A celebrity couple living in Lincoln have big plans on the horizon after expanding their local theatre school and moving to a three-storey former city ballroom building.
Former CBeebies presenter Sarah-Jane Honeywell and her actor husband Ayden Callaghan, best known for his roles in Hollyoaks and Emmerdale, leased the former Montana ballroom on Clasketgate in April this year as their Curious Theatre School continues to grow.
They moved into the new premises on April 1 after having previously been based in Bailgate Methodist church hall and Wolsey’s Rest on Grantham Street in Lincoln. The theatre school, which now has just over 90 students, was proving so popular the couple needed to find a bigger premises.
It is now called The Curious Theatre School at The Montana Ballroom as the couple wanted to “re-stablish the Montana name and reposition it in the community as an artistic space”.
The building was last used as a ballroom in the 1950s and has also been various restaurants and an amusement arcade since then. In September 2020, former occupiers – Chinese restaurant Shoo Cuisine – said it had to close for good due to “rising costs and uncertain times” and the impact of the coronavirus lockdown.
The former ballroom is still owned by the grandson of the man who built it, who Sarah and Ayden have leased it from.
The three-storey building has around 20 rooms, of which nine are currently in use and there are already plans for the others in the coming months. The biggest dance studio is located where the main ballroom used to be located.
Several rooms which formerly housed karaoke booths will be turned into audition and dance studios, as well as a chill out room for the students. The old kitchen will be turned into a dressing room or another dance studio, and there are plans to turn some of the upstairs into office space for local charities.
The third floor includes a student common room and an area that will be turned into the John Partridge Studio, which is named after the actor best known for the role of Christian Clarke in Eastenders.
There is also an original stage hidden and boxed in behind the bar, which the celebrity couple want to bring back into use in the future.
The Curious Theatre School founder Sarah, who also presents an 80s/90s show on BBC Radio Lincolnshire every Sunday, told The Lincolnite: “It is really important to get a bigger space to do more classes and expand the school and lease out studio space.
“It’s really exciting, we moved in, prepped for our big show and are now settling in. All the parents have been so supportive.
“We want it to be a community theatre school accessible to everyone no matter what their ability or financial status.”
The Curious Theatre School is currently recruiting for new singing and drama teachers.
And there are still places for new students to book with prices ranging from £5 an hour for dance to £20 for three hours of musical theatre. For more information about the theatre and the various classes available email [email protected].
It has been a very successful year for The Curious Theatre School so far as, along with the new premises, the students performed their first ever show, Wonderland, at the LPAC in April, which Sarah said was “really special”.
The Curious Theatre School also does scholarships, with Michelle Blair Management looking after the students in terms of sending off audition tapes and trying to find them work.
One of the students – 16-year-old Harry Brook from Sleaford – featured in a Lidl commercial which was released on Mother’s Day this year.
The theatre school’s co-owner Ayden reiterated the importance of the theatre school becoming a community hub, to help local talent thrive in what is a very competitive industry.