Musicals ROCK! VII

College Students Set to ‘Rock’ Stratford

Performing Arts students from Stratford-upon-Avon College are set to ‘ROCK’ the town later this month with a mind-blowing celebration of some of the most successful musicals ever.

Set in the amazing Stratford ArtsHouse, with performances over three evenings from 22 to 24 May, ‘Musicals ROCK! VII’ will highlight numbers from shows including Jesus Christ Superstar, Hairspray, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, Les Misérables and We Will Rock You.

The thrilling production involves 40 performers, each playing a number of different performance and stage management roles.

Musicals ROCK! VII Cast

Jessie Thomas, 19 from Evesham, plays Fantine in Les Misérables and Eva Perón in Evita and has also taken on the role of Assistant Musical Director. She singled out the ‘We Will Rock You’ section as being a particular show-stopper: “We know the audience is going to get pumped up – how can you not get pumped up to a Queen song?”

Luke Keane, 17 from Ettington, plays three roles on stage: Link Larkin in Hairspray, Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors and Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. Luke had this to say of rehearsals: “The biggest challenge has been the sheer amount of song lyrics and dance choreography we’ve had to learn in such a short amount of time. But it’s really rewarding when you start to see everything come together.”

Commenting on the rehearsals, Musical Theatre lecturer Alex Dengate said: “The students are determined to make the show a huge success. They’ve been working tremendously hard to perfect their performances and their talent, enthusiasm and dedication are reflected in the rehearsals which are going extremely well. ‘Musicals ROCK! VII’ is going to take Stratford by storm!”

The College’s Musical Theatre team initially grew concerned when they learnt the ArtsHouse would be changing licensee but thanks to Stratford Town Trust’s support and commitment to the community, the show can go on. Alex remarked “We are extremely grateful to the Trust for ensuring that ‘Musicals ROCK! VII’ can go ahead in this prestigious setting. With their invaluable help, the production’s future is secure.”

Jessie summed up the show’s appeal – “It’s a unique and creative explosion of musicals and rock music.” Following last year’s hugely successful ‘Musicals ROCK! VI – Resurgence’, it promises to be even more popular, so be sure to book early to avoid disappointment!

Tickets are available through the College website at

Former Performing Arts Student Reece Bahia

College Graduate Prepares For A Thriller Performance

A former student at Stratford-upon-Avon-College has begun rehearsals for a major West End theatre performance having been cast in the musical Thriller Live.

Reece Bahia from Coventry studied Musical Theatre at the College from 2012 to 2014 and will be performing songs such as Dirty Diana, Beat it and She’s Out of My Life as part of the production.

Over the moon at being cast in such a prestigious show, Reece said, “It is a huge honour to be cast in this production. When I was growing up, Michael Jackson was my biggest inspiration so to be able to celebrate his music is just perfect.”

Such on-stage success is a far cry from the future Reece was working towards just a few years ago when studying A Levels to pursue a career in dentistry. “I’ve always been passionate about music since an early age and I think I always knew it was what I wanted to do. I got to a point in my A Levels when I finally accepted this and decided to pursue it with all my heart.”

After joining the College’s Musical Theatre course, he never looked back. “I couldn’t recommend the Performing Arts department enough. The staff in the College gave me the confidence and skills to be able to pursue my dream. If you are thinking about taking up performing arts as a career then this is the place for you.”

Since graduating, Reece has secured modelling work as the face of Indian clothing company KOOVS, filmed commercials in India and Argentina, and performed in the leading role of a UK tour of the musical Laila. And with his latest role in Thriller Live, it seems dentistry’s loss is definitely musical theatre’s gain!

Nathaniel Morrison outside Stratford-upon-Avon College

All Together Now for College Graduate

A musical theatre graduate from Stratford-upon-Avon College is currently appearing as a judge on BBC1’s new Saturday night prime-time singing contest All Together Now.

Nathaniel Morrison, originally from Birmingham, graduated from the College in 2002 and was accepted into Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, where he gained a BA(hons) in Performance. Dividing his time now between Birmingham and London, he is clearly a young man of many talents – actor, singer, songwriter and dancer.

Not only is he the founder and artistic director of The West End Gospel Choir, he is also part of newly-formed Motown revue group Affinity Soul, whose members met while filming as judges on All Together Now, and is their musical director.

Nathaniel, who made his professional West End debut playing Stevie Wonder in a production of Dancing in the Streets, has had an amazing start to his career; among his many theatre roles, his credits include Jersey Boys, Sister Act and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

As if this was not enough, he also finds time to return to the College regularly to work with current musical theatre students, to pass on his expertise to the next generation of performers.

And now Nathaniel can add talent show judge to his varied career! He is delighted that the BBC have acknowledged his achievements and feels honoured to have been selected by them to appear on the industry-expert judging panel – “the 100” – on a national singing contest. Explaining his role on the show, he said: “I was involved in the programme from the start and helped with the development of the concept. I was part of a team invited to act as the judges on the original pilot filmed while the format was still being formed.

“I was looking for the whole package. I wanted a performance that takes risks but that’s safe enough to enjoy without feeling nervous. Singing at the edge of your range where you can feel the energy and the passion. I want someone who engages and connects with the audience.”

Nathaniel credits Stratford-upon-Avon College with setting him on the road to his present career, preparing him for the industry and encouraging him to apply to drama school, and is particularly grateful to his lecturer for guiding him through every step of the way during the application process. “Stratford helped me in every way possible. Without the College I wouldn’t have a clue what is required in the performing arts world. They also take time to invest in their alumni. I feel very honoured that they keep in touch with me. You get great aftercare.”

Musical theatre students Connor Marron and Maddie Cartwright

Music Mayhem and Good Fun Arrive Just in Time To Beat The January Blues

A honking good time!

Musical theatre students are bringing feel-good fairy tales to Stratford-upon-Avon College. They are delighted to present their latest musical theatre performance project – Honkerella.

From Thursday 18 to Friday 26 January, the students will be staging two musical productions – Honk! and Cinderella. Although each show has its own individual musical style, they are perfectly matched in comedic tone and in their themes of love, regeneration and acceptance.

Alex Dengate, musical theatre lecturer, is certain this year’s productions will prove to be a tremendous success. “The students have worked incredibly hard to perfect their performances and bring these fairytales to life with a modern twist. The two shows are a delight and are sure to thrill young and old alike – just the thing to chase away those post-Christmas blues!”

Honk! – George Stiles’ & Anthony Drewe’s 1993 multiple award-winning musical – is a triumphant celebration of being different. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved fairytale The Ugly Duckling, its sparkling wit and equally delightful score will undoubtedly appeal to all ages.

Honk! tells the story of Ugly, who is teased and bullied by the other animals on the farm for no other reason than appearing different from his duckling siblings. Ugly embarks on an adventurous journey of self-discovery, during which he succeeds in outwitting the show’s main villain – a very hungry Cat – and meets a whole flock of unique characters. Ugly learns a heart-warning lesson: being different is not really a bad thing after all.

Honk! 2018

Performing Arts, Musical Theatre and Technical Theatre students present Honk!Since it first hatched in 1993 Stiles & Drewe’s musical Honk! has winged its way around the world in over 8000 productions and in many different languages. Winner of multiple awards, including the 2000 Olivier Award for Best Musical, this heart-warming celebration of being different is sure to delight audiences of all ages with its sparkling wit and memorable score.Book your tickets now >

Posted by Stratford-upon-Avon College on Thursday, 21 December 2017

And Cinderella, first shown on television in 1957 starring Julie Andrews, embodies the enchantment of a timeless, classic fairytale. Combining Rodgers & Hammerstein’s originality, charm and elegance with the stage adaptation’s great warmth and laughter, Cinderella transports its audience to a magical kingdom where dreams really do come true; the hearts of both children and adults never fail to soar when that glass slipper fits.

Cinderella 2018

Cinderella 2018 Tickets > timeless enchantment of a magical fairy tale is reborn with the Rodgers & Hammerstein hallmarks of originality, charm and elegance. Originally presented on television in 1957 starring Julie Andrews, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA was the most widely viewed program in the history of the medium. Its recreation in 1965 starring Lesley Ann Warren was no less successful in transporting a new generation to the miraculous kingdom of dreams-come-true, and so was a second remake in 1997, which starred Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as her Fairy Godmother. As adapted for the stage, with great warmth and more than a touch of hilarity, the hearts of children and adults alike still soar when the slipper fits. This Enchanted Edition is based on the 1997 teleplay.

Posted by Stratford-upon-Avon College on Thursday, 21 December 2017

Supported by the College’s technical theatre students, each student with an acting role also has responsibility for one of Honkerella’s many production roles, which vary from front of house, to costume or make-up, to publicity.

Musical theatre student Jasmine Gillett, 20 from Bishops Itchington near Southam, plays Dot, a goose who acts as a kind mother figure to Ugly, in the production of Honk!. Jasmine is delighted with the way rehearsals for the show have been shaping up. “It’s going really well. We work so well as a company and everyone’s really supportive of each other. Being a part of Honk! is an incredible experience and it’s got a really strong message – it’s a heart-warming musical about how being different is good.”

So if you are looking for something to bring post-Christmas cheer to your friends or family, book your tickets now at


Have Honking Good Christmas

Feel-good fairy tales bring festive cheer

Musical Theatre students at Stratford-upon-Avon College are thrilled to bring you this year’s Musical Theatre performance project – Honkerella.

From Thursday 18 January to Friday 26 January, the students are presenting two musical productions – Honk! and Cinderella. The shows make up a perfect duo; although they have different musical styles, they are united by the same comedic tone and by their themes of love, regeneration and acceptance.

First hatched in 1993, George Stiles’ & Anthony Drewe’s multiple award-winning musical Honk! is a heart-warming celebration of being different and is sure to delight audiences of all ages with its sparkling wit and memorable score.

Re-imagining the much-loved Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Ugly Duckling, it tells the story of Ugly, who has to suffer the taunts of the other animals on the farm simply because he looks different from his duckling siblings. Ugly finds himself on an adventure of self-discovery, all the while unknowingly outwitting the show’s main villain – a very hungry Cat, and along the way meets a whole flock of unique characters. Ugly finds out that being different is not a bad thing after all.

And in Cinderella, the timeless enchantment of a magical fairy tale is reborn with the Rodgers & Hammerstein hallmarks of originality, charm and elegance. First presented on television in 1957 starring Julie Andrews, and adapted for the stage with great warmth and more than a touch of hilarity, Cinderella transports its audience to the miraculous kingdom of dreams-come-true; the hearts of children and adults alike still soar when the slipper fits.


With support from the College’s Technical Theatre students, each student taking part in the performances is also responsible for one of the many production roles, ranging from front of house, to costume or make-up, to publicity.

Musical Theatre student Connor Marron, 17 from Banbury, plays the Cat in Honk! and is also the show’s assistant director. For him, the biggest challenge was embodying an animal correctly: “When you actually stand on stage and try to portray a cat it’s very tough. You need to be believable, not look ridiculous and also focus on your performance.”

But an enthusiastic Connor, who has prepared for the role by studying real life cats and researching various productions of the musical Cats, is delighted with rehearsals for the show so far. “The show is amazingly interesting to be a part of. It’s amazing to watch and so much fun to be in.”

Stuck for that special Christmas present for a loved one? Don’t miss out! Book your tickets now at

Dance and Musical Theatre lecturer Phil Watson-Smith

Hollywood Comes to Christmas

Stratford will be having a Holly Jolly Christmas.

A Stratford-upon-Avon College lecturer will take to the stage in a Hollywood-themed Christmas show.

Phil Watson-Smith, a lecturer of Dance and Musical Theatre at the College, is a member of theatre company The Theatre Collective – a group of eight professionals, all with a drama school or teaching background, who were eager to perform professionally in their spare time.

The company will soon be staging A Holly Jolly Christmas – their very own musical theatre show providing a festive celebration of the golden era of Hollywood. Phil, originally from Solihull, describes A Holly Jolly Christmas as “a fun, family-friendly festive treat designed to set people up for the Christmas season.

“It’s inspired by cinematic depictions of the festive session – Bing Crosby, Michael Buble and Judy Garland – and is packed with Hollywood Christmas classics. It pays tribute to the greatest stars of the MGM years in Hollywood.”

For Phil, being involved in The Theatre Collective offers more than the thrill of being on stage. He firmly believes creating and performing in theatre productions helps him in his role as a lecturer in dance and musical theatre and ensures he is teaching his students the necessary skills: “I feel that I wouldn’t be able to do my teaching if I didn’t have the level of practical experience shows such as this provide. It gives me a real insight into the industry I am preparing my students for.”

A Holly Jolly Christmas is on at Blue Orange Theatre in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham on 9th and 10th December, 2.30pm and 7pm.

Tickets cost £14 (£10 concessions) and are available at

And for those who can’t get enough of the festive spirit, the company has recorded a Christmas album of songs from the show, which will be on sale at the performances.

For regular updates on rehearsal and previews of some of the numbers to be performed, keep an eye on The Theatre Collective’s Facebook page.

Dance students from Stratford-upon-Avon College with Edge Hill University’s Debbie Milner (far left)

Performers on Track for Stardom

RSC, Performing Arts School and alumni provide hands-on support at Stratford-upon-Avon-College.

It has been a fantastic start to the year for Performing Arts students at Stratford-upon-Avon College. Only three weeks into the new term, the students have already found themselves immersed in hands-on, intensive workshops, developing professional skills and audition preparation with the RSC, leading Performing Arts Schools and former students who are now flourishing on the stage and screen.

Just last week, two Performing Arts lecturers from Edge Hill University visited the College to work with its Dance and Acting students. With the help of a group of their own Edge Hill students, Debbie Milner, Senior Lecturer in Dance, and Geof Atwell, Senior Lecturer in Drama, ran workshops to prepare the College students for university applications and industry employment.

Amongst the Dance students taking part in the workshop were Georgia Holmes, 17 from Warwick, and Nathan Smart, 17 from Brackley.

For Georgia, the most challenging part of the workshop was the unfamiliar African dance style favoured by Edge Hill. “The way you have to move is very different to anything I’ve done before. It was really fun but tough!”

The focus of the workshop was on audition preparation, and both Georgia and Nathan are agreed that it has helped prepare them for progressing to the next stage of their career. Nathan commented: “Debbie and Geof encouraged me to really push myself. I learned so much from the session. They gave us plenty of tips on how to succeed in auditions. It’s allowed me to develop a better understanding of how to behave, how to present myself, and how to work with a choreographer during auditions.”

And Georgia summed up the mood of her fellow students: “They pushed us a lot, which is exactly what you need. I feel much more confident about auditioning. I feel I can step into an audition now and feel fine instead of just panicking!”

Claire Morley, Assistant Head of Performing Arts and Music, is in no doubt about how important it is for all her department’s students to absorb a professional stage environment right from the start of their course. “I’m delighted they have already had the benefit of so many visits and workshops so early in their studies, and I am deeply grateful to all those who have given their time to visit the College and share their skills, knowledge and invaluable experience with our Performing Arts students.”

Musicals ROCK! VI

Musicals ROCK! VI

Set in the fabulous ArtsHouse, Stratford upon Avon, students from Stratford upon Avon College are set to ‘ROCK’ the town through three evening performances celebrating the successes of a selection of epic musicals including; Copacabana, Chess, Rocky Horror Show, Grease, Wicked and Mamma Mia. With nearly 100 students involved in the show the performances are set to blow you away!

Video courtesy of the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald.

Musical Theatre students rehearse for their upcoming performance of Chaircago

Students Raise Disability Awareness with Unique Musical Adaptation

Stratford is about to host a unique theatrical performance, when Musical Theatre students from Stratford-upon-Avon College put their own take on the musical Chicago.

Inspired by one of their colleagues, Kieron Hoult, 17 from Redditch, who is a wheelchair user, the students felt passionately about the need to raise awareness of wheelchair users in the arts and decided to perform excerpts from the musical with all performers in wheelchairs – and so Chaircago was born!

The British Red Cross is kindly sponsoring the event by lending the College 22 wheelchairs for use in the performance. Nadia Jambawai, Mobility Aid Coordinator at the Red Cross commented: “We’re delighted to lend our support to this very worthwhile project and to be able to provide practical help. Until people experience an injury that affects their mobility, they just don’t realise how challenging it can be. The students should be applauded for their wish to raise awareness in such a positive way.”

Everyone involved is excited by the thought of performing Chaircago in front of a live audience. First year Musical Theatre student Kieran will be performing in the show and has served as Movement Director, helping the students to learn to operate the wheelchairs. He explained: “This is by far the best performance I’ve been involved with at the College. We designed the show to illustrate to people that disability is no barrier to being involved in a production.

“A few years ago, I was told that I was unable to study GCSE Drama when I was at school, so it’s really important to me to prove that this can be done and show that there is a key role for people with disabilities in the arts.

“The rehearsal period has been more challenging than our previous productions. We’ve had a few on-stage collisions as the other performers have been getting used to moving in wheelchairs!

“The audience won’t have seen anything like it; this is a once in a lifetime experience and a true first for the College.”

Musical Theatre students rehearse for their upcoming performance of Chaircago

Musical Theatre students rehearse for their upcoming performance of Chaircago

Musical theatre students preparing to go onstage at the NAMSS Conference

College Performing Arts Students Wow the Audience at National Conference

Musical Theatre students from Stratford-upon-Avon College attended a prestigious educational event where they were invited to perform show-stopping extracts from one of their recent productions.

The students travelled to the NAMSS (National Association for Managers in Student Services) Annual Conference in Liverpool where they opened the event’s 30th anniversary gala dinner at the Hilton Hotel on Monday evening.

The students took to the stage to perform a selection of songs, monologues and dances from the play ‘Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens’. The audience, comprising representatives from over 100 colleges across the UK, were delighted by the quality and passion of the College performance, and the Musical Theatre learners were thrilled to receive a standing ovation.

Mark Lewis, Director of Student Services and Marketing at the College, was very proud of the students. “They put on a superb, highly professional performance and proved to be worthy ambassadors for the College. We are grateful to NAMSS for giving them the chance to perform in front of such a prestigious audience; opportunities like this are vital for students to experience a real-life theatrical setting and further develop their performance skills.”

The students were also able to take advantage of the trip to spend the afternoon at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. Participating in a series of acting, dance and music workshops, they took advantage of this great opportunity to enhance their learning and gain a taste of the rigorous training that awaits them as they progress to drama school.

Level 3 Musical Theatre student Paige Donaldson, 17 from Solihull, is currently auditioning for drama schools and found the visit invaluable. “We got to experience first-hand how students at LIPA are taught. I found out a lot about what they expect from the students who come to audition with them.”

Level 3 Musical Theatre student Bryony Harrison, also 17 from Solihull, has just been accepted to the second round of auditions at the Guildford School of Acting in Surrey. “It really gave me a feel for the different pathways available to me while studying at a drama school.”

Bryony certainly believes that the combination of the LIPA workshop and her training at the College has set her up perfectly for the future. “My course at Stratford-upon-Avon College definitely prepared me for progressing to the next stage of my training. My confidence has increased a lot and I absolutely believe if I wasn’t studying Musical Theatre here I would not have been able to get through any of my auditions.”