Following the fortunes of our talented former students

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni

Ashley Nottingham

After graduating from College Ashley went on to train at the London Studio Centre, where he now is a regular teacher and choreographer. He also teaches at LSMT and Bodyworks teacher. Ashley graduated from the London Studio Centre with a BA honours degree in Theatre Dance and a Class A teaching qualification in ISTD.

In 2012 Ashley commented, “Stratford-upon-Avon College gave me the ability to connect maturely with the Performing Arts industry. I had the opportunity to explore many pathways that make up the professional world of Theatre. Devising and designing scripts, sets, lighting, costume, make-up and of course acting, dancing, singing, directing and choreography.

The College was a unique way of connecting with related subjects. The varied lectures provide a solid foundation in all areas relevant to theatre, in fact you could say that the course leaves ‘no stone left unturned’. My experience at the College gave me a sound grounding to launch me onto my next venture down at the London Studio Centre.”

Ashley’s recent work includes choreography for the Singapore Repertory Theatre’s production of Red Riding Hood and working alongside Warwick Davis as assistant director and choreographer for the Milton Keynes Theatre’s production of Snow White.

Choreography credits include Spring Awakening (Pleasance Theatre) London Studio Centre, Snow White (Manchester Opera House) First Family Entertainment, WILDBOYZ (Elgiva Chesham), Rumplestiltskin’s Daughter (Earls Court Festival). As Assistant Choreographer: BBC’s So You Think You Can Dance, The Drowsy Chaperone (Upstairs at the Gatehouse), Crazy For You Showtime Challenge (London Palladium), The Boy Friend Showtime Challenge (Her Majesty’s Theatre). Also West End Eurovision (Piccadilly Theatre) National Dance Awards (Sadler’s Wells), Dance Overtures for the London Studio Centre, Colin’s Performing Arts and Central School of Speech and Drama Summer Shows.

Assistant Director on Peter Pan (New Victoria Theatre, Woking) First Family Entertainment.

A Chorus Line (Palladium) Assistant Dance Captain; Hello Dolly (Leicester Curve) Ensemble and Cover Barnaby Tucker; Swing and Cover Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz (London Palladium); The original cast of Love Never Dies (Adelphi Theatre) Dance Captain, Swing and Cover Gangle and Squelch; We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre); Never Forget (Savoy Theatre) Swing and Cover Ash Sherwood and Adrian Banks; 42nd Street (UK Tour) as Billy Lawlor; Disney’s Beauty and The Beast (UK Tour) as Cheese Grater and Cover Lumiere; Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (Milton Keynes Theatre); Beauty and the Beast (Devonshire Playhouse, Eastbourne) and The Jazz Dance Company (UK tour).

Television credits include The BBC Broadway Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, EastEnders The Musical Alistair McGowan Christmas Special, Top Of The Pops, UK Gold Style Challenge, Ultra Beat Pop Video.

Ben Elton

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Ben Elton

Ben studied his A Levels at Stratford-upon-Avon College and is now a successful comedian, writer, actor, author and director! His first sitcom credit was as co-writer of the classic The Young Ones. He then went on to co-write some of the Blackadder series. By 2000, having established himself as a successful novelist, screen writer and comedian, Ben then turned to film directing with Maybe Baby.

Watch Ben on YouTube mention his former Stratford-upon-Avon College Lecturer Gordon Vallins who lends his name to one of our two theatres.

Dan Krikler

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Dan KriklerFollow @dankrikler

Dan studied the BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts – Musical Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 2007 until 2009.

In 2008, Dan appeared in the College’s production of Les Misérables. Dan took on the role of Marius. Four years on and he is making his West End debut in Loserville, a new musical by Elliot Davis and James Bourne at The Garrick Theatre. Dan plays Charlie Arrow/Convention Announcer.

Dan trained at Laine Theatre Arts, from where he has just graduated. His credits whilst training include: Prince Charming in Cinderella with Julian Clary (Theatre Royal, Plymouth and dancing for Brian May and Kerry Ellis in their Anthems concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

“I remember arriving at college for the first time in 2007. I was so excited and couldn’t fully comprehend that finally I was about to spend my whole time working on theatre and performance. I still have that excitement and hopefully always will, and what was brilliant about Stratford for me was the co-existence of all the different disciplines that go into theatre being trained for simultaneously! Everyone being so fresh and eager to absorb as much knowledge as possible creates a wonderful environment in which to learn and create. It was this environment that I really missed when I left the course. I’d say appreciate and use your time to train, because it will fly by!”

Emile Ruddock

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Emile RuddockFollow @emileruddock

Multi-talented Emile’s main passion is tap dancing and is a member of a tap dance crew called ‘The Pulse Collective’. The tap dance crew featured on Sky 1’s Got To Dance earlier this year, and performed at MOVEIT2013, in Paris. He also currently teaches tap dance to students of all ages and abilities across Warwickshire and in London.

Emile featured in Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics as a drummer, a role he revisited later for the Opening of the National Television Awards. His latest job will be performing in the Cast of 42nd Street at the London Palladium on the 17th March as an Ensemble Tap Dancer, choreographed by Original Cast Member Graeme Henderson and So You Think You Can Dancer UK winner Matt Flint.

Emile commented, “Training at Stratford-upon-Avon College gave me such a boost, not only in my physical ability to dance and perform, but in my knowledge and understanding of the Industry I am in now. The kind and genuinely caring attention given to me by the amazing faculty, made my two years not only extremely beneficial but a whole lot of fun too.

Nothing made me happier than waking up every morning (albeit at 5am), to go to college and have a day full of Performing Arts and Dance. The experience and training I have taken with me to this day is invaluable and I will always remember and appreciate my time there!”

Jack Knowles

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Jack KnowlesFollow @jackknowles

Jack left school to go to Stratford-upon-Avon College where he gained ‘Student of the Year’ in the first year studying Level 2 First Diploma Business, then going onto study BTEC National Diploma for 2 years.

Upon leaving college Jack worked in a sports shop to fund his first venture and has been running his own companies successfully ever since.

Jack is Managing Director and Founder of Complete Dating Limited which runs over 100 owned and partnered online dating websites. Partners include TOWIE stars Mario Falcone and Kirk Norcross, Celebrity Big Brother star Chantelle Houghton and MTV Ex on the Beach favourite Chloe Goodman.

Jack’s other company, ServicePals.com Limited is the UK’s biggest Armed Forces social network. The website has helped raise nearly £100,000 for the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes and was recently reviewed as ‘Outstanding’ by the UK’s leading internet magazine WebUser.

In 2014, Jack reached the finals of the prestigious UK Dating Awards for ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’. The UK Dating Awards is the biggest event in the UK industry and praised by the BBC.

Jack commented, “I spent an amazing 3 years at Stratford-upon-Avon and I’ll always be grateful. That fact is I wouldn’t be where I am today without studying on the course. Richard Silcox and Nicola Lee were both incredible and the encouragement, after a disappointing secondary school level, was second to none.”

Jake Rollins

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Jake Rollins

Jake was a student at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 1997-1999 studying A-levels in Media, Drama and English Literature.

After completing a degree in Film, Television, Literature and Theatre Studies from York St John he began his career working in the Drama department at BBC Pebble Mill. There he trained as an Assistant Director and has since gone on to work on high profile dramas including Hustle and Spooks for BBC and as Freelance Assistant Director worked on dramas for Channel 4 (Top Boy) and ITV (Wired). His feature film credits include Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides, Oranges and Sunshine, Nativity and Toast.

“Having recently returned to the college I was so impressed with the facilities and hitech equipment that the college provide for the students. What a fantastic start to learning the basics of production!”.

James Muirhead

James left school in South Africa for England to study A-Level Theatre Studies and English Literature at the College 1987.

When attending an RSC performance with the College, a lecturer commented “You can learn a lot about the nature of a play just by looking at the set even before the actors step on.” This struck a chord with James as he was one of only two people on the course who did not wish to pursue an acting career.

In 1990, James joined ITV Yorkshire, initially working as a grip before stepping into Assistant Director roles, and finally the Locations Department on dramas such as Hearbeat, The Royal & Steel River Blues.

Having left ITV Yorkshire in 1996, James went freelance, ultimately working as Location Manager on numerous dramas, commercials and features predominately in the north of England.

Among his credits are BAFTA-winning dramas such as Moors Murders and Appropriate Adult, feature films for Warner Bros, and commercials for Mercedes and Proctor & Gamble.

He also recently worked on the new Russel T Davis drama Years and Years, and is the supervising Location Manager on the Sky Drama Tin Star.

Jo Joyner

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Jo Joyner

Jo studied A Level Drama at the College in the 1990s. She now plays “Tanya Branning” in Eastenders and was rewarded for her role at the British Soap Awards in 1998. Jo has also appeared in a number of other programmes, including Clocking Off, North & South and No Angels. In 2006, Jo also won a Rose d’Or International Award for best female comedy performance in Channel 5’s Swinging.

Jo is also starring in BBC One’s Candy Cabs, playing Jayne.

Jo returned to the College on Thursday 23rd September 2010 to spend a day meeting with staff and students. In the morning she visited some vocational and A Level Performing Arts classes and in the afternoon she participated in a very special enrichment activity: An Audience with… Jo Joyner. Jo talked to over 200 students about her life as a student at Stratford-upon-Avon College, her training, how her career as an actor started and her breakthrough into television. She provided many insights into the world of professional theatre and television and also told us about her new BBC show Candy Cabs which will be broadcast soon.

Edward Pinner, (former lecturer) taught Jo as a student at the College and is delighted that she found the time to visit.

“Jo is an ideal role model for our students who have an ambition to enter the professional performing arts industry. Her successful career has come about through hard work, perseverance and dedication. Although she is now ‘someone off the telly’ and a ‘celebrity’, she has not let that change her approach to life. Jo always was, and I am glad to say still is, an open, friendly, articulate woman who is appreciative of the opportunities that have come her way and has made the most of every one of them. A role model indeed”.

Jo recently won ‘Best Dramatic Performance’ and ‘Best On Screen Partnership’ (alongside Jake Wood) at the British Soap Awards 2012.

Joel Stanley

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Joel Stanley

After leaving Stratford-upon-Avon College in 2004, Joel worked with ex-tutors David Coulter and Chris Long on Damon Albarn’s opera Monkey: Journey to the West as both the drummer and orchestra manager. It was this gig that opened him up to the technical side of the music industry, about which he already had prior knowledge thanks to his BTEC ND in Pop Music.

That was his last show as a professional musician but, with no regrets, Joel progressed from drummer to world-renowned production manager. Joel now produces tours, festivals and events for clients such as Kanye West, Gorillaz, Warner Music Group, Nitro Circus, Virgin EMI, Stormzy and Goldenvoice.

Whenever he’s asked, Joel speaks very highly of Stratford-upon-Avon College, his tutors and the time he spent there – without it, he wouldn’t be where he is today.

You can view the many projects Joel has worked on at his website: www.productionvalue.co

John Leader

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni John LeaderFollow @Mr_JLeader

John studied BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts – Acting at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 2008 to 2010.

John (or Jonathan) studied acting at Stratford-upon-Avon College; notably playing the part of Orlando in the College’s production of As You Like It.

After College John gained a place at East 15 Acting School (at the University of Essex) studying Physical Theatre where he developed his talents in mask, puppetry, clowning, aerial work and movement, in addition to traditional acting skills.

Recently John has joined the acclaimed stage show War Horse and is currently touring the country.

“Stratford-upon-Avon College most certainly gave me the foundation in Acting that I needed to pursue a professional career as a performer. With both amazing lecturers and facilities, it was certainly two invaluable years I shall always remember.”

John Robert-Partridge

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni John Robert-PartridgeFollow @JRPPartridge

John really enjoyed his time at the College and appeared in many shows including John Proctor in ‘The Crucible’, Leontes in ‘The Winter’s Tale’ – two parts that earned him the nickname of The Broken Man which has stuck with him since leaving Stratford. Other appearances include Mr Jones in ‘Keeping up with the Jones’, The Mayor in ‘Seussical the Musical’ and Odysseus in ‘The Odyssey’.

John-Robert went on to gain a place at Birmingham School of Acting in 2005 and trained for three years and played such roles as The Devil in ‘Paradise Lost’, Schwartz in ‘Lulu’, Macduff in ‘Macbeth’, Aristach in ‘The Suicide’, Armand Duval in ‘Camille’ and Edward Ferrars in ‘Sense and Sensibility’. He graduated with a First Degree in Acting and was the winner of The Brian Shelton Meritum for Excellence in Performance.

Since graduation John-Robert has trained with the Royal Shakespeare Company working on Voice and Movement in Shakespeare. He also has performed in The Sam Wanamaker Festival as The Clown from ‘The Winter’s Tale’ at a packed Globe Theatre in London, an experience he will never forget and one he would love to experience again. John is also a regular performer for Mad About Productions appearing in Panto in Rochdale in 2009 and Essex in 2010 as Wishee Washee in ‘Aladdin’.

When John is not corpsing and looking behind him, he has been working as a Shakespearian Actor at The Shakespeare Birthplace performing extracts from some of the Bard’s Greatest Works.

Along with all that if he is not busy enough he also runs Tread the Boards Theatre Company based in Stratford-upon-Avon. A company whose reputation for producing excellent theatre is growing. In 2010 Tread the Boards performed at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival and subsequently won two awards for Best Actor and Best Play.

Most recently they have just completed a sell out tour of the UK premiere of ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’ both productions John himself directed.

John has finally returned to Stratford-upon-Avon College to work alongside the lecturers in helping other talented students to get the amazing chances that he has had the fortune to get, by giving workshops on both the acting side and business side of running a theatre company. John hopes to build on the relationship and be able to give something back to the College where it all started.

Tread the Boards are always on the look out for new and upcoming talent to perform in their productions or to train alongside professional technicians, directors, actors and producers which is hugely beneficial in going out into the world of the arts.

Joseph Mawle

Joseph studied the BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts at the College.

In 2008 he starred as Jesus, the leading role in BBC’s blockbuster, The Passion. The Passion retells the last week in the life of Jesus and was written by Emmy Award winner Frank Deasy.

He recently appeared in HBO’s acclaimed fantasy drama Game of Thrones alongside Sean Bean. In 2012 he starred in the company of Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver in The Cold Light of Day.

In the latter end of 2013 Joseph took up the role of Inspector Jedediah Shine in popular BBC period drama Ripper Street.

Khurrum M Sultan

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Khurrum M Sultan

Khurrum studied National Diploma in Media Production at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 2004 – 2006.

After graduating from Stratford-upon-Avon college Khurrum earned a BA in Filmmaking from the University of Lincoln before earning his masters at The London Film School.

Khurrum’s documentary Hear Our Voices – was shown to President Barrack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. More recent projects include a film titled ‘My Friend Erhin’ to be shown at The Chicago Children’s Film Festival, which is Academy qualifying so could see him nominated for an Oscar. Khurrum is also about to start work on a documentary about illegal immigration for the British Foreign Office and has just bought the rights to a ‘controversial’ book which he plans to turn into his first feature film.

Khurrum commented about his time at Stratford-upon-Avon College: “We were made to feel as if we were filmmakers from the start – I learned all the basics of what I do here, going to university afterwards almost felt like a step back – I have missed it”

Kristian Curtis

Kristian studied Level 3 Diploma in Advanced Professional Cookery at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 2005 – 2008. He is now a chef at The Cross in Kenilworth.

Lauren Samuels

West End star Lauren studied on a BTEC National Diploma Performing Arts – Musical Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 2004 – 2006.

Lauren is a former National Diploma Performing Arts Musical Theatre student who left Stratford-upon-Avon College in 2006 (better known to college staff as Lauren Bonner). Lauren took part in many college productions including Little Me. After leaving the college, Lauren continued to study Musical Theatre at the Guildford School of Acting.

Lauren was a finalist in the BBC’s Over the Rainbow before making her debut on the West End in 2010 as Sandy in the London production of Grease. Recent Lauren was cast in the role of Scaramouche in We Wil Rock You at the Dominion Theatre London and went on to tour with the show across the UK.

A former lecturer of Lauren’s (Edward Pinner) said, “We are all delighted to see Lauren doing so well and it is fantastic that her career is going from strength to strength. Her participation in Over the Rainbow has raised her profile to stratospheric levels and many new doors will open for her.”

(Photograph courtesy of the BBC.)

Leo Bill

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Leo Bill

Leo studied A Level Drama Package at the College in 1996-98.

He went on to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and graduated in 2001. Leo has appeared in The Hothouse, The Reporter and The Observer at the National Theatre. He has also appeared in the Beautiful Thing.

His TV performances have included:

Home Time, Ashes to Ashes, Lead Balloon, Sense and Sensibility, Jekyll, Bash, A Very Social Secretary, Silent Witness, Messiah, Beethoven’s Eroica, Canterbury Tales, Spooks, Midsomer Murders, Harry Enfield’s Celeb, Surrealismo, Attachments II, Crime and Punishment and Broke

Previous films have included: Me and Orson Welles, Alice in Wonderland, Becoming Jane, The Living and the Dead, These Foolish Things, The Fall, Vera Drake, LD50, Two Men Went to War, 28 Days Later, All or Nothing and Gosford Park.He was awarded the Austin Texas Film Festival Best Actor Award in 2006.

Previous films have included: He was awarded the Austin Texas Film Festival Best Actor Award in 2006.

Leo appeared as Hamish Ascot in Alice in Wonderland, a fantasy-adventure film directed by Tim Burton. The film was released through Walt Disney Pictures in Disney Digital 3-D and IMAX 3-D, as well as in regular theatres.

Liam Michael Scullion

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Liam Michael Scullion

Liam Michael Scullion graduated from Stratford-upon-Avon College in 2009 with a BTEC National Diploma in Musical Theatre.

Liam had a predominantly actor/singer background but had no previous experience of dance training. However, whilst at the college he found his niche in dance and after several successful auditions for both London musical theatre schools and other UK dance schools, went on to train in classical dance for three years at the Northern Ballet School in Manchester.

Liam has recently joined the ballet ensemble of the internationally famous ‘show palace’ Friedrichstadt-Palast in Berlin, Europe’s largest revue theatre. He is one of 60 dancers from 18 nations performing 8 times a week (under the direction of Alexandra Georgieva) before 1900 guests on the largest and most high-tech theatre stage in the world.

Liam commented, “Stratford-upon-Avon College offered me two amazing years where, with the encouragement of talented staff, my career in professional dance truly began.”

Melissa Wells

Melissa studied the BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts (Performance) at the College in 2006-8, passing the course with three distinctions.

She is best known for playing Loretta Jones in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks. Melissa previously appeared in Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story as Head Girl alongside Julie Walters.

More recently Melissa has become a bestselling author and certified health coach with features in Forbes Under 30, Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan, BBC Radio 1 and more.

Michael Rivers

Michael completed the BTEC First Diploma in Performing Arts – Acting at Stratford-upon-Avon College in 2007, he then progressed on to the BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts (Acting), graduating in 2009. After leaving the College, Michael went on to train at East 15 Acting School.

Actor/Director Michael’s career has taken him into theatre, television and film. Television work includes: BBC One’s Doctors, Sky 1’s The Cafe, Channel 5’s Banged up Abroad and Channel 4’s Shameless.

In 2011 he founded d’Animate, a quirky and innovative new theatre company. The company made a vivacious debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Merchant’s Hall with the bright and energetic Bitesize Chekhov; which received a 5 star review and was nominated in the top 5 things to see at the Fringe. D’Animate is now on to their London debut with Roughs at The London Theatre.

Michael commented, “I loved my time at Stratford-upon-Avon College. I use my training everyday and it has helped to equip me for the profession. I feel it is the place to start if you are serious about sustaining a career in the industry.”

Nathaniel Morrison

Stratford-upon-Avon College AlumniNathaniel Morrison

Nathaniel studied a National Diploma in Performing Arts at Stratford-upon-Avon College Warwickshire from 2000-2002 and has gone on to star in a number of West End productions in the last few years.

Nathaniel appeared in the West End production of ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’, alongside Lee Mead, the winner of the TV talent show ‘Any Dream Will Do’. He has also appeared in Trevor Nunn’s West End production of ‘Porgy and Bess’, ‘Dancing in the Streets’ in the West End and the national tour of ‘Tonight’s the Night’.

Staff who have worked at the College for many years will remember Nathaniel serenading Edna (Secretary) in the Brazz as part of her retirement celebrations.

Paris Georgia

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Paris Georgia

Paris (formerly Paris Tredell) studied the BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts – Musical Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 2011 until 2013.

“Since leaving college I have done things I never imagined I would do! I sang at Wembley Arena in front of 12,500 people which was amazing and I signed a recording contract with Voice in A Million to be part of my current group Ynfiniti.”

“I would never be where I am now without the support and encouragement from the lecturers at Stratford-upon-Avon College. Alex Dengate is one I would particularly thank as he had belief in me right from day one and gave me the best vocal coaching that I could ask for and I will always be grateful for that. Attending Stratford-upon-Avon college was the best decision I ever made and I loved every second of it. Having done the Performing Arts (Musical Theatre) course, I learnt a lot and gained lots of skills that I would have struggled to get elsewhere.”

Paul Taylor

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor completed a BTEC in Media Studies and an A Level in Film Studies at Stratford-upon-Avon College 1998-2000.

Having won twelve prestigious awards previously, including the Standard Life Audience Award at the 2008 Edinburgh International Film Festival, Paul Taylor’s award winning feature length film documentary, We are Together, made a huge impression on the film industry and was released by EMI in May 2008.

We are Together is a documentary that follows the life of a choir of South African children who have been orphaned by AIDS. The film follows the children for three years and focuses on their use of music to deal with the hardship they face. From coping with a fire at the orphanage, a death of a sibling, the disappointment of a cancelled trip to perform in the UK, to the joy of performing on a New York stage with Alicia Keys and Paul Simon, this is a highly emotive film.

Despite a filming budget of only £6000, We are Together has raised £250,000 to help the orphans of Agape.

Paul’s former tutor, Simon O’Grady, commented,” It was obvious that Paul had a great deal of talent when he was studying here. The professional approach of the Media course helped him to develop the skills he needed to start his career in the film industry. Paul’s film is incredible and I can understand why it has won so many awards. We are Together is a beautiful film.”

Sam Swann

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Sam Swann

Sam studied A Level Drama Package at the college.

Sam’s currently studying a three-year acting course at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and he’s now landed himself a role with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Sam played the Boy Soldier in Dunsinane, a play by David Greig, which opened at Hampstead Theatre (London) in February 2010.

Sam was cast as as Peter Pan in Ella Hickson’s new version of JM Barrie’s much loved classic tale Wendy & Peter Pan at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Sarah Jane Morris

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Sarah Jane Morris

Sarah studied at Stratford-upon-Avon College in the 1970s on the A Level Drama Package (Drama and Liberal Arts) and was admired by her tutors for her ‘uniqueness’. She had a “voice of remarkable quality” which she went on to discover and develop throughout her career as a successful jazz singer. She recently marked 25 years as a performed with the release of a retrospective album.

In 1986 Sarah became famous when she featured as a co-vocalist with the popular 1980s band, the Communards, on their cover version of the song ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’, which spent four weeks at Number 1 and became the UK’s biggest selling single. Sarah continues to perform at various national and international venues.

Simon Pegg

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Simon Pegg

Simon Pegg studied A Levels at Stratford-upon-Avon College in 1985-87 including English Literature and Theatre Studies.

Since leaving the Stratford-upon-Avon College, Simon went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre, Film and TV at Bristol University in 1991. After a brief career as a stand-up comedian, his first small screen appearance was in the comedy sketch show Six Pairs of Pants (Channel 4, 1995). This led to a few cameo appearances in a number of comedy productions between 1997-99. He then co-wrote and starred in the BAFTA nominated Spaced (Channel 4, 1999-2001). Following the success of this programme, Simon went on to act in a number of other roles, including an effective straight role as a soldier in Tom Hanks’ Band of Brothers (HBO, 2001).

Simon’s big screen breakthrough came in his role in Shaun of the Dead, a gripping horror spoof. The film was nominated for Best British Film at the BAFTAs and won the Peter Sellers’ Award for Comedy at the Evening Standard Awards. The success of this film was a wonderful breakthrough for Simon as the film also became popular in America. Following this Simon landed a role as a twitchy computer expert in Mission Impossible 3, starring Tom Cruise and appeared alongside David Schwimmer in the American film, Big Nothing (US, 2007). Following Shaun of the Dead’s success, once again Simon teamed up with co-star and best friend Nick Frost to make crime comedy-thriller Hot Fuzz (2007), Paul (2011) and The World’s End (2013).

Simon reprised his role of Benji Dunn in Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), the sixth film of the action franchise, making him the only actor from the film series other than Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames (who portrayed their characters in every film) to appear in more than three of the films.

Sophie Ayers

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Sophie Ayers

Sophie studied the BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts – Musical Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 2007 until 2009.

In 2008, she appeared in the College’s production of Les Misérables playing Fantine. Four years on and she is making her West End debut in Loserville, a new musical by Elliot Davis and James Bourne at The Garrick Theatre. Sophie plays Marina.

Having left college, Sophie went on to train at Bird College, where she graduated in July 2012. Theatre includes: Loserville (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Broadway Then and Now (Orchard, Dartford), Chess (Studio House Theatre) and Sleeping Beauty (Royal Spa Centre).

“My time at Stratford-upon-Avon College will stay with me forever. The acting classes especially taught me a lot, as we able research in depth a lot of famous plays and writers. At Stratford-upon-Avon College I felt like it was a place where I lost all my inhibitions and gained confidence in all subjects. The support from the teachers meant that I grew as a performer. I was able to play the role of ‘Fantine’ in Les Miserable, and this for me was one of my highlights about being at Stratford college.

The exposure and confidence I gained has helped enormously to get where I am now. I would like to thank Stratford-upon-Avon College for being as positive and supportive as they were.”

Stuart Goldsmith

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Stuart GoldsmithFollow @StuGoldsmith

Stuart Goldsmith is a comic and actor who studied at Stratford-upon-Avon College in the 1990s.

Stuart studied A Level Drama package in 1994-96. He currently plays actor/presenter “Caleb” in BBC1’s Mission: 2110, alongside fellow alumnus Noel Byrne.

After attending Stratford-upon-Avon College, Stuart and Noel went on to become street-performers, winning the Scottish National Busking Championships. Stuart later won third place in the World Championships.

As a stand-up comic, Stuart has supported Mark Watson on two national tours, and warmed-up TV studio audiences for Miranda, The IT Crowd, 2 Pints Of Lager, Coming Of Age, We Need Answers and he Stephen K Amos Show. Stuart also featured as one of ten talented comedians competing in ITV1’s seven-part reality series, Show me The Funny.

“Stratford-upon-Avon College is an incredible place, and gave me an astonishingly professional grounding in both performance, and the ability to make work under my own steam, rather than waiting for someone else to give it to me,” commented Stuart.

Stuart made a triumphant return to Stratford-upon-Avon College on Thursday 13th January 2011 to perform his debut stand-up comedy show The Reasonable Man. The Reasonable Ma is the story of what happened when he tried to be himself instead. It is a white-knuckle, high-octane meander through the worlds of sex, circus and subculture. A glorious stand-up debut from a nice young man with no tattoos.

Stuart said, “I am thrilled to be back at the College performing the work I am most proud of.”

Tony Tobin

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Tony Tobin

Tony Tobin studied for two years at Stratford-upon-Avon College.

Tony’s first professional position was in the kitchens of the Chester Grosvenor. In 1984 he moved to London and joined the staff at the Capital Hotel under head chef, Brian Turner. This was followed by a ground-breaking move to work for five years with Nico Ladenis. Tony started off at Chez Nico in Battersea, later becoming Sous Chef at Simply Nico in Westminster.

At just 25, Tony took over as Head Chef at the South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding where the restaurant was awarded the Good Food Guide’s Country Restaurant of the year during his three and half years in charge. In 1992, he made his first television appearance in the BBC series ‘Hot Chefs’. From 1995 onwards, he featured on ‘Ready Steady Cook’ and also as a presenter on ‘Spice World’ and ‘The Green Gourmet’ on the Carlton Food Channel.

Tony is currently serving up modern British dishes at The Dining Room in Reigate, Surrey where he is Chef Proprietor. He is also the patron of The Ketogenic Diet, intended for children with epilepsy and is a spokesperson for Spirit Pubs as part of his campaign to inspire young people to enter into the catering industry.

Greg McLeod

BAFTA award winning animator Gregg McLeod studied on a BTEC National Diploma in Media at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 1992 until 1994.

As one half of The Brothers McLeod, Greg is an award winning illustrator, animator and director who has worked on a wide range of projects including animation, illustration, exhibitions and book covers.

Working in partnership with his brother Myles, Greg’s client list includes Aardman Animations, the RSC, E4, BBC, CITV, Nickelodeon, the Tate Galleries and Stratford-upon-Avon Fringe.

Greg is particularly proud of his BAFTA-nominated short film Codswallop and his current work developing a series for Disney.

Greg has won a BAFTA for the film ‘Quiff and Boot’, received a host of film festival accolades, been nominated for three other BAFTA awards, and won a Webby.

Reflecting on his time at the College, Greg feels his course was of particular importance when it came to developing his understanding of film techniques and the editing of narrative storytelling. He has particularly fond memories of producing a comedy short film based on Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.

Since leave the College, both Greg and his brother have worked with many areas of its Creative Arts team and continue to give up a great deal of their time, despite a busy work schedule, to support staff and students. Greg has delivered lectures on his career to date and led interactive workshops. Industry interaction is something he feels is vital for up-and-coming filmmakers; he has shared how the brothers run their business as entrepreneurs, discussing the differing merits, motivations and challenges when it comes to producing paid work for clients in comparison with independent passion projects, and the challenges of working to tight deadlines and specific project briefs. He has also provided invaluable insight into his working process: how he develops ideas and decides which concepts to prioritise over others.

Victoria Morris

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Victoria Morris

Victoria attended the College in 1990-1992 on the BTEC National in Performing Arts, where she discovered a passion for technical theatre and, in particular, stage management.

“I was the first student to get into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to study Stage Management & Technical Theatre and made it onto the front page of the local paper. I trained at Central School of Speech and Drama before working extensively in the West End and Europe, mainly in musical theatre productions such as Starlight Express and Saturday Night Fever.”

“More recently, I have worked in live events and technical theatre apprenticeships, employed by theatres such as the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Opera House and other notable theatres as well as smaller venues. I have recently taken a year out to work as Head of Stage Management & Technical Theatre at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. Now I’m returning to train and assess apprentices and lead the Internal Quality department at the National College for Creative Industries, as well as writing the new course specifications for various creative apprenticeships and working in external quality for an awarding body.”

Zoe Spurr

Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni Zoe Spurr

After completing her A Levels at the College Zoe went on to study at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD) in London, where she graduated in 2012 with a BA (Hons) Degree in Theatre Practice – Theatre Lighting Design.

During her time at RCSSD, Zoe was named runner-up for the 2012 ETC Award for Lighting Design for one of the two shows she designed lighting for at the Embassy Theatre.

Zoe is now a Freelance Lighting Designer and on leaving RCSSD embarked on her first tour with Dora the Explorer; spending three weeks in Blackpool, before transferring to the West End’s Apollo theatre. LikeLife Touring in Australia has since toured Dora the Explorer to the Middle East and Spain and Zoe travelled with them as the Lighting and Sound Technician. Other touring work includes: Headlong’s 1984, a co-production with Nottingham Playhouse and the Almeida Theatre; The Arrival with Tamasha Theatre Company and You Could Move with Outbox Theatre Company. Production work includes: Tanzi Libre at Southwark Playhouse; Eric and little Ern at Vaudeville Theatre and Derren Brown’s Infamous at Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.

Reflecting on her time at college, Zoe said, “I always look back fondly on my time at college; the experience and collaborative work gave me a strong foundation and the passion to pursue a career in Lighting Design. It gave me the drive to succeed in this difficult industry. After deciding Acting wasn’t for me and with the encouragement from my lecturers I pursued lighting and lit two productions as part of my A Level Drama Package exams.“