Hackney drama and film school celebrates 21 years with 'incredible' showcase

Students of Anna Fiorentini Theatre and Film School perform a song from the show Hadestown

Students of Anna Fiorentini Theatre and Film School perform a song from the show Hadestown - Credit: Steve Gregson

A Hackney drama and film school celebrated its 21st anniversary over the weekend, with special guests including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's Joseph Marcell and BBC star Tahj Miles.

Clapton's Anna Fiorentini Theatre and Film School put on an "incredible show" at Hackney Empire on Saturday (March 19).

The school has provided arts classes for children, aged 7-18, in Hackney for 21 years, helping them develop skills in singing, drama, dance and film.

Anna Fiorentini Performing Arts 21st anniversary showcase

The showcase was put on to celebrate the Hackney school's 21st anniversary - Credit: Steve Gregson

Actor Joseph Marcell on stage at Hackney Empire with founder Anna Fiorentini

Joseph Marcell, from 90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, on stage at Hackney Empire with founder Anna Fiorentini - Credit: Steve Gregson

The celebrations for its 20th anniversary were postponed last year due to the pandemic so an extra special gala was presented this year instead. 

Anna Fiorentini, founder and principal of the school said: "We’ve had a difficult couple of years not knowing if the school would have to close or if we would be able to do live performances again so to finally be able to celebrate 21 years has been really special."

Anna Fiorentini Performing Arts students perform a song from The Lion King 

Anna Fiorentini Performing Arts students perform a song from The Lion King - Credit: Steve Gregson

Actor Joseph Marcell, with Anna Fiorentini students at Hackney Empire

Actor Joseph Marcell, with Anna Fiorentini students at Hackney Empire - Credit: Steve Gregson

The show saw Anna Fiorentini students perform well known West End song and dance numbers. 

They were joined on stage by school alumni, Tahj Miles, who is currently starring in the BBC's Death in Paradise and long-time supporter of the school, Joseph Marcell, who played Geoffrey the butler on 90s sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. 

Students performing a song from Annie

Students performing a song from Annie - Credit: Steve Gregson

A West End number was performed from We Will Rock You

A West End number was performed from We Will Rock You - Credit: Steve Gregson

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Singer-songwriter Kali Claire was also a special guest at the show. 

Supporter of the school, Hackney MP Meg Hillier, was also in attendance. 

She said: "Our young people have been through so much over the last two years and getting back to real life and performance is a huge confidence booster."

Anna Fiorentini Performing Arts

Students performing a song from stage show Hamilton - Credit: Steve Gregson

Students perform a song from Shrek the Musical

Students perform a song from Shrek the Musical - Credit: Steve Gregson

Past students were also present via a pre-made anniversary video.

Alumni include Belinda Owusu, star of BBC’s Holby City and EastEnders, and Jermain Jackman, winner of The Voice UK 2014. 

At the showcase a charity dance organised by Stage & the City, the adult branch of the school, was also performed by 15 adults who had been sponsored to learn a dance routine in five hours and perform it on stage.

Anna Fiorentini Performing Arts 21st anniversary

Fifteen adults performed a Lip Sync Dance Charity number - Credit: Steve Gregson

Money raised will go towards kids with or affected by cancer that wish to attend the school.

To donate, visit https://fiorentinifoundation.enthuse.com/cf/lip-sync-battle

To find out more, visit www.afperformingarts.com/theatre-and-film-school/schools