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Meet The Stage Scholarships winners 2017

Gibsa Bah and Anais Lone. Photo: Alex Brenner Gibsa Bah and Anais Lone. Photo: Alex Brenner

The Stage Scholarships has been running for more than 20 years, helping many hundreds of youngsters follow their dreams, with former winners going on to work in shows ranging from Wicked in the West End to Robert Icke’s production of Oresteia.

Here, we introduce the winners for 2017, aged between six and 24 years old, including a few who have already made their West End debuts.

They represent a selection of the 168 young people who won scholarships in 2017 worth a total of more than £650,000, sponsored by our 10 partner schools.


Masego Makgobe

Read College

Masego Makgobe. Photo: Alex Brenner
Masego Makgobe. Photo: Alex Brenner

Masego Makgobe, 18, from Redbridge, London won The Stage Scholarship to attend the musical theatre one-year foundation course at Read College.

She said: “When I got the call about the scholarship I didn’t believe it at first, it took a while for it to hit me. I saw the talent that was there on the audition day, I felt so grateful to be picked, that they had seen potential in me. I would never have been able to do the course without a scholarship.

“I am enjoying my time at the school so much, I have seen myself improve already in only two months. I want to say thank you to Read and The Stage for believing in me.”

Nina Beckwith, Benjamin Kempton, Joe Churms, Caitlin McNally and Sam Hull

Nina Beckwith, Benjamin Kempton, Joe Churms, Caitlin McNally and Sam Hull. Photo: Alex Brenner
Nina Beckwith, Benjamin Kempton, Joe Churms, Caitlin McNally and Sam Hull. Photo: Alex Brenner

Emil Dale Academy

Herts-based Emil Dale, a new partner for 2017, describes its training courses as “affordable, extreme triple-threat musical theatre”. This year the school has offered one full scholarship on the two-year
Musical Theatre BTec course; one full and two part scholarships for the three-year Musical Theatre diploma course; and one part scholarship towards the one-year foundation Gap Year course.

Sam Hull, 19, from Stevenage in Hertfordshire, won a full scholarship for the diploma course. He said: “When I got the scholarship, I became more confident in my ability, it has made so much difference. I don’t want to say thank you to The Stage just for recognising me, but also for recognising a school like Emil Dale. It may not

have a really big name, but there is nothing small about its passion for the arts.”

Benjamin Kempton, 16, from Berrow in Somerset, won a full scholarship for the two-year course. He said: “Being awarded a scholarship to Emil Dale was a moment I won’t ever forget. I felt so privileged to have been awarded such an opportunity. It feels like it was meant to be. I cannot thank The Stage and the school enough, I would never have been able to pursue my career in this way otherwise.”

Three part scholarships were awarded to:

Nina Beckwith, 18, from Shefford in Bedfordshire (gap year), who said: “I don’t think I would have been able to do this training without the help of Emil Dale and

The Stage. I felt really overwhelmed about the scholarship, because this is all I have ever wanted to do. Words don’t describe how grateful I am for being given the tools to access the path I really want to go down.”

Joe Churms, 18, from Stevenage (diploma), said: “The training is so good, Emil is so passionate about the performing arts, he is always there to help. I feel so lucky I was chosen, it’s so incredible to be recognised, for someone to believe in you.”

Caitlin McNally, 19, from Wootton in Bedfordshire (diploma), said: “It makes such a difference going to a school where you are encouraged to be the best you can be. I can’t even describe how the scholarship has changed life for both me and my mum. I am very grateful.”

Kalila Khan, Ellie-Rose Eames, Eva-Marie Saffrey and Ben Perkins

Kalila Khan, Ellie-Rose Eames, Eva-Marie Saffrey and Ben Perkins
Kalila Khan, Ellie-Rose Eames, Eva-Marie Saffrey and Ben Perkins. Photo: Alex Brenner

Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts

Italia Conti has an impressive history and is regarded as the oldest performing arts training school in the world. A generous offer of four scholarships this year went to Kalila Khan, 12, from Hainault in Essex; Ellie Rose Eames, 12, from Rochester in Kent (who received full scholarships); Eva-Marie Saffrey, 11, from East London, and Ben Perkins, 13, from Tolworth in Kingston upon Thames (who received 75% awards).

Kalila said: “When my mum showed me the letter, I cried with happiness. It had been one of my dreams to go to Italia Conti. I wouldn’t have been able to go without the full scholarship, it is such a wonderful feeling. I am going to do my very best to work really hard, it’s so incredible to have been picked out of all those talented people.”

Ellie Rose already has a couple of West End credits to her name (Billy Elliot, Matilda the Musical). She said: “When I used to wake up for regular school I never used to want to go. I love it now, everyone is so supportive. Thanks to Italia Conti and The Stage for this chance, I promise to work really hard – and enjoy myself!”

Eva-Marie, who has played Matilda in the London production of the musical, commented: “Going to Italia Conti is all I’ve ever wanted. When I got the letter

about the scholarship, it was as good as opening up an invitation from the Queen! Thank you so much to the school and The Stage for picking me.”

Ben (who has performed in both the West End productions of Matilda and Les Miserables) said: “Everyone was so talented at the audition, I was so amazed when I heard the news. Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity and seeing the potential in me.”

Gibsa Bah and Anais Lone

Gibsa Bah and Anais Lone. Photo: Alex Brenner
Gibsa Bah and Anais Lone. Photo: Alex Brenner

Wac Arts

Wac Arts, which has been providing training in the heart of London for 35 years, joined the scholarship scheme in 2016. The then winner – Anais Lone, 17, from London – missed out on the 2016 photoshoot, so she joined us this year, along with the 2017 recipient, 17-year-old Gibsa Bah from Birmingham. Both were offered a full scholarship covering fees for the first year of the school’s three-year professional diploma in musical theatre.

Gibsa, who has turned his back on a potential career in football to pursue his love of performing, said: “I knew I would receive such an all-round training at Wac Arts, but I was shocked when offered the scholarship. I’m not sure I was convinced I was good enough, but I think they saw something in me, and that has made me want it even more. I want to prove to them that they have chosen the right person.”

Anais added: “When I got The Stage Scholarship, I was silent at first, I couldn’t take it in. Then two days later I began to freak out. It felt like a big validation of all my hard work, that people had put their faith in me and wanted to work with me. Thank you to Wac Arts and The Stage for changing my life and me as a person. Without this opportunity I am not sure I would be smiling as much as I am.”

Zef Hudson, Annie Lewis, Amber Holmes, Bethan Martin and Lewyss Banfield

Zef Hudson, Annie Lewis, Amber Holmes, Bethan Martin and Lewyss Banfield. Photo: Alex Brenner
Zef Hudson, Annie Lewis, Amber Holmes, Bethan Martin and Lewyss Banfield. Photo: Alex Brenner

Razzamataz Theatre Schools

Razzamataz Theatre Schools offered 27 awards in The Stage Scholarships scheme for 2017. The winners come from right across the UK and each receives the equivalent of a year’s free part-time study.

Here we meet (left to right): Zef Hudson, 14 (Raz Rayleigh West); Annie Lewis, 17 (Raz Carlisle); Amber Holmes, 12 (Raz Sheffield); Bethan Martin, 14 (Raz Newcastle); and Lewyss Banfield, 14 (Raz Medway).

Zef said: “It was a huge shock when I found out I had won, I was ecstatic. Raz is such an amazing school, everyone’s involved in what is happening. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to go without this amazing scholarship. A huge thank you for this life-changing opportunity.”

Annie said: “I was so shocked when I found out I had won, I was laughing and crying at the same time. In the past I have been quite shy and have tended to take a step back, but now I feel like I’m a force to be reckoned with! Thank you so much, this feels likes it’s an important stepping stone towards my future career in the performing arts.”

Amber added: “When the principal of the school rang me I was amazed. To feel I have won something good, and in the performing arts, has really helped me so much. Massive thanks, I am loving all the new opportunities I am being given.”

Bethan said: “I have been going to Raz for a year, but it would have been hard to continue without the scholarship. It was so hard to believe I had been chosen. I love going because it is a place you can be yourself, no one will judge you, it gives you the confidence to express yourself.”

Lewyss said: “I was speechless when I found out I’d won. It gave me such a confidence boost, as I have only recently discovered performing. It’s allowed me to discover what I want to do in the future.”

Louis Gould, Charlotte Fletcher, Mason Mitchell-Palmer and Charlie Caldarella

Louis Gould, Charlotte Fletcher, Mason Mitchell-Palmer and Charlie Caldarella. Photo: Alex Brenner
Louis Gould, Charlotte Fletcher, Mason Mitchell-Palmer and Charlie Caldarella. Photo: Alex Brenner

Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts

Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts offered 114 awards in The Stage Scholarships scheme for 2017. The winners will each receive the equivalent of a year’s free part-time study.

Four students attended the photoshoot: Louis Gould, 15 (PQA Romford), Charlotte Fletcher, 11 (PQA Bromley), Mason Mitchell-Palmer, 9 (PQA Woodford Green), and Charlie Caldarella, 17 (PQA Windsor).

Louis said: “I am so thankful for the opportunity to have access to such a great school. It was the best moment ever when I found out about the scholarship. The recognition has just made me want to perform even more.”

Charlotte said: “It has done so much for my confidence – before I would never go in front of the camera, but now I am acting different characters and feeling much more positive. A million thank yous to PQA and The Stage.”

Mason said: “I was really surprised to win a

scholarship. I like going to PQA so much and learning about musical theatre, film, comedy and drama. I was struck dumb with amazement, thank you for picking me.”

Charlie added: “I thought I wouldn’t be able to return to PQA for a second year. Thank you to PQA and The Stage for believing in me; lots of students need something like this. It has given me an added support as I go ahead and audition for drama schools.”

Caitlin Garcia, Jessica Helfgott, Tyler Davis, Harry Tunningley, Kate Jevons and Lola Slavnich

Caitlin Garcia, Jessica Helfgott, Tyler Davis, Harry Tunningley, Kate Jevons and Lola Slavnich. Photo: Alex Brenner
Caitlin Garcia, Jessica Helfgott, Tyler Davis, Harry Tunningley, Kate Jevons and Lola Slavnich. Photo: Alex Brenner

Spirit Young Performers Company

First-time partner in The Stage Scholarships scheme, Spirit Young Performers Company offers intensive part-time training courses for six to 18-year-olds. This year, six part-scholarships were on offer for the school’s Performers’ Company and Dance Company programmes.

Caitlin Garcia, 14, from Kent, said: “There were so many amazing people auditioning, it was such a confidence boost to be chosen.”

Jessica Helfgott, 15, from London, said: “The scholarship felt like a really big deal, I was ecstatic. The Stage and all the schools are helping us with our love for the performing arts.”

Tyler Davis, 17, from California, said: “My message to The Stage is to please keep doing this scheme, it provides incredible opportunities for kids and gives them a gateway to keep doing what they are passionate about.”

Harry Tunningley, 15, from Essex, said: “It helped me because I knew the audition had been something that was solely down to me, and it made me think I might be quite good at this, that I was in the right place.”

Kate Jevons, 13, from London, added: “It has made a massive difference to me. I’m going to try my hardest to fully pursue my dreams.”

Lola Slavnich, 13, from Essex, added: “The scholarship has made it possible for me to stay for a second year. All of my friends were staying and I would have missed them so much.”

Naomi Denny and Carla Cuscito

Naomi Denny and Carla Cuscito. Photo: Alex Brenner
Naomi Denny and Carla Cuscito. Photo: Alex Brenner

Fourth Monkey Theatre Company

Twenty-four-year-old Naomi Denny, from Brighton, and Carla Cuscito, 21, from Bari in Italy, won The Stage Scholarships with Fourth Monkey Theatre Company and will receive 50% funding towards attending the two-year rep actor training programme.

Naomi said: “I was originally on Fourth Monkey’s Year of the Monkey course and the school already felt like home. When I found out I had a scholarship place on the two-year programme I just cried. It means so much that the school and The Stage have the belief

in me to achieve what I want to achieve. I would not have been able to follow my dreams without this scholarship, I am so thankful for the support.”

Carla added: “When I finished high school in Italy, I moved to England straight away, it’s where I had wanted to study drama since I was 12 years old. I always get told that performing is not a proper profession, that it won’t get me a job in the future, but The Stage Scholarship at Fourth Monkey has supported me in my passion for pursuing a future career in the industry. All the effort, tears, time missed with my family, everything has been repaid, I am so grateful.”

Charlie Li, Charlie McMaster, Luana Gomes, Amelia Lusted and Ellie Crosby

Charlie Li, Charlie McMaster, Luana Gomes, Amelia Lusted and Ellie Crosby. Photo: Alex Brenner
Charlie Li, Charlie McMaster, Luana Gomes, Amelia Lusted and Ellie Crosby. Photo: Alex Brenner

Barbara Speake Stage School

This is the third year that the Barbara Speake Stage School has been a partner in The Stage Scholarships scheme. In 2017, the school generously offered two full scholarships and five half scholarships.

Amelia Lusted, 10, from Wokingham in Berkshire, won a full scholarship to cover her school fees up to Year 11 (recent credits include the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tour and The Adventures of Pinocchio at the Ambassadors Theatre). She said: “I am really happy and excited that I was chosen out of so many people. I’m very thankful for this amazing opportunity and I hope I can represent Barbara Speake by doing the very best I can.”

Luana Gomes, 12, from London, also won a full scholarship. She said: “I always

want to work on my dance and drama, but at mainstream school some people thought that was a bit weird. I’m so happy to be at Barbara Speake Stage School where I can do that and get a good education as well. Thank you for this support, I am so grateful, it will help me so much in planning for the future.”

Among the part scholarship winners are:

Charlie Li, 12, from Great Dunmow in Essex, who said: “I hadn’t felt my audition had gone well, so I was proud of myself when I got the news. Since then I have felt I need to show people that I am not the shy person I used to be, so I am being more interactive, not the little snail in the shell anymore. If I hadn’t got the scholarship,

I would still be at my old school trying to make my dream a reality. With The Stage and Barbara Speake right behind me, I am really going to work on reaching my full potential.”

Charlie McMaster, 12, from Feltham in Middlesex, said: “Most people at the audition had huge suitcases, but I just had my water bottle and hat! I was excited and nervous at the same time. I have

known since Year 2 that I wanted to act or do anything that was related to acting and now I feel I have found the perfect place.”

Ellie Crosby, 14, from East Yorkshire, said: “At first I thought the letter from

the school was from the dentist. But when I read it, I just sat and cried. To be recognised at something that I have been doing since the age of two made me feel all the working hard had paid off. Thank you so much for opening up a whole new world to me in the big city.”

* Also receiving part scholarships are: Natahlia Colbourne, 11, from Bromley and Mia Hall-Sessions, 11, from Hillingdon in London.

Nicholas Antoniou-Tibbitts

Nicholas Antoniou-Tibbitts. Photo: Alex Brenner
Nicholas Antoniou-Tibbitts. Photo: Alex Brenner

Sylvia Young Theatre School

It’s now a quarter of a century since Sylvia Young Theatre School became involved with The Stage Scholarships scheme, demonstrating Young’s commitment to the nurturing and training of young talent. Over that period, Young and her team have helped more than 70 children to pursue a career in the performing arts through the scholarships scheme.

Nicholas Antoniou-Tibbitts, aged 12, from Hempstead, just outside Saffron Walden in Essex, will attend the Sylvia Young Theatre School full-time until Year 11.

Along his professional credits is the role of Eric in the West End production of Matilda the Musical, and it was between matinee and evening performances of the show that Nicholas discovered he had won The Stage Scholarship: “I was heading back to the theatre when Sylvia Young called to tell me I had won the place and the scholarship. I couldn’t believe it – I was thrilled, excited and happy.

“I had fallen in love with the school after doing a half-term course, but I knew the only way I could go was to get a scholarship. It has made a huge difference. I am really grateful to Sylvia Young and The Stage. I feel so proud they have recognised the potential in me.”


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


The full list of The Stage Scholarships winners

Sylvia Young Theatre School

Nicholas Antoniou-Tibbitts

Read College

Masego Makgobe

Fourth Monkey Theatre Company

Naomi Denny and Carla Cuscito

Wac Arts

Anais Lone and Gibsa Bah

Razzamataz Theatre Schools

Caitlin Meadows, Alexander Smith, Syeda Haniyah Nuha Ahmed, Freya Morse, Molly Jess, Chantelle Daley, Jay Cruickshank, Anna Harris, Bethan Martin, Jessica Stemp, Lucy Ankiah, Cieran Joseph Connor Mckinney, Abbie Hunt, Laila Dore, Dominik Czopek, Ellie Houston, Ella Mulligan, Lewyss Banfield, Byron Sunnucks, Abby Young, Tom Botting, Kelsey Penty, Zef Hudson, Mia Knight, Annie Lewis, Callum Popple and Amber Holmes

Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts

Isobel Inniss, Bethany Wilkinson, Joshua Warden, Charlotte Fletcher, Karson Reynolds, Kian Garvey-Ingham, Owen Cook, Verity Taylor, Evie England, Sophie Stewart, Luke Crabtree, Isabelle Fryer, Kayleen Powis-Wallen, Kiana Wright, Rufus Kampa, Kian Bennett, Holly Musgreave, Natalie Kennedy, Mollie Bush, Emily Obasohan, Evie Price, Alicia Garland, Grace Wardle, Robert Reid, Honey Fenton, Amie Attwood, Rayleigh Watson, Keisha Clarke, April Jay Sherman, Felicity Anstey, Kai Carpani, Kat Causton, Caitlin Leonard-Jones, Josie Thomas, Ava Sawle, Matt Robyns-Landricombe, Georgina Hackett, Jazmin Williams, Charlie Spencer Roeg, Amelie Pang, Edward Flynn Haddon, Charlie Borg, Lily Mcgrath, Ben Charley, Georgia Griffiths, Alicia Richings, Rebekah Rhodes, Jessica Spence, Roli Enonuya, Annette Hannah, Kiera Gladding, Amelie Durose, Katie Reece-Heal, Jennifer Haydney, Charlotte Moys, Rosalina Taylor, Jess Nicholls, Emily Foucher, Louie Sherlock, Rivers Thomas, Tylan Hernandez, Holly Cawsey, Angelis Reece, Preston Shard, Oliver Fraser, Eloise Kite, Ethan Dakin, Tobi Hamilton, Taylor Jackson, Templar Sanders-Wray, Demi Sullivan, Ellie Mason, Afia Forde-Twenewaah, Georgia Greensmith, Lazaruz Zak, Mia Knox, Josh Callaghan, India Thorsby, Shane Eadie, Caitlin Aldridge, Chardannay Kirton, Ocean Down, Lili Schiavone, Briea Saunders, Conner Earley, Ruby Baker, Caitlin Crawley, Jake Dalton, Mia Delaney, Louis Gould, Amelia Taylor, Lewis Cox, Adam Wearn, Scarlett Ward, Elisea Hooper, Edie Layfield, Lily Wilmott, Lyra Lloyd Evans, Brooke Skinner, Hannah Grieg, Madison Secker, Rebecca Todd, Matthew Williams, Jack Roberts, Hayden Polanco, Amianie Terrey, Shannon Barry, Rebecca Barry, Jasmine Cormack, Charlie Caldarella, Ben Holmes, Angel Henson-King, Mason Mitchell-Palmer and Charlie Smart Ben Holmes, Angel Henson-King, Mason Mitchell-Palmer and Charlie Smart

Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts

Kalila Khan, Ellie-Rose Eames, Eva-Marie Saffrey and Ben Perkins

Spirit Young Performers Company

Caitlin Garcia, Jessica Helfgott, Tyler Davis, Harry Tunningley, Kate Jevons and Lola Slavnich

Barbara Speake Stage School

Charlie Li, Charlie McMaster, Luana Gomes, Amelia Lusted, Ellie Crosby, Natahlia Colbourne and Mia Hall-Sessions

Emil Dale Academy

Caitlin McNally, Benjamin Kempton, Joe Churms, Nina Beckwith and Sam Hull


To find out details of The Stage Scholarships 2018, buy the January 4 issue of The Stage

Watch the video of The Stage Scholarships 2017 photoshoot below:

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