Youth Arts

Aiming to enrich and empower the young people of our community, we offer everything from weekly drama classes through to audition based full productions created for, with and by the youth of our region.

Youth arts participants posing in a group on stage.
Youth arts participants posing in a group on stage.

#A Little bit about us

As Toowoomba's leading Youth Arts provider, we're proud to say we've been empowering young people since 2010! 

With weekly drama classes, holiday workshops, and even an advanced performance program, there's no shortage of opportunities to flex your creative powers. 

If you're a young artist looking to hone your performance skills for stage or camera, or you just want to explore your artistic side in a supportive environment, The Empire Youth Arts is the place to be. 

Join our enthusiastic young artists and make your mark on the vibrant local arts scene.

Enrol For Drama Classes

#Drama classes

Young boy staring off into the distance with young girl looking at the boy curiously from behind.

Toowoomba: Drama One

CHILD

Young boy dancing in forefront with young girl smiling in the background.

Toowoomba: Drama Starter

CHILD

Two youth arts performers reviewing a script together.

Toowoomba: Drama Two

YOUTH

Youth arts performer reading notes from his notebook.

Toowoomba: Drama Plus

YOUTH

Dalby: ~Drama Junior~

Dalby: Drama Junior

CHILD

Senior class members in theater workshop doing improv

Dalby: Drama Senior

YOUTH

~Audition Crash~ Course

Audition Crash Course

YOUTH

#Impact

The Empire Youth Arts runs an advanced performance-making program (IMPACT) which offers young artists a chance to tell their stories with the same level of quality and care as a professional theatre production.

Since 2011, The Empire Youth Arts’ IMPACT Ensembles have been challenging the assumptions made about young people and their crucial role in our changing world and its future.

Entry is based on audition and our ensembles work across each half of the year towards a public performance. Works have previously gone on to tour to metropolitan areas, been published, and staged across the country by other young artists seeking to make their voices heard. Past members have gone on to study the arts at leading tertiary institutions across Australia.

Junior IMPACT 2024 TICKETS
Impact ensemble members positioned in front of a banner for Impact Ensemble.
Young female ensemble member with a concerned expression, mid-performance
Impact ensemble members dancing
Impact member performing while other ensemble members watch on. The performer is a young woman with a fake tail, a bike helmet and a scooter as her props.
The Impact Ensemble gathered around a large sheet being thrown in the air above them.

#Highlights Program

Our Highlights Program offers young people from the region a chance to watch and review shows as guests of The Empire, to build a culture of theatre-going and to stir up conversations about the stories playing out on stage, giving a voice to their generation's perspective.

Want to have one of our Highlighters along to your show at The Empire? Contact us at youtharts@empiretheatre.com.au

The Gospel According to Paul - Josh (14 yrs)

I’d like to start off this review by mentioning the fact that I am only 14 years old, two whole generations below the target audience. So, with that in mind, this review will tell you why I absolutely loved this play.

The Gospel According to Paul is a brilliant one man show that follows the story of the 24th prime minister of Australia, Paul Keating. It stars actor, writer, and comedian Jonathan Biggins, as he describes the world the way Keating saw it.

The show is set inside of Paul’s office and is unlike any show I’ve ever personally seen before. Rather than acting out what happened in Paul's life, Biggins tells the story of his life, shattering the fourth wall entirely. He takes the audience on a journey, from small country town boy to one of the most significant leaders in Australian history. Paul grew up with a loving family and went on to drop out of school at 14 (My age!) and pursue a career; Not that he knew then what that career would be.

Biggins portrays Keating brilliantly, with masterful skill for the dry sarcasm Australians are known for. His wit, his strong beliefs, his charisma all immediately make you want to side with him.

As I was easily the youngest member of the audience (I doubt I was even a third of the age of most people there) I didn’t get many of the jokes he made and had no memory of the people he mentioned or the references he made. However, this didn’t impact at all how absolutely hilarious I found the show, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves politics, comedy, and (as an added bonus) a bit of song and dance.


Legally Blonde - Lara (16 yrs)

A recent school production has reached a point of greatness I haven’t even seen in professional productions…What like it’s hard?

Legally Blonde at The Empire was put on by our local Downlands College and I mean what more can I say then WOW. It’s not uncommon to see school productions in Toowoomba, but Legally Blonde was one I could not miss!

The musical follows Elle Woods (played by Gemma Smith) as she ventures to Harvard Law School in pursuit of love and to reconnect with her ex-boyfriend. With a glee loving chihuahua in hand Elle finds Harvard very differently from how she expected, facing bullies, heartbreak and a harsh professor. However, she also finds new connections in peer Emmett Forest (Tom Sinclair) and Paulette the hairdresser (Bridie Dowling). With these two (and a Greek chorus) at her side Elle becomes an absolute powerhouse, knocking off any old chips on her shoulder and instead taking them in stride. Elle solves a murder trial and frees Brooke Wyndham (Maddy Tooley) and overall becomes valedictorian of her graduating class.

The set design of the show was fabulous, with a booming (yet hidden) live orchestra and an exceptionally talented cast of students that really brought the entire show together. I really really enjoyed the show!

But what is a review without mentioning some highlights? Gemma Smith as Elle Woods was some of the most perfect casting. Gemma commanded attention and held a wonderful stage presence the entire show, her powerful vocals and mannerisms made her an absolute standout as Elle. Her co-lead Tom Sinclair was a fabulous Emmett, nailing the balance of charm and dork, Tom delivered on vocals and really shined in this role. Finally, Maddy Tooley as Brooke Wyndham who opened Act 2 with a bang! Maddy’s exceptional stage presence paired with high energy dance and vocals made Brooke a personal favourite of mine.

From the vast ensemble numbers, outstanding choreo and a beyond talented cast, Legally Blonde was constantly entertaining and never let the audience down. The show was beautifully done and had a lovely story behind it. Overall, it was fantastic, I wish I could see it again and again. 


Want one of our Highlighters to review your Empire production? Get in touch.


This Is The Last Goldfish That I Am Going To Eat For You - Jazmin (17 yrs)

This Is The Last Goldfish That I Am Going To Eat For You, by Grace Jarvis is a comedy show that highlights the uniqueness of the human experience and the odd, memorable, cruel, clumsy, plus everything in between that comes along with it.

Grace Jarvis and her setlist of plentiful childhood and teenage anecdotes was captivating and enthralled the audience with its relatability and hilarity. Through the perspective of an LGTBQIA+, neurodivergent and fellow former Toowoombian, Grace presents her life experiences in chaotic call-backs, unexpected connections and social commentary on topics spanning from religion, queer identity, veterans, and her own neurodivergence. However, she doesn’t shy away from making the tone more serious, sharing her experiences with mental health and self-harm, without feeling exploitative and edgy, but purely conversating and removing the taboo of it in conversations; Which never lasts long enough to dampen the mood – quite the opposite – it helps to familiarise and create a personal and safe-space which helps the jokes hit even harder. This is apparent, when making not-so-subtle digs at Toowoomba as a former resident, the audience was more than happy to agree and laugh along with her.

The humour, the atmosphere, the relatability, the emotions and overall, the show itself was able to create an electric environment providing a pleasurable and memorable experience with lots of guttural laughter from the crowd. So, if you are the kind of person who enjoys a presentative and engaging sense of humour I encourage and implore you to check out Grace Jarvis, and I hope to see more of her comedy in the future; maybe in attendance of her new show coming to Australia, Oh The Horrors!


This Is the Last Goldfish That I Am Going to Eat for You - Lara (16 yrs)

I've never been to a comedy show so I was truthfully very scared of audience interaction and safely chose to sit in the 2nd row. Comedian Grace Jarvis instantly made a mention of that, and how there would be no audience interaction- Thank YOUUUU!

As the "weird kid" of my family, this show hit hard. Especially my bladder. Boy was she SUFFERING. I can't say I've ever eaten a goldfish, but I have grown up neurodivergent, queer and a theatre kid in a regional town. I fit the trifecta.

Grace's show was so relatable and funny, I never stopped laughing and I also started crying at one point (from laughter, she's only joking everyone).

I spent one third of the show cackling so loud I inevitably lost my voice. Another trying not to piss my pants. And the final trying figure out where I recognised Grace's face. Tiktok? Nah, it was her casting of "the gay cat in Toowoomba Choral Society"...

How do you tell a comedian you've never met that she's the reason you're a theatre kid?

This Is the Last Goldfish That I Am Going to Eat for You was a brilliant show. Grace currently is in Brisbane for the annual Comedy Festival and I would highly recommend going to see her new set Oh the Horrors!


Cinderella - Lara (16 yrs)

Whisked away to a classic tale, The Empire Theatre’s 2024 production of Rodger and Hammerstein ‘Cinderella’ was nothing short of perfect. Directed by Tim Hill the show was a spectacle, from the costumes to the choreography everything was straight out of a fairytale.

The story follows Ella as she navigates a life of hardships, from a wicked family to poverty Ella is a strong and powerful female character. She dreams of different lives around the world and eventually gets to follow that path as she attends a masquerade dance. The show follows all the typical story beats of the classic tale but with modern twists, the added revolution, cries of poverty and corrupt government powers adds a sense of realism amongst the magic, the way the characters overcame their troubles with humour and love was truly magical. I really enjoyed the way each character was given depth, they all had hopes, wants, and dislikes and it provided for a deeply entertaining show.

Every single actor was amazing, but multiple had me fixated the entire show. Shannon Gralow as Cinderella was true perfection, the vocals she delivered were straight out of a Disney film. She gave Ella humour and passion outside of her kindness. Flynn Walmsley played Jean-Micheal, a regular townsman with a heart of pure gold, he fought to bring attention to the kingdom and the royals about the sufferings if their kingdom, paired with Flynn’s outstanding comedic timing Jean-Micheal was a standout character. Finally, a character that captured my attention was Lydia Cunnington as Charlotte one of Ellas stepsisters. Her performance of ‘Stepsisters Lament’ was bright and captivating making her a personal stand out.

The costuming was gorgeous, the choreography was fabulous, and the dancers were absolutely incredible. This show is truly amazing, nothing short of perfect, The Empire Theatre created magic on the stage I plan to see it twice more. The magic was sealed with a shooting star outside the theatre I never wanted the clock to strike midnight.

Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella played a 6 shows season at The Empire in 2024 attracting a total audience of 6,500 people. 


Cinderella - Asha (13 yrs)

Cinderella, directed by Tim Hill at the Empire Theatre was breathtaking. Every scene, costume, character, background and moment of the story was special and they couldn’t have made this masterpiece any better than it already is.

The show is based on the story of a girl named Ella (Cinderella), who lives with a horrible stepmother and two spoiled stepsisters. The play focuses on Prince Topher and Ella’s relationship as they meet and get to know each other. There are strong themes of friendship and of some protest, with characters mentioning the troubles and struggles of poor people in comparison to rich people. I am a big fan of the romance and tense themes that the show portrays. I felt excited at every new scene, waiting for what amazing idea they would include in the play.

I love how Cinderella’s relationship with Prince Topher/Christopher grew. Prince Topher seems to be very interested in Ella as a person, not rejecting her kindness just because she is poor. I also love Cinderella’s honesty and trust with the prince. She didn’t try to be his “dream girl,” she just acted as she did every day, like herself. 

In general, all of the actors did a great job, but there were a few performances I could not get off of my mind. Shannon Gralow (Cinderella) is such an amazing and talented person. Being able to act as well as she did in the show is one talent itself, but being able to sing incredibly well, too is truly astonishing. I must point out Flynn Walmsley’s performance on stage, too. Flynn Walmsley played my favourite character, Jean Michel. As soon as he walked on stage, I am sure the whole stage loved his energy and humour because I sure did. I am a fan of how he portrayed Jean Michel and the character’s memorable personality. 

The use of lighting when the Fairy Godmother used her powers was very creative. I also loved the costumes. Since parts of the show was set in a palace, there were many different coloured ball gowns that looked absolutely gorgeous. Out of every set there was, my favourite was the cottage Ella, her stepmother and her stepsisters lived in. There were so many interesting, playful and creative elements hidden inside and out, such as a piano hidden inside a set of drawers, a fox and raccoon and much more. Again, this show was breath taking and I highly recommend it to everyone. There are jokes anyone would enjoy and in general it is really just an incredible show with incredible dancers, actors and singers.

Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella played a 6 shows season at The Empire in 2024 attracting a total audience of 6,500 people. 


Static Air - Carolyn (18 yrs)

Static Air performed by the Senior Impact group of the Empire Theatre is a wonderful play that is a call to change, a call to everyday people to make change, and to find their own purpose in the world.

Set in the future, the world is a vastly different place. No radio, no rain, and strangest of all, no clouds in the sky. In a desperate effort to create more rain, this world has “could factories” designed to produce clouds, although even with all their efforts this proves unsuccessful. Soon after a day of work some cloud factory employees find something strange, a room that they latter discover is a radio station from the old world, which they use to create their own radio show. Apon discovery by the attenuators they flee, returning to their normal lives at the factory, until news of an uprising from the people they finally get to run in the rain.

From the soundtrack to lighting, this play was always entertaining and got a lot of laughs from the audience. This play was beautifully produced and had a lovely message, speaking of climate change and the impact the current generation will have on the fate of the planet was fantastic. The talent displayed from the young actors was fantastic and they should congratulate themselves on their amazing work.


Static Air - Sean (18 yrs)

IMPACT 2023’s performance STATIC AIR was an absolute blast to go and watch! The show had a perfect mix of a fun chuckles and some in-depth meaningful story telling, that’s not even mentioning the amount of talent and hard work that went together to put on such a spectacle. Seeing such a fun and bubbly group of young actors being able to put their heads together to formulate, write and perform an enjoyable and hard hitting piece of art is just amazing. Don’t even get me started of the message behind it all, the idea of ‘being heard,’ while a show about a forbidden radio station might be a bit on the nose, is an interesting topic to tackle. I loved it so much because exploring the idea of being heard through the lens of young people, who can often be some of our least listened to geniuses, gives a bit of a refreshment and a reinvention to what is one of the most common and repetitive themes. I think I’m blabbering on now so I’ll get to the point. STATIC AIR, and the amazing team behind it, both on stage and behind the scenes, took an old stale idea and through hard work and vulnerable story telling, created something new and beautiful. As an audience member I had so much fun I had to go back and watch it a second time, and as a past IMPACTER, I could not have been more proud of the work this years ensemble have put out!


Static Air - Calder (16 yrs)

A blank white sheet serves as the backdrop, tall and imposing. The workers, dressed in their orange jumpsuits and topped with hardhats, are ordered in rank-and-file, their hands over their chests as the very distorted anthem of the cloud corporation plays.

Static Air, presented by the Senior IMPACT team, was focused around a group of workers at a cloud-factory, working on and on day after day until they discover an abandoned radio shack, and start up their very own (makeshift) radio show, in an effort to generate hope for the rain-starved populace. The radio shack, filled with side conversations, energy and joyfulness, was quite contrasted by the slow, weary movement of the factory, with each ‘day’ of the play ending with a loud horn call and the burdened changing of the ‘DAYS UNTIL RAIN’ sign. The Attenuators, bodiless voices serving as the cloud factory’s managers, also provided an autocratic theme to the whole cloud factory. I quite enjoyed it - I certainly can understand creating an autocratic dictatorship just for the chance to have more rain.

Every now and then, the Director would chime in with a message, though it was increasingly suggested that perhaps the Director wasn’t who he claimed he was. This was never fulfilled, though, and I am quite sad that I never got to find out about what this pre-recorded message fully contained. I’m perfectly happy with the music the team used to interrupt the Director’s messages, which were very fitting with the dystopian theme of the cloud factory.

Overall, Static Air was a quite enjoyable play about drought and radio shacks and overburdening managers, though there were a handful of points that I would’ve loved to see - like, what sort of uniforms do the Attenuators wear? I want to see giant trench coats!


The Sunshine Club - Lara (15 yrs)

First Nations people have been storytellers before the word storyteller existed in English. They are the first people to live in Australia. And their stories have never died, they have been kept alive for thousands and thousands of generations. The Sunshine Club is such a perfect example of this. An emotionally driven performance the Sunshine clubs plot was so heart wrenchingly real that I could do nothing but think of how it was slotting in to this current society. The Sunshine Club is a necessary voice and story especially in this year's political climate. To have a show about First Nations people performed at our very own Empire Theatre was perfect timing. The story was beautifully heart-warming and shows that a little determination and motivation can change the world, or even your small town. Storytelling keeps legacy alive.


Twelfth Night - Calder (15 yrs)

The grand piano’s hood kicked open – two hands grasped onto the rim of the lid. A woman climbs out, wincing and gasping with pain – her ankle looked broken, considering she was avoiding putting her weight on it. She falls to the ground, leaning against her musical oubliette. The theatre is silent as she stumbles off. THEN A JESTER WALKS ON.

Bell Shakespeare’s performance of Twelfth Night was hilarious, confusing, and worrisome all at the same time. There’s a shirtless jester on a scooter, ranting off in some Shakespearean verse that could’ve been German for all I understood it – there’s a pageboy (or, rather, pagegirl) who for some inexplicable reason is the love interest of a Countess, and yes, there’s a poor head maid stuck in a piano and forced to withstand all the vibrating strings.

The tonal shifts between every scene probably gave me whiplash, yet the contrast between the dark, depressing moments and the glorious visage of the Jester, made me think even more about what the scene was actually trying to tell me, rather then just laughing it off or becoming sad and ignoring the rest of the play. Unfortunately, I could not tell what in the world the characters were saying, as I surprisingly don’t speak Middle English, but the hilarious costumes (airhostess uniforms, rich tropical outfits, a Jester costume that looked straight from the Elizabethan period) and the wonderful acting (once again, the Jester is all I have to point towards) more then made up for any words I did not understand.

I have to say, the Jester was the best character in it, and no one can disagree with me without watching the play itself, which will inevitably convert them to the Jester’s side.

Twelfth Night was quite enjoyable, quite confusing, and quite hilarious. Fare thee well, you baron rascals, and don’t get mistaken with your twin sister – it leads to some confusing situations.


Shack - Chloe (12 yrs)

Out of all the shows I have had the opportunity to review at The Empire Theatre this season, Shack is my all-time favourite so far. 

The plot of Shack is about nine school friends that are separated from their parents in a blizzard. They end up finding themselves in an abandoned shack which, thankfully, contains quite a few useful tools.

There were several moments throughout the show’s narrative where one of the characters would make a mistake or do something the group had not agreed on. However, they always figured it out and found a solution by discussing the situation with a friend.

I would say the moral of the story is about the importance of getting along with peers in difficult situations, whether or not the circumstances are ‘life threatening’ or just working at a school project. 

I actually auditioned to appear in this show but I was not selected. Therefore, to see actors my age perform in this show and do such a splendid job was really inspiring and motivates me to keep working at my own acting skills.

The actors demonstrated great skill and were superb at performing in sync with the sound effects and lights. There were so many things happening at once it was almost overwhelming for my senses.  

The use of props was very effective and incorporated so well into the show. The set was super cool and a feast for the eyes.

My favourite aspect of the whole play was the character of Rufus, the comedic relief character, who would make funny jokes or comments to lighten the mood. He made the whole audience laugh without fail every time. He was a well written character and performed brilliantly. 

Shack is an outstanding play. It has lots of heart while also containing plenty of laughs. I would definitely recommend it for audiences of all ages.


Young performers sitting on a stage in a circle

Youth Bursaries


For the future leaders of our creative industry - be sure to check out our Youth Bursaries on offer!

Acknowledgement
of country

Empire Theatres acknowledges the Traditional Custodians, the Giabal, Jarowair and Western Wakka Wakka people, where we work and present stories. We would like to pay respect to the Elders, past and present and to all First Nations people.

Artwork: Kim Walmsley

Empire Theatre