Following the fortunes of our highly successful former students
Stratford-upon-Avon College Alumni
What are they doing now?
Cast of Les Misérables 2008
Simon Pegg studied Theatre Studies at Stratford-upon-Avon College in 1985-87.
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). 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). 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), 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.
Ben studied English, History and Theatre Studies at Stratford-upon-Avon College.
He then went on to the University of Manchester and graduated with an Honours degree in Drama. His subsequent career has seen him become a successful comedian, scriptwriter, actor, author and director!
In 1982, at the age of 23, he had his first sitcom credit, as co-writer of the anarchic The Young Ones which followed the surreal lives of four socially inadequate students. He then went on to co-write some of the Blackadder series which became a worldwide phenomenon and cemented his reputation as an influential comedy writer. He later wrote the musicals We Will Rock You (2002), based on the music of Queen, and – in collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber – Love Never Dies (2010), a sequel to Phantom of the Opera.
Ben is also a successful novelist with 16 novels published. Several reached number 1 in the British Bestsellers listings, including Stark (1989), Gridlock (1991) and Popcorn (1996). He turned to film directing in 2000 with Maybe Baby, the film adaptation of his own novel Inconceivable (1999), starring Hugh Laurie and Joely Richardson.
Throughout his varied career, Ben has been honoured with numerous accolades. In 2007 he was awarded the Special Golden Rose d’Or at the International Television festival in Lucerne, Switzerland for his lifetime contribution to the television arts. Other awards include 3 BAFTAs for Best Comedy Series for The Young Ones, Blackadder the Third and Blackadder Goes Forth; the Olivier Award for Comedy for the stage adaptation of Popcorn; and a British Comedy Award for The Thin Blue Line which he wrote and produced. His novel Popcorn also won the Crime Writers Association’s Gold Dagger Award for Crime Fiction.
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 appeared in multiple seasons of HBO’s acclaimed fantasy drama Game of Thrones as Benjen Stark.
In the latter end of 2013 Joseph took up the role of Inspector Jedediah Shine in popular BBC period drama Ripper Street and in 2018 played Odysseus in Troy: Fall of a City.
Leo studied Drama at the College in 1996-98.
After studying at the College Leo went on to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) graduating in 2001.
Leo is known for playing Private Jones in 28 Days Later…, Hamish in Alice in Wonderland and Trinity in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
He was awarded the Austin Texas Film Festival Best Actor Award in 2006 and the Kimera International Film Festival Best Actor Award in 2007.
More recently Leo starred in BBC drama Taboo alongside top Hollywood talent Tom Hardy (The Revenant, Peaky Blinders, Mad Max: Fury Road) and Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones, Wolf Hall, Pirates of the Caribbean)
Tobias studied Drama at the College from 1993-1994 before going on to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
He is best known for his role as Brutus in HBO’s Rome, Edmure Tully in HBO’s Game of Thrones, and the dual roles of Frank and Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall in STARZ’s Outlander, which earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination.
Jo studied Drama at the College in the 1990s. She played character 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 won ‘Best Dramatic Performance’ and ‘Best On Screen Partnership’ (alongside Jake Wood) at the British Soap Awards 2012.
Parry studied Drama at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 2008 to 2010 before progressing on to earn a BA in Acting for Stage and Media at the University of West London.
Parry made his Television debut on Hollyoaks spin-off Hollyoaks Later in 2013 as Harry Thompson before joining the long-running Channel 4 soap in 2015.
For his role as Thompson, Parry was nominated for best newcomer at the National Television Awards 2016.
Having received news of his nomination, Parry said, “It’s such an honour. I love every second of working on Hollyoaks and there’s such a supportive team here. I couldn’t be more thrilled. I have many great memories of my time at Stratford-upon-Avon College. The teaching I received there helped inspire me to take up acting as a career.”
After graduating from College Ashley went on to train at the London Studio Centre graduating with a BA honours degree in Theatre Dance and a Class A teaching qualification in ISTD.
As an actor he has appeared in several West End Musicals spanning over 10 years including A Chorus Line, Sinatra, We Will Rock You, Love Never Dies, Wizard Of Oz Never Forget as well as the UK Tours of Disney’s Beauty And The Beast, Hello Dolly and 42nd Street.
Ashley has professionally choreographed for BBC Television, Adcan Commercials, Lifetime TV, Selladoor Worldwide, Singapore Repertory Theatre, Live Nation Entertainment, Evolution Productions, Imagine Theatre, Paul Taylor Mills Ltd, Mercury Theatre Colchester, MSC Cruises, First Family Entertainment, Live Nation and Pineapple Dance Studios. He has collaborated with renowned Theater Directors – Jack Plotnick, Seth Rudestsky, Arlene Phillips, Warwick Davis, Luke Sheppard, Daniel Buckroyd, Martin Connor and Richard Fitch.
Ashley has choreographed and taught at some of the most prestigious drama schools in London including The Royal Academy Of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Arts Educational School, Guildford School of Acting, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, London Studio Centre, Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts and the London School of Musical Theatre.
Ashley is now a full time Musical Theatre Jazz Choreographer. He has his own Theatre Jazz Showdance class at the prestigious Pineapple Dance Studio.
Dan studied the BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts – Musical Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 2007 until 2009 before being progressing onto Laine Theatre Arts and after the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
In 2008, Dan appeared in the College’s production of Les Misérables in the role of Marius. Four years later he made his West End debut in Loserville at The Garrick Theatre.
In 2018 Dan appeared in Mamma Mia! Here we go again!
“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!”
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 and performed at MOVEIT2013, in Paris. He also 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.
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.”
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.
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.
In 2014 John joined the acclaimed stage show War Horse.
After studying performing arts at the College John-Robert gained a place at Birmingham School of Acting in 2005 going on to graduate with a first degree in Acting.
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.
John works as a Shakespearian actor at The Shakespeare Birthplace as well as running Tread the Boards Theatre Company based in Stratford-upon-Avon. In 2010 Tread the Boards performed at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival and subsequently won two awards for Best Actor and Best Play.
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. 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.
In 2015 Lauren was cast in the role of Jules in the West End musical Bend It Like Beckham.
(Photograph courtesy of the BBC.)
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 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 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 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 theatre company Animate. 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.
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 studied a National Diploma in Performing Arts at the College from 2000-2002 before going on to study at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.
Nathaniel has starred in a number of West End productions including 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.
Nathaniel went on to found The West End Gospel Choir where he is the Artistic Director.
Sam studied drama at the college before progressing onto a three-year acting course at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and was subsequently cast in 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 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.
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).
Stuart Goldsmith is a comic and actor who studied at drama at Stratford-upon-Avon College from 1994 until 1996.
He played 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 the 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.
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.”
After completing her studies 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 exams.“