How Maisie’s world suddenly went online

Jewish Telegraph, March 2021

TEENAGER Maisie Cohen’s week was incredibly busy pre-pandemic.
On Mondays, she would have her dance classes. The following day would be her piano lesson. Wednesdays and Thursdays were drama and musical theatre classes, respectively, and at the weekends she would have another drama group and singing lessons.
But when lockdown hit last year, the 15-year-old’s extra-curricular life went online.
At certain points, when lockdown restrictions were lifted, Maisie’s clubs restarted, but for the majority of the time, they have been online.
For the past year, her Interact School of Performing Arts group had been rehearsing Fame to perform for parents, but the decision was finally made to call it off.
Her Aspire Dance showcase will go ahead, but without an audience — instead being filmed for parents to watch on DVD.
The Bolton girl was also a regular theatre-goer, but shows in Manchester and London were cancelled, although she has her fingers crossed that the shows she has booked now will be able to go-ahead — including Hamilton for a third time, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie for a fifth time and a third watch of Six!.
Her mother Ruth Bradbury and father Mike Cohen had also planned to take her to New York in August to see some Broadway shows, but no one knows whether theatres will have re-opened by then.
“If there are no shows on, then it means we will have an excuse to go to New York again,” Maisie said.
The Turton High School student has been getting her fix of the West End by having online lessons with Everybody’s Talking About Jamie star Layton Williams and a workshop with fellow theatre star Marisha Wallace.
Layton has featured heavily for Maisie in the past year.
As well as the one-on-one dance lessons with him and one of his online workshops, Maisie attended his headline West End Drive-In Brunch concert in London in August, the day after seeing a socially distanced performance of Sleepless at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre.
In addition, Maisie is teaching herself to play the ukulele.
There have been a few bonuses because of the pandemic.
Maisie’s favourite entertainer, Colleen Ballinger, has performed two shows online — meaning the youngster has been able to finally see her ‘live’.

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Mike Cohen

Jewish Telegraph deputy editor and arts editor. Email Mcohen@jewishtelegraph.com with your Jewish arts stories