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The Stage Scholarships 2016

Hannah Digby, Lucy Dewhurst from Redroofs. Photo: Alex Brenner                    Scholarship winners Hannah Digby, Lucy Dewhurst from Redroofs. Photo: Alex Brenner

The Stage recently caught up with a whole range of our past scholarship winners who have found success across West End shows, national tours, TV, commercials and cruise work, as well as creating their own theatre companies.

Now it’s time to introduce this year’s winners: 139 new talents, aged between six and 23 years old, who have an extra reason to celebrate this Christmas. They’re on the road to accomplishing their dreams – a career in the performing arts – having won scholarships sponsored by 13 schools and worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Time, then, to congratulate a selection of our winners by inviting them along to a special photoshoot at the Lost Theatre in south-west London. Thanks to Mark Magill and all the team at the Lost Theatre in Wandsworth for making us welcome.

Joseph Malana and Megan Thompson-O’Connor

Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama

Joseph Malana and Megan Thompson-O’Connor. Photo: Alex Brenner

MADD – now in its sixth year as a partner – offered two full scholarships for the school’s three-year professional musical theatre diploma to Megan Thompson-O’Connor, 18, from Rutland in Leicestershire, and Joseph Malana 19, from Manchester.

Joseph said: “When I found out about the scholarship I cried, I just didn’t know what to do with myself. It has made me want to work harder to fulfil the promise MADD and The Stage have seen in me and not let anyone down. I realise I have been given an opportunity that others would die for. I will forever be grateful for this chance.”

Megan added: “I was so surprised that I got a place at MADD, never mind winning the scholarship as well. It has already given me more confidence and allowed me to feel that I might have a future in this profession. I would never have been able to go if I hadn’t got the award. I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity, I feel so lucky and happy.”

* For the first time this year, MADD also offered a full scholarship for the college’s foundation musical theatre course. The winner is Olivia Haslam, 16, from Worksop in Nottinghamshire.

Donal Brennan

CPA Studios

Donal Brennan. Photo: Alex Brenner

Donal Brennan, 23, from Howth in Dublin, Ireland, has won The Stage/CPA Studios Scholarship, and is attending the three-year, full-time musical theatre diploma course. CPA is part of Colin’s Performing Arts Group.

Donal said: “I had always wanted to train in London but I didn’t know how I would be able to raise the funds to enable me to go.

“It took a while for the news of the scholarship to sink in. I couldn’t believe it. Being picked has given me a confidence in my abilities – I know there are things I need to work on, but it means so much to me that CPA believes I have a strong talent. The scholarship has been life-changing for me.”

Hannah Rachael Scott

The Big Act

Hannah Rachael Scott. Photo: Alex Brenner

Hannah Rachael Scott, 19, from Middlesbrough, has won The Stage Scholarship at Bristol-based The Big Act and will be attending the school’s three-year musical theatre diploma course.

Hannah said: “I felt really overwhelmed when I was told about the scholarship and privileged to be chosen from so many talented people. I didn’t think it would be possible for me to pursue this kind of training. All the teachers at The Big Act are dedicated to helping students be the very best they can be. I would like to thank The Big Act and The Stage for supporting me in getting closer to my dream.”

Markeisha Muir

D&B School of Performing Arts

Markeisha Muir. Photo: Alex Brenner

Markeisha Muir, 20, from Wakefield, will attend D&B’s full-time musical theatre course.

Markeisha said: “I had taken on four jobs, and my mum was doing two, in order to fundraise for my training. I didn’t believe it when I was awarded the scholarship, I couldn’t speak.

“It’s so amazing that a young person like me from a deprived background can get such an opportunity. I still get a lump in my throat when I think about what has happened. I can’t thank D&B and The Stage enough. It has changed my life.”

Hannah Digby, Lucy Dewhirst and Tallulah McDonagh

Redroofs School For The Performing Arts

Hannah Digby, Lucy Dewhirst. Photo: Alex Brenner

Tallullah McDonagh. Photo: Alex Brenner

Redroofs has awarded one full and two half scholarships as part of this year’s The Stage Scholarships scheme.

This year Talullah McDonagh, 11, from Bracknell, has won a full award, while 11-year-old Hannah Digby, from Northampton, and 12-year-old Lucy Dewhirst, from Halifax, have won 50% scholarships.

Talullah, who has won national awards for her dancing, said: “For a few weeks I couldn’t believe I had won the scholarship, it seemed like a dream. It is so amazing to have been given this opportunity to do what I love every day.”

Hannah has already started her professional career in a number of productions at the Royal  and Derngate in Northampton. She added: “I was just ecstatic when I found out the news about the scholarship, it was a big confidence boost. It made me feel like I really had some talent, that performing wasn’t just a hobby and I had a chance in this industry. Huge thanks to Redroofs and The Stage, they have really made my dreams come true.”

Lucy is appearing as one of the Ballet Girls in the national tour of Billy Elliot. She said: “When I was told about the scholarship, I couldn’t believe I had been chosen. A huge thank you to The Stage and Redroofs for giving me the opportunity to live my dream.”

Ashton Henry-Reid

Sylvia Young Theatre School

Ashton Henry-Reid. Photo: Alex Brenner

Dedication to the nurturing and training of young talent has been reflected in the Sylvia Young Theatre School’s involvement with

The Stage Scholarships. Over the space of 24 years, Young and her team have helped more than 70 children to pursue a career in the performing arts via the scheme.

Ashton Henry-Reid, age 11, from south-west London, already has a number of professional credits to his name (Matilda the Musical, Bugsy Malone) and has just finished a run in The Lion King at the Lyceum
Theatre. He will attend the Sylvia Young Theatre School full-time for five years.

He said: “As soon as I started going to Sylvia Young part-time I really wanted to be there all the time. I was overwhelmed when I found out about the scholarship; I was out with my family and we all burst into tears! I don’t think it dawned on me that I was going full-time until I went to get my uniform. Thank you for making all of this possible and for allowing me to reach my full potential at a school I love.”

Emma Hutchings

Read College

Emma Hutchings. Photo: Alex Brenner

Emma Hutchings, 19, from Kingsteignton, Devon, has won The Stage full scholarship to attend the acting one-year foundation course at Read College in Reading.

Emma said: “Everyone at my audition was so talented, I thought they were all deserving of the scholarship. I am so humble and grateful that I have received the award. It means I can focus on my training and fully dedicate myself to it.

“I am going to try my hardest to build on the opportunity and show people I can succeed in this industry. It’s so great that The Stage and Read College are doing this for me. I want to send them a massive thank you.”

Jade Amber Shepheard and Jazz Brown

Fourth Monkey Theatre Company

Jade Amber Shepheard and Jazz Brown. Photo: Alex Brenner

Twenty-one-year-old Jazz Brown, from Battersea in south London, and Jade Amber Shepheard, 21, from Whitstable in Kent, have won The Stage Scholarships at Fourth Monkey Theatre Company, and will receive 50% funding towards attending the two-year rep actor training programme.

Jazz said: “I was looking for a school that would push me mentally and physically, that would embrace my differences, and I fell in love with the ethos at Fourth Monkey straight away. The company celebrates your uniqueness and refines that, makes that credible. Winning the scholarship has been the validation I needed. I want to thank The Stage and Fourth Monkey for believing in my artistry. I feel elated.”

Jade added: “I loved the idea of creating my own work, so when I discovered I could train as part of an ensemble company rather than on a traditional training course, I knew Fourth Monkey was where I needed to be. Without the scholarship I couldn’t have undertaken training like this and it has given me the confidence that this is a career I could be successful in. Thank you so much for the opportunity.”

Jeremiah Waysome, Layla Heath and Ruby Donovan

Barbara Speake Stage School

Jeremiah Waysome, Layla Heath, Ruby Donovan. Photo: Alex Brenner

It’s the second year the Barbara Speake Stage School has been a partner in The Stage Scholarships scheme. In 2016 the school generously offered one full scholarship and seven part scholarships.

Layla Heath, 11, from Hounslow, London, has won a scholarship to cover her school fees up to year 11. Layla said: “My mum and I were at the shops when she told me I had a place at Barbara Speake and I had won the scholarship. I just started to cry and the next day I was still shaking. It means so much that they liked me and they want me to succeed in this world. I am so thankful, it’s hard to come up with words to describe how I feel.”

The seven part scholarship winners include Jeremiah Waysome, 10, from Canning Town, London, and Ruby Donovan, 9, from Middlesex.

Jeremiah has already played Young Simba in The Lion King tour and is appearing as Young Lola in the West End production of Kinky Boots. He said: “I had always wanted to go to drama school and it has made a massive difference attending Barbara Speake. I feel so honoured and happy. I am so delighted to have joined this new school, it’s the best thing of my life. The added confidence has really given me a boost, I didn’t know whether I could hit the high notes at the Kinky Boots audition but I decided to go for it!”

Ruby has already appeared in two productions in the West End – Annie and Elf, plus she recently worked for two weeks on the set of the new Mary Poppins movie. She said: “I told my mum I wanted to go to a drama school but I knew it might be difficult to pay for it. It means the whole world to me to be part of the school now. I am so excited to have got the scholarship.”

Olivia Lauter, Charlie Clark, Charlie Kennedy, Sarah Jane McKeown and Megan Flower

Razzamataz Theatre Schools

Olivia Lauter, Charlie Clark, Charlie Kennedy,  Sarah Jane McKeown and Megan Flower. Photo: Alex Brenner

Razzamataz Theatre Schools founder and principal Denise Hutton-Gosney offered 18 awards in The Stage Scholarships scheme for 2016. The winners from across the UK each receive the equivalent of a year’s free study.

Here we meet (left to right): Olivia Lauter, 14 (Raz Paisley); Charlie Clark, 12 (Raz Barnet); Charlie Kennedy, 17 (Raz Medway); Sarah Jane McKeown, 9 (Raz Dumfries); and Megan Flower, 16 (Raz Carlisle).

Megan said: “Raz creates such a big, friendly community and there are so many opportunities. In one week recently I appeared in the West End, had my photo in The Stage newspaper and took part in the Leeds International Film Festival. I couldn’t believe I was picked for the scholarship, there is so much talent in the Sheffield group. I struggled before with my confidence, but this has given me such a boost.”

Olivia said: “Being part of Raz is like being in a big family. I couldn’t believe I had won the scholarship; it made me feel like other people had noticed how much I enjoy the classes and that they think I am good at performing. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.”

Charlie Kennedy said: “There is such a relaxed atmosphere at Raz but the teachers are so professional too. New and interesting people come and go and you become close to everyone. I felt very proud to win the schoarship and it proved to me that committing to something can really pay off.”

Sarah Jane added: “I was so excited to come to the photoshoot and meet all the other winners. The scholarship has made me feel better about myself and given me extra confidence too.”

Kyle Stevens and Jessica Lowery

Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts

Kyle Stevens, Jessica Lowery. Photo: Alex Brenner

Italia Conti has an impressive history and is regarded as the oldest performing arts training school in the world. Becoming part of that history are Jessica Lowery, 12, from Hull, and Kyle Stevens, 13, from Bromley in Kent.

Kyle, who has already appeared in the London cast of Matilda the Musical, said: “I got bullied at my previous school so the opportunity to go to the excellent Italia Conti and do something I really love meant the world to me. I felt so exhilarated and excited. A huge thank you to Italia Conti and The Stage – being at the school is going to open up so many opportunities.”

Jessica said: “I was just so overwhelmed when I found out I was going to Italia Conti, I didn’t think it was real. The academic side of the school is amazing and I am learning so much about how to act and sing. All my friends are different but we have so much in common. A big thank you and a round of applause to my school and The Stage.”

Isobel Inniss, Aimee Krubally, Ellie Loveridge, Kayleen Powis-Wallen and Shannon Bury

Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts

Isobel Inniss, Aimee Krubally, Ellie Loveridge, Kayleen Powis-Wallen and Shannon Bury. Photo: Alex Brenner

PQA has offered 97 awards in The Stage Scholarships scheme for 2016. The winners from across the UK will each receive the equivalent of a year’s free study. Five students attended the photoshoot: Isobel Inniss, 12 (PQA Maidenhead), Aimee Krubally, 11 (PQA Windsor), Ellie Loveridge, 8 (PQA Richmond), Kayleen Powis-Wallen, 10 (PQA Amersham) and Shannon Barry, 13 (PQA Watford).

Isobel: “For the Raz teachers to look at my acting and singing and choose me means so much; it’s such a privilege that they want to support me.”

Aimee: “I couldn’t believe I had been chosen out of everyone. It has made a big difference to myself and my family.”

Ellie: “I love being at PQA, it’s a place where you can be yourself. I have a heart problem and have had to spend a lot of time going to hospital. I can be a different person at PQA, it’s where I’m happiest. It feels like I can achieve my dreams there.”

Kayleen: “I used to be embarrassed about performing in front of people, but now I have the confidence to do that. I wouldn’t have been able to continue at PQA without this boost, so thank you.”

Shannon: “Without this opportunity, I wouldn’t be able to consider half the things I would like to pursue in the future.”

The full list of The Stage Scholarships winners

Barbara Speake Stage School
Jeremiah Waysome, Layla Heath, Ruby Donovan, Freddie Santry, Rhianna Jackson, Nataiya Gardner,
Tiger-Anais Villafana, Samuel Willis

The Big Act
Hannah Rachael Scott

CPA Studios
Donal Brennan

D&B School of Performing Arts
Markeisha Muir

Fourth Monkey Theatre Company
Jazz Brown, Jade Amber Shepheard

Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts
Jessica Lowery, Kyle Stevens

Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama
Megan Thompson-O’Connor, Joseph Malana, Olivia Haslam

Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts

Aimee Krubally, Annette Hannah, Cory Jenkins, Isobel Inniss, Josh Cockeram-Paranavitana, Kayleen Powis-Wallen, Liberty Gill, Mia Catton, Maria Thorpe, Sarinna Proudfoot-Mathurin, Marjolaine Demaude, Lucy Kilfara, Ben Cogan, Harry Walters, Daisy Clarke, Valencia Thomas, Kian Bennett, Nicole Footitt, Phoebe Venn, Evangeline Barnby, Scott Crombie, Evie Devlin, Joe Knight, Keisha Clarke, Holly Hughes, April Sherman, Alfie Coulstock-Cockeram, Sophie Morgan, Ruby Caballero-Roff, Ava Sawle, Matthew Robyns-Landricombe, Charlie-Spencer Roeg, Amelie Pang, Summer Bryan, Ben Charley, Alicia Richings, Caitlin McCarthy, Rebecca Nesham, Roli Enonuya, Courtney-Jayde Sanasi Smith, Jennie Harrison, Amelie Durose, Nickeem Slater, Shannon Nelson, Kassia Bannister, Cameron Batchelor, Preston Shard, Oliver Fraser, Jessica Frost, Kian Garvey-Ingham, Leah Davis-Tweedale, Libby Morris, Niamh Washington, Shannon McCarthy, Taylor Jackson, Kieran Smith, Ben Winthrop, Dawn Hardcastle, Shane Eadie, India Thorsby, Chloe Dring, Grace Foster, Caitlin Aldridge, Daisy O’Donnell, Phoebe Underwood, Ruby Baker, Ellie Loveridge, Ella Bulpin, Grace Wayne, Tia Nuttall, Ethan Sweeney-Chisholm, Katie Hiscocks, Millie Gallagher, Caitlin Shaw, Ellie Bullivant, Katie Tomkins, Millie Stanway, Verity Taylor, Lucy Richmond, Brooke Skinner, Lyra Lloyd-Evans, Gabriella Songui, Abigail Garland, Lauren Forrester, Ella Kahan-Taylor, Liam Bell, Lucinda Hurt, Molly Mahy, Josh Evans, Mai Li Yap, Rebecca Barry, Shannon Barry, Sadie Burns, Lily Halls, Mason Mitchell-Palmer, Jaia Genet, Megan Taylor

Razzamataz Theatre Schools
Lewis Logie, Jamie-Lou Young, Jessica Emms, Ellie Peck, Kiera Stobie, Paul Hodder, Megan Flower, Annabelle Majin, Abby Turnbull, Mollie Beveridge, Alexia Thorp, Grace Pryor, Neve Cornford, Sarah Jane McKeown, Charlie Clark, Olivia Lauter, Grace Addy, Olivia Wigham

READ College
Emma Hutchings

Redroofs School for the Performing Arts
Hannah Digby, Lucy Dewhurst, Talullah McDonagh

Sylvia Young Theatre School
Ashton Henry-Reid

Wac Arts
Anais Lone
*Anais, 16, from London, will be attending next year’s photoshoot.

Photos: Alex Brenner
Video: Phil Matthews
Make-up: Rosie Barrett
Scholarships editor: Lisa Martland
Photoshoot coordinator: Paul Vale

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