Grease is the word!

No matter where you stand with musicals, everyone knows Grease. It is, quite frankly, staple musical theatre, so as the ultimate stagey person, I’m pretty embarrassed to say I’ve never seen, nor do I like the show. But after seeing RTSA’s knock out performance, I’m converted and I cannot wait to see it again! As soon as the music started, there was an instant buzz in the theatre, everyone was sat in their seats, ready to be taken back to 1950’s Rydell High.

Every single cast member was giving it their all throughout the show and the energy never faltered. From the adorable ‘Elementary School’ kids right up to the powerful leads, their energy and passion fuelled the audience, even up to where I was sat right on the back row! There wasn’t a single weak link in the cast, the movement was slick, energetic and original and the vocals were tight and precise, but special mentions have to go to a few of the leading cast.

In a show like this, there are so many ‘leading parts’, so it would be impossible to mention everyone, but I have to start with little Eugene, played by my very own brother Kiran Richards. I’ve never felt so proud watching him on the stage, he was confident, funny and working in a part that suited him down to a tee. His acting skills were amazing and he was living the part. Him and Millie Ducker (Patty Simcox) were perfect opposites and Millie’s high energy was perfect in this part- she made me knackered just watching her. She played the part with such maturity and never fell out of character, even when she was met with a slap around the face from Sandy. Jan and Roger (Ciara Stothard and Marcus Bagley- Hodkin) were also such a perfect pair. Both had outstanding vocal talent and acting skills and such a hilarious chemistry on stagey. Emily Wallbank was perfect as beauty school drop out Frenchie- sweet, sassy and everything in between. Her counterpart Dan Fenwick was also brilliant in the role of Doody. His comedic timing was spot on and it was great to see him showcase such excellent vocals when his character made us believe he was tone deaf. That’s real acting.

Will Legetter was hilarious as Sonny with fantastic acting skills, whilst Georgia Collins was very impressive as Marty and it was great to see her showcasing her vocals in this role with a fabulous rendition of Freddie My Love. Her other Pink Lady counterpart Beth Atkin was insane as the powerful Rizzo and after overhearing comments from other audience members during ‘There Are Worst Things I Could Do’, its not just me that was blown away. Her partner Kenickie (Josh Roberts) was passionate, funny and I could tell he was loving every moment. All the supporting leads were incredible, but kudos has to go to the two principle characters, Danny and Sandy. I was so excited to see Brad Ryan and Chloe Jackson as the dynamic duo and boy did they deliver. These parts were made for the pair and they were just ideal. Brad’s acting skills were better than I’ve ever seen them before and I loved seeing him bring the part to life. Chloe Jackson, however, was definitely something special. With such amazing vocal abilities and acting skills, there’s no wonder she had Danny on a string!

For me, the only downside was a few problems with microphones, which meant we missed a couple of lines of libretto and offstage chorus singing being missed but I’d put this down to a few technical teething problems and the fact I was literally sat at the back of the venue, nothing more. It didn’t affect the show in any way and I completely loved the performance. The reaction from the audience was so incredibly positive and the entire society should be very very proud of themselves!




They Built This City on Rock and Roll- Splinters 25 Rock the Ages!

Now, out of all the musicals I’ve seen- and believe me, I’ve seen a lot!- Rock Of Ages is one that’s never really appealed to me. Full of 1980’s Rock classics, hence the name, this show is certainly not your average musical theatre piece, but Splinters25, which was formed to celebrate 25 years of the original company, put on a brilliant show, with excellent principles and energetic choreography.

The show beings with the character Lonny Barnett (played by Mark Holmes), who acts as the narrator and provides comedic relief throughout. This character breaks the sacred fourth wall at various points during the show, something not often seen in musical theatre productions, however Mark Holmes did this in such a clever way that it almost seemed natural to him. As the show begins, Lonny introduces us to Drew Boley (played by Adam Walker), an aspiring rocker working in The Bourbon Room, a rock bar found on the Sunset Strip and owned by music guru Dennis Dupree (Daniel Storey). Drew instantly falls for girl next door Sherrie Christian (Jess Curr) who leaves her hometown in Kansas to follow her dream of acting all the way to LA. Both Walker and Curr demonstrated great vocal talent throughout, with both lead roles having to deal with incredibly demanding songs, which were performed very well. Jess Curr’s acting talent was also superb, especially in the more emotional and reflective scenes and I felt that she really connected with the character.

As the Sherrie/ Drew romance starts to blossom, the residents of the Sunset Strip and regulars in The Bourbon Room are faced with disaster as developers Hertz Kleinman (Pete Lane) and his son Franz (Matthew Bevan) suggest bulldozing the strip in favour of more clean living, ultimately threatening the ‘sex, drugs and rock & roll’ lifestyle of the city. This doesn’t go down well with the Mayor’s assistant Regina Koontz, who starts a protest group and discovers a spark with Franz during the process. Pete Lane and Matthew Bevan worked perfectly together and the father- son duo were both talented and entertaining. Danni Hibbert was also fabulous in her role as Regina Koontz, with great vocal talent and excellent acting skills, notably in the more intense scenes towards the end of the show.

The entire cast and crew gave their all to the performance and there was no doubt that it was a feel good evening for us all. The audience was clapping along throughout and it was great to see people singing along, albeit quietly, to songs they’d only ever sing after a few too many beers. Unfortunately, there were a few instances in which the band drowned out the libretto and singing from cast members, as well as a few technical issues with microphones not being on for certain cast lines, but, due to my being in the audience on the opening night, I’d put this down to a  few teething problems. For me, the only other downside was the lack of precision with the harmonies. It seemed as if the ensemble was almost competing with one another to push their own voices further rather than working together and blending the sound to create the smooth backing vocals required for many of the songs. Despite this, I still had an amazing night in the Octagon Centre, a quirky venue that was perfect for this show. Everyone involved with the show should be very proud of themselves, and I cannot wait to see what Splinters and Splinters25 do next.


‘And I’m Telling You’ this is not one to miss!

So if you follow my Facebook, you’ll know that my mum planned an amazing Christmas surprise for me in December and I had no idea whatsoever. She did an incredible job and took me to see Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre, a show I’ve been desperate to see since it announced its opening. If you’re debating whether or not to see the production, I highly recommend you do! I can honestly admit that is it one of, if not the, best piece of theatre I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching!

The show tells the story of a dynamic trio, known as ‘The Dreams’, hailing from Chicago and we follow their journey into the music industry and all the trials and tribulations that come with it. The girls are initially hired to sing back up for Jimmy ‘Thunder’ Early and then branch off into a thriving career of their own, but not everything works out as well as they hoped. Changes start to occur within the group, causing friction between members and management and results with one girl leaving and being replaced. But its not all doom and gloom, as the show comes to an end, the girls realise how much they need one another and come together to perform one last time. It’s undoubtedly an emotional journey, but I’d happily take that same route again and again!

With a show where there is a named star leading the cast, in this case the incredible Amber Riley, you can guarantee that you’re in for a treat and boy did we get one. As soon as she stepped out on to the stage, she was greeted by rapturous applause from the audience and we knew that this was going to be something special. The trio of girls- Effie, Deena and Lorrell- worked perfectly together and their voices were to die for. From the tight harmonies to the elegant movements, these girls were everything I expected and so much more. This coupled with their male counterparts ensured that this would be a show we would never forget.

Joe Aaron Reid was the perfect Curtis Taylor Jr. with just the right amount of cold shoulder but all the charm of a man working his way to the top. His client, Jimmy ‘Thunder’ Early was played by Tosh Wanogho-Maud (who is actually the understudy) and I loved his character from start to finish. How he kept up that level of performance through such a vocally and physically challenging show I’ll never know  but his performance was definitely one of my favourites throughout. His emotional duet with Lorrell (Ibiano Jack) pulled at all the right heartstrings and we were there in the moment with them throughout. Tyrone Hutley was fabulous as Effie’s songwriter brother C.C White and had all the ‘cheeky chappy’ qualities that a part like this requires. The entire cast was incredible, with the ensemble working perfectly alongside the rest of the cast, but for me there was two unforgettable performances in that theatre- Liisi LaFontaine and Amber Riley (Deena and Effie respectively).

Unfortunately, Amber Riley was taken ill at the interval, but that wasn’t until she’d smashed her way through a powerhouse of songs and left us all speechless. Every time she sang a note I was on the edge of my seat in awe. Its almost magical when you’ve admired someone for so long and then there you are watching them perform live, but when it came to her rendition of ‘And I’m Telling You’, it was just something else. I have never seen so much passion in a song and I wept with, for and about her throughout the number. If I’m honest, I highly doubt there was a dry eye in the theatre. That performance is something that will stay with me and I’ve already been watching her live performances in an attempt to relive it again! This was my favourite number in the show and received a well deserved standing ovation at the end. Now, despite Amber being taken ill at the interval, her replacement- Karen Mav- gave an outstanding performance, something that can’t have been easy after being told only a few minutes before that she had to go on and take Amber’s place. She blew the roof off with her performance of ‘I Am Changing’, but the real pivotal moment in act two, for me, was the ‘Listen’ duet she performed alongside Liisi LaFontaine. Liisi’s vocals and performance were amazing throughout, there’s no denying that, but when she performed this number with Ms Mav, it was just insane. The two were making amends for fallings out they had had earlier on in the show and reunited in the most gorgeous way. The number was stunning and was finished with another standing ovation, once again well deserved.

I had an incredible afternoon watching Dreamgirls and would urge anyone considering it to seize the chance and grab a ticket. The entire cast are incredible and the understudies absolutely smashed it. I had such an amazing time, so a huge thanks to my mum for the best surprise ever!

Even if you go for one night only, I’m telling you you’re going to love it!


I Think They’re Gonna Like It Here

I have to be brutally honest here, Annie is definitely not one of my favourite musicals, but to give credit where it’s due, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening watching the ‘Steps Productions’ performance of the show. They say you should never work with children or animals, but director Ash White decided to not follow this advice and boy did it pay off!

All the orphans were adorable throughout the show, and you couldnt help but feel for them in their sorry situation. Ciara Gaddas was the cutest Molly and the acting from all the little girls was done with so much conviction. I, myself, was quite surprised to see them on the stage before the show actually started, as I thought ‘surely they’ll run out of things to do?’ but I couldn’t have been more wrong! The girls kept their performances up through the show and never fell out of character, each deciding to do something different in every scene.

The rest of the cast worked so well together, with brilliant acting performances from multiple cast members and brilliant vocals throughout, credit here to musical director Matthew Symonds. Credit also has to go to choreographer Danyl James Turvey, who’s choreography was original, unique and cleanly executed in every number.

For me, there was quite a few stand out performances of the night. Firstly, Adam Wigglesworth as Warbucks. Adam’s vocals were incredible in his solo numbers and his duet with Annie- ‘I Don’t Need Anything But You’- not only featured brilliant dancing skills from the pair, but their vocals never faltered despite the upbeat choreography.

Natalie Haigh was brilliant as Grace, and the part suited her perfectly. Strong vocals and lifelike acting completely enhanced Natalie’s performance and she was beautiful to watch on stage.

Sam Shitliffe was phenomenal as the menacing Miss Hannigan. Her characterisation and acting skills were second to none and I loved the ‘Easy Street’ number she performed alongside the talented, and very entertaining, duo of Rooster and Lilly (played by Aaron Wild and Ellie Simmons).

And last, but by no means least, Annie herself, played by the fabulous Eden Phillips. Eden’s vocals were outstanding for a girl of her age, and I was amazed that such a big voice could come from such a little girl. She oozed talent from the moment she stepped on stage and her acting was great. It was lovely to see her interacting with the dog and not being phased when her furry companion didn’t quite do as she was meant to. It’s fair to say that this little girl has talent way beyond her years.

Steps Productions put on a fabulous production, but for me the only downsides were the inconsistencies with accents and diction at various parts throughout the show. Having said that, this didn’t ruin the performance at all and it was obvious how much hard work and effort had been put in to make the show a success.
I always look forward to the shows that Steps put on, which increase in quality every year, and I was saddened to hear that after their next production, Hairspray, the society was taking a break. I look forward to the next and final production from Steps and I wish each and every person involved the best of luck with whatever comes next!

Thank you for a wonderful evening everyone, and to the remaining audiences, I think you’re gonna like it here!

A ‘Bloody’ Good Night At Sweeney Todd

For the first time in over 7 years, I was actually in the audience for an RTSA production rather than being on stage. As a member of the group, you never really get the hype about the quality of the shows but after watching the phenomenal Sweeney Todd, those resinating compliments finally make sense!

I’m not at all a fan of dark musicals so having to watch people get their throats slit really didn’t appeal to me in the slightest. But after watching the stellar production, the horror I felt at the prospect of the show was destroyed and my awe at the talent on stage was ever more prominent. Now, Sondheim’s complex score was going to be a challenge for anyone, but the young members of RTSA didn’t seem to struggle at all. With difficult rhythms, quick lyrics and (for want of a better word) an interesting storyline, the show kept the audience on the edge of their seats from curtain up to curtain down.

All the principles were brilliant, with Rob Cannon playing the spooky Judge Turpin absolutely fabulously and Brad Leeks camping up Pirelli to no end, but for me, there were 5 stand out performances of the night. Firstly, Beth Atkin who’s portrayal of the ‘Beggar Woman’ was so realistic, you couldn’t help but feel a little sympathy towards the character. She was incredibly funny at all the right moments and was undoubtedly the perfect person for the part.

Secondly to Isabel Canning who was the most amazing Mrs Lovett! Isabel embodied this part and played it with an incredible amount of conviction. Isabel’s versatile acting abilities enabled her to move from a crazy pie maker, to a woman smitten with Mr Todd throughout the show and her performance quality was second to none.

Daniel Fenwick was outstanding as Tobias and his duet alongside Isabel- ‘Not While I’m Around’- didn’t leave a dry eye in the theatre. It’s was obvious to the audience how much Dan enjoyed this part and his comedy and emotion throughout the show enhanced his performance so much!

Isabella Eagle was simply the perfect Johanna, and after having an incredibly short time to learn the role, she did an immense job. Isabella’s rendition of ‘Green Finch and Linnet Bird’ was a dream to listen to and I was blown away by her vocal abilities!

Finally to the man of the hour, Josh Roberts who played the demon barber himself, Sweeney Todd. The passion that Josh had for this role was incredible and it was almost as if he believed he really was Mr Todd. Josh’s acting was brilliant and he didn’t drop character at all throughout the entirety of the show.

I’m so proud of how the whole of RTSA have pulled together to pull this show off. After the uncertainty as to whether the show would even go on, every single person involved with the show- be it on stage or off- worked and supported one another relentlessly.
Credit must also go to director Dee Bennie-Marshall who’s ideas and concepts are extraordinary and the support she gives the members of RTSA is invaluable. Every person in the show should be incredibly proud of themselves and I would like to thank them all for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

You can next catch RTSA at the civic from 20th-24th of September 2016 where they will perform Peter Pan the Musical and I promise you nothing short of a fabulous night!

You’re never too young to love the theatre!

For some people the West End is a home away from home, but for others it’s a new, and possibly daunting, experience. An amazing idea for introducing children to London’s theatreland is kids week that runs throughout August. During the month, when you buy an adult ticket for selected shows, you can buy a child ticket for free! This is really good if you’re looking to introduce your youngsters to the theatre world, as there are many shows on offer that are suitable for all ages. The shows on offer include Wicked, Disney’s The Lion King and, for the tiny tots, Aliens Love Underpants and Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom. 

Alongside the shows, there are tons of events running that offer entertainment for both children and adults. There are theatre tours as well as theatre related trails and also workshops available for shows such as Blood Brothers. With all these ace opportunities available within Theatreland, it’s the perfect time to bring children to witness the beauty of the West End theatres. 

VISIT: for tickets and more information!

Where am I going to?

For those who fancy a career in performing arts, choosing the next steps to take can be incredibly difficult. Choosing a pathway that is right for you and will get you to where you want to be is absolutely crucial, no matter what field you want to explore.

People make their way into the musical theatre industry in different ways. Some go down the stage school route, some are lucky and just walk straight into a job, and some are scouted by agents or directors, but no matter how they break into the performing arts world, it takes a lot of HARD WORK. To make it in the industry, you have to be prepared to work your socks off for as long as you need to, and do whatever it takes to get you where you want to be.

Some people have no idea where to start at all, so here at EverythingStagey, we’ve decided to lend a hand and give a bit of advice to those struggling to find a way.

There are many stage schools on offer all over the country, some are local and some are miles away from home. No matter what school you go to, you’ll be singing , dancing and expanding your acting skills all day long, so making sure you’re picking somewhere that suits you is the most import thing! Some people don’t want to travel so far away from home, so the more local facilities will benefit them.

It would be impossible for me to include every single school on offer, so here is just a small handful of colleges available for budding performers.

Northern Ballet School- Manchester

As you may have guessed, the Northern Ballet School is a dance based school, but it offers a variety of dance genres rather than just ballet. Students who graduate leave with the Northern Ballet School Diploma in Professional Dance.

LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts)- Liverpool

LIPA is a great place ‘for people who want to persue a lasting career in the arts and entertainment industry.’ They offer full-time three year BA (Honours) Degree programmes in lots of aspects including acting, dance, music and sound technology. They also offer one year foundation courses and weekly acting classes for 4- 19 year olds, see their website for more information.

Phil Winston’s Theatre Works- Blackpool 

Phil Winston’s is a dance and musical theatre based college. They offer one year foundation courses as well as a full-time three year course. Graduates receive their Theatreworks Diamond & Diploma. There is a lot of emphasis on getting their students into the working world and into the dance or musical theatre industries.


Northern School of Contemporary Dance- Leeds

This is a vocational dance training school that offers a variety of courses. There is a one year foundation course available as well as both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. There are also part-time courses available as well.

SLP (Studio Le Pointe)- Leeds

SLP college is centred around dance and musical theatre and offers brilliant facilities. The college offers full-time three year diploma courses in both musical theatre and dance. There is also a one year foundation course available and a one year postgraduate course on offer.


Arts Ed- London

The president of Arts Ed is none other than Lord Lloyd Webber himself! They offer musical theatre and acting courses as well as weekend courses, evening courses and holiday courses.

Mountview- London

Mountview offer intensive, practical training with all students receiving over thirty hours of teaching each week. They offer both undergraduate and post graduate courses in a variety of aspects including musical theatre and theatre directing.

Laine- Surrey

Laine Theatre Arts aims to provide its students with the broadest spectrum of musical theatre and dance training available. They offer professional training, children’s trading and adult classes too! You can choose to study a level 6 diploma course, a foundation diploma course or a BA (Hons) musical theatre course.

GSA (Guildford School of Acting)- Surrey

Despite its name, GSA is not just centred around acting. They provide courses in different aspects of the musical theatre world. They offer undergraduate BA (Hons) courses in areas such as acting and musical theatre, as well as postgraduate courses such as contemporary theatre making. They also offer part time or foundation courses.

Tring Park- Hertfordshire 

Tring Park is open for students aged 8 all the way to 19. For junior, middle and senior school, the day is split between vocational training and academic studies. For the vocational training there is a variety of courses, see the website for more details!


Amanda Holden- Mountview

Connor Fisher- Mountview

Verity Rushworth- SLP College

Julie Andrews- Arts Ed

Samantha Barks- Arts Ed

Oliver Tomsett- Arts Ed

Ruthie Henshall- Laine

Kerry Ellis- Laine

Bill Nighy- Guildford School of Acting

Ella Henderson- Tring Park

The show must go on!

Understudies are often overlooked in the performing world, but they play a fundamental role and not many productions would be able to function without them. Other important parts in shows, other than the leads, are the swings. The swing parts have to learn everyone’s places in every dance as well as what each person sings and where they move on the stage. The swing members have one of the hardest jobs in the business, and many refer to their well kept ‘swing bible’ before they need to go on to make sure they’re 100% clued up on where they need to be. 

The majority of the leading ladies and men on the West End and Broadway started out as understudies, so being cast as one can be the stepping stone someone needs to get into the leading lady’s shoes.

Luke Harley – currently studying at Arts Ed in London – gave me his insight into the topic of understudies and swings. He told me “swings and understudies are incredibly vital for performances.” To be a swing, you have to have a massive amount of brain power so that you can learn every part you need to and remember exactly what everyone does. Being a swing means that you may end up learning up to 10 different tracks for a performance, and having to know where everyone stands, each individual’s choreography and harmonies, as well as all their libretto. Using Luke’s words, “it’s an incredibly exciting job” He continued  “If you were in Les Mis, you could be playing Grantaire in the matinee and Courfeyrac in the evening performance.” 

Understudies and swings never know what’s going to happen, so they need to be ready for anything and everything.

I also managed to get an insight into the topic from Megan Louch, who is currently performing as an onstage swing in the UK tour of Annie. She said to me, “Both understudies and swings are massively important, they have to have a really good brain. You could be learning 6 tracks that all have different choreography, harmonies and partner work.” Clearly it’s not always just  about remembering the dancing, singing and acting as an understudy/swing. Megan also said “you have to learn their costume changes, onstage traffic and backstage traffic.” 

Taking on a swing or understudy role is a big responsibility, because if someone can’t make it, it all comes down to you. You have to be very aware, responsible, switched on and ready for anything. She told me, “It’s a very demanding job, so people are going to get overtired or injured etc.” The job of a swing is often made even harder when they are pushed onto the stage, regardless of whether they feel well or not. They are the most relied on in the show, so if they’re not feeling 100%, it doesn’t matter, the show must go on. 

She went on to say, “it’s a very rewarding and varied job.”           People don’t realise how valuable it is to have the experience of a being a swing under your belt, it takes so much work to pull it off successfully and be able to remember every single thing that happens on stage. Megan’s aspiration is to be a dance captain and she believes that a swing is a good step towards that, as a dance captain is responsible for knowing everything that happens in the show. 

Being an understudy in the professional world is totally different, as some shows hold performances where the understudies play the leading roles, however being a swing doesn’t change. But both of these parts are mighty important, as you never know what’s going to happen on that stage or if you’re going to get called in. So don’t be disheartened if you get cast as a swing or understudy when you were desperate for a lead, you’re probably doing a more important role than you think.

“I will love you until the end of time…”

The most important people in a performers career are not the directors and choreographers, or even their agent, they’re the people that support them and stand by them no matter what. They continue to root for them even when an audition has gone dreadfully wrong or a job opportunity passes them by. Family and friends who never stop believing or encouraging you to follow your dreams are the most valuable people you’ll ever need in your life.
Sometimes, it’s not your biological family that provide the foundations of support for you, it may even be your ‘theatre family’! You soon learn that the people you meet doing this as a hobby 4/5 times a week become so important to you that you can’t live without them. I, for one, know that my stagey friends are the best friends I’ve ever met- they support me regardless of what happens and they’re always there to pick me up when I have a bad performance or miss out on a part I want. The same goes for them though, we always cheer each other up when one of us is feeling down or disheartened and this just goes to show how strong our bond of friendship is. 
No matter what happens in our performing careers, we’ll always stick by eachother and support one another through it all. I love my theatre family so much and don’t know what I’d do without them! 

I get by with a little help from my friends!

There’s no place like home!

A lot of people reckon that the only musical theatre worth seeing is that shown on the West End or Broadway. Well, they couldn’t be more wrong!! With the amateur music groups growing in numbers every day, amazing musical theatre may be closer than you think.

Youth theatre is right on the doorsteps of a lot of people, but it often goes unnoticed. Incredible shows are being performed by amateur groups of both youngsters and adults, many to the standard of the West End. The ‘School Editions’ of many musicals allow local groups to perform the most amazing shows, such as Les Mis and The Phantom Of The Opera, whilst giving the same standard performances you’d see in London. Local theatre and talent is often forgotten about or sometimes ignored, but people don’t realise what they’re missing out on! It provides brilliant opportunities for young people and helps open doors into new careers that they may never have considered. Local theatre could be considered one of the most fabulous things around, after all, what could be better than being able to see a marvellous, West End standard production, without needing to travel miles away from home?!

Performing in an amateur youth group also helps children by providing them with a hobby, that equips them with many skills for life. Joining and performing with a youth group often gives young people confidence and teaches them to believe in themselves and aim for the stars. It also helps young performers to become more understanding of the diversity in our society, as musical theatre can be a safe haven for all walks of life. But working with different people is what creates such a sense of unity amongst these groups and forges such a family-like relationship. Friendships made within these groups often become friendships that last for life and, as a performer in a youth group myself, I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t joined my local group and made the friends I have. 

Head over to these websites for amazing local musical theatre around: