Young Edinburgh actors have Wicked time with Kerry Ellis

Aspiring local stage stars from The MGA Academy of Performing Arts in Edinburgh have taken part in a masterclass with one of musical theatre’s biggest icons.

Kerry Ellis, famous for appearing in shows such as Wicked, Cats and We Will Rock You on Broadway and in London’s West End, travelled to Edinburgh to mentor the next generation of stage professionals during a workshop organised by Beyond Broadway Productions.

Left to right: Ariadne Andreou, Rachel Gallagher, Grace Rhatigan, Keziah Grace, Moa Nilsson, Kathryn Clark, Georgia Fordyce, Koren Boomer, Kerry Ellis, Danielle Jones, Sonny Grieveson, Kieran Cooper, Tyla-Jane Fairer, Ashley Sutherland and Piera McGonigal
Left to right: Ariadne Andreou, Rachel Gallagher, Grace Rhatigan, Keziah Grace, Moa Nilsson, Kathryn Clark, Georgia Fordyce, Koren Boomer, Kerry Ellis, Danielle Jones, Sonny Grieveson, Kieran Cooper, Tyla-Jane Fairer, Ashley Sutherland and Piera McGonigal

Eighteen-year-old Sarah Dickson, a former pupil of Portobello High School who is now studying HND Musical Theatre at The MGA Academy, said: “I’m a huge fan of Kerry Ellis so it was amazing to have the opportunity to perform for her and get some advice on how I can improve. She talked to us about how important it is to choose the right songs for auditions and gave us some recommendations, which was really helpful.”

Ashley Sutherland, who attended Craigmount High School before enrolling at The MGA Academy, added: “I loved taking part in the masterclass as Kerry was so lovely and gave us all great feedback. I decided to sing The Fire Within Me from Little Women for her as I want to sing it at auditions so thought it would be a great opportunity to get some advice from her about it.”

The 19-year-old, who has loved performing since she was four years old, continued: “When I finish my training, I’d like to start auditioning for shows in London’s West End. Working with Kerry and hearing about her success has inspired me to really go for it.”

Ellis herself said: “Working with aspiring professional performers is so rewarding for me. I was so impressed with the talent and willingness of The MGA Academy students to get up and perform for me. I loved how enthusiastic and eager to learn they all were.”

Murray Grant, Creative Director of Beyond Broadway Productions, said: “We’ve been working to bring stars like Kerry Ellis, Shoshana Bean and Scott Alan to work with up-and-coming performers for the last ten years. Workshops like these give performers the chance to both work alongside, and gain feedback from, some of the biggest names in the industry.”

The MGA Academy was founded ten years ago, providing a platform for Scottish talent in performing arts to remain in Scotland to obtain accredited SQA training at an equivalent level offered by established London colleges. West End star Fergal McGoff (Mamma Mia, The Bodyguard) and Rebecca Stenhouse (Legally Blonde, Rock of Ages) represent just a couple of success stories from The MGA Academy.

Andrew Gowland, Managing Director of The MGA Academy of Performing Arts, said: “Many of our students go on to secure roles in London’s West End and beyond and workshops like these help prepare them for that.”

On October 24, students from The MGA Academy will have the opportunity to share the stage with renowned New York theatre composer Jonathan Reid Gealt at a one-off concert in Edinburgh.