditions and thought it might be good to see how a West End audition worked so asked if he could accompany them. Encouraged by his friends and family, he ended up auditioning for Billy and although he was too young and small for the role of Billy, Peter Darling, the choreographer, asked him to join the cast of Matilda The Musical as well as invited him to the Billy Elliot summer school.

Alfie plays Nigel, Matilda’s friend, at the Cambridge Theatre in Covent Garden, two evenings a week, while still attending Tring Park.

Alfie comments, “It has been a rollercoaster of a ride so far. I have always loved dancing from break- dancing through to jazz. Getting into Tring Park to study my passion was just amazing and then to be noticed by Peter Darling and to be invited to join the cast of Matilda The Musical is a dream come true. “

Tring Park for Performing Arts’ Principal, Stefan Anderson, comments, “It is fantastic to see such great talent we have here at Tring, recognised by producers in the West End; one of the most vibrant theatrelands in the world. Kaine and Alfie make us proud of all the students we have here and reflect the real hard work, commitment and passion you have to have to succeed in the industry. We are looking forward to seeing them both treading the boards and enjoying a long and successful career within the performing arts.”

Tring Park for the Performing Arts School is an independent, co-educational boarding and day school, attended by a maximum of 320 pupils between the ages of 8-19.

• Tring Park offers a unique opportunity for gifted young people to specialise in Dance, Drama, Musical Theatre or Music, while gaining an excellent academic education to GCSE, BTEC and ‘A’ level.

• Housed in a former Rothschild mansion and set in beautiful grounds, the School is located in Tring.

• Figures from the Department for Schools, Children and Families for the summer exams 2010 demonstrate that the school provides an “added value” for pupils’ performance that is in the top 25% in the country.

Matilda The Musical is booking until 21 October 2012. For more information visit or call the box office on 0844 800 1110. For press enquiries about the show contact Chloe Pritchard-Gordon on I 020 7494 3665

© 2012 East Magazine

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