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Friday, 10 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Will Haswell



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times. 

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Will Haswell was most recently seen in the original cast of Back to the Future the Musical at the Manchester Opera House. His other credits include Johnny Casino & Cover Danny Zuko in Grease (UK Tour); Ensemble in Sweet Charity (Donmar Warehouse); Ensemble in The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre); Lewis and Cover Joe Casey in Our House (UK Tour); Featured Ensemble in The Braille Legacy (Charing Cross Theatre) Joe Pesci and Cover Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys (Piccadilly Theatre); Pinocchio in Shrek (UK Tour); Ensemble in Anything Goes(Kilworth House); Ensemble and Cover Pepper in Mamma Mia (Prince of Wales and Novello Theatre) and Ensemble in 42st Street Gala (London Palladium).

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was in London at home having driven back from Manchester as I was performing in Back to the Future the Musical. I initially thought that it wouldn't be that long until we would return, however, we were slightly concerned as we were only on for a limited run and we had all worked so hard to get the show up and running and it was such a wonderful company to be a part of. We all didn't really get a chance to say goodbye to each other so it was a bit gutting the thought of not returning to all be together again. 

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

I've luckily been hired as a delivery driver for Sainsbury's so I'm currently driving around South East London delivering people there shopping! It's really lovely being able to help out a bit and for some people it's their only chance to have a little conversation, so it's really great to be able to try and put a smile on somebody's face by having a chat for a few minutes. 

I've also been taking part in a few online fitness classes. Especially 'Bobby's Bakery' getting that Glaze on every day. @Bobalus classes have been brilliant and he's an absolute gent. 
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The Corona Diaries: Paige Miller



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Paige Miller is currently in the London company of The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Her other credits include Shirelle/Lucille in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour) and Chiffon and Dance Captain in Little Shop of Horrors (Theatre Clwyd).

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I found out that they had announced this when I went down to the stage at the Prince of Wales theatre for warm-up. We were due to have a cut show that day so I was looking forward to seeing people doing slightly different things but once I hit stage level and I saw everyone who worked backstage there I knew straight away that this meant we were closing. Initially I was really shocked and upset (I did shed a little tear) because our cast had only been doing the show for 6 weeks and we were having so much fun and still really getting into the show and their audiences. I think at first I was thinking it was only going to be 2 weeks but as the night went on and I said bye to other people in the building I realised that this was going to be a long term thing.

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

I have been using the time to get a lot of things done that I haven't had time to do. I moved into my flat in September last year so I just wanted to finish decorating it and getting things organised that I seriously had been putting off for too long. I have really been trying to stay super active by taking part in some of the Instagram classes that people do too because I can't be going back super unfit. Other than that I have dropped off creatively just because I needed that space for my head but I have recently started getting creative again.
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Thursday, 9 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Alice Fearn



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times. 

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Alice Fearn is currently in the cast of Come From Away as Beverley, Anette and others at the Phoenix Theatre. Her other credits include Elphaba in Wicked (Apollo Victoria Theatre); The Woman in White (Palace); Les Misérables (Sondheim); Awaking Beauty (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough); Annie Get Your Gun (Young Vic); Into the Woods (Regent’s Park); Shrek The Musical (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane); Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Savoy) and Oliver! (Watermill Theatre, Newbury).

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was actually on stage at the Phoenix Theatre. I think we were all expecting it at some point in the coming week but were not expecting it that day. The government announcement that day that all of theatreland will close indefinitely. I was not necessarily shocked, but really saddened. Never had anything like this happened before. For an entire community/industry to be shut down instantly is remarkable and incredibly sad. Theatre is an escape, a place to lose oneself. All were gone in an instant. We all grabbed the nearest bottle of wine we could and raised a glass onstage knowing we would be back just didn’t know when. 

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

Well, I’ve noticed I am better at baking and cooking than I thought I was. I normally don’t have the time or inclination to spend much time in the kitchen but the lockdown has given me nothing but time so I’ve actually found it can be quite enjoyable. We’ve been doing up the house, decorating here and there, fixing things that we’ve been meaning to do for some time. Other than that I have been involved in many online streaming concerts and cabarets that are keeping my creative side working. I’ve even organised a series of concerts for July/August which are an online, live-streaming series called Intermissions. I think we all need to keep theatre and performance alive as best we can during this dark time. It is something people (and myself) can cling to. 
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The Corona Diaries: Ryan Reid




These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Ryan Reid was most recently seen in the West End transfer of City of Angels at the Garrick Theatre. His other credits include Marvin in Sweet Charity (Donmar Warehouse); Curtis Taylor Junior in Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre); Swing, Ensemble and Cover Benny in In The Heights (Kings Cross Theatre); Ensemble and Cover Donkey in Shrek(Original UK Tour); Puss in Boots (Hackney Empire) and Blues in the Night (Hackney Empire).  

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was at The Garrick Theatre sat in the stalls listening to the live announcement over the speaker system with the rest of the City Of Angels cast. We were having rehearsals as we were coming to the end of our previews and heading towards press night. It was soo confusing as Boris wasn’t very clear about the guidelines around the theatre closures as he advised not going to the theatres but didn’t actually close them! 

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

I’ve actually gotten into running, I try to do a 5k every other day. My mum is a keen runner and I thought I would give it a go as this is the perfect time to try something new! I’ve tried to partake in online classes such as Yoga, (which is a lot harder than it looks!) I want to get into reformer Pilates after lockdown. And I also moved house during the ease of lockdown so that has actually kept me pretty busy as productive throughout lockdown!
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Wednesday, 8 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Ashley Luke Lloyd



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Ashley Luke Lloyd was most recently seen in Flashdance as Joe touring South Korea. His other credits include Ensemble in the original London cast of Dreamgirls (Savoy Theatre); John in Jesus Christ Superstar (UK Tour); Ensemble in Legally Blonde (South Korea); Eddie in Mamma Mia (International Tour); Francis & Alvin in Loserville (Garrick Theatre); Michael in the original cast of Billy Elliot (Vicotria Palace) and Troy in Hollyoaks. His Choreographer credits include Burlesque'd Live (Turbine Theatre, Aeronaut, UK Tour); Closer To Heaven (Above the Stag); Oliver (Theatre Royal Windsor); Mad on Her (UK Tour, Above The Arts) and Guy the Musical (UK Tour). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was actually on my last day of choreographing two shows for the incredible Talent Artistic Group. One show is called Sweet Nothing, which is a Calvin Harris Experience opening in Ibiza, and Forever Young, an 80s Jukebox Show. Both shows were on hold however I've just heard the casts have been told that the contracts resume and they will be flying out shortly to perform with socially distanced guidelines. Truly over the moon for them and the company - I felt very lucky because the company was incredibly supportive towards myself as creative and we all kept connected. 

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

I just can't stay still. Ever. When I was in Dreamgirls, my favourite show ever and I can't believe I was in the original cast, whilst in the show at the Savoy with Amber Riley I wrote the book to an 80s show called Mad On Her - we put it on at the Studio Theatre at The Arts in Leicester Square every Sunday and it was amazing! So in Lockdown I've been producing a Reality Dating Show called Lovedown which connects people online via speed dating and house party's we've done two seasons including a special LGBTQ season and honestly the entire casts have stayed friends and some even have a little romance going on- I'm very proud of it, you can check us out on our social media platforms which is FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube - it's quite theatrical actually and you might see some familiar faces. I've also been teaching lots on Zoom which I absolutely love, the kids have been a saving grace to my fitness and they bring a smile to my face and the dedication to keep Training even at a young age is so inspiring. 
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The Corona Diaries: Evie Rose Lane



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Evie Rose Lane will play the role of Ariel in the UK touring production of Footloose. Her other credits include Musical Director for Menstrual Cups (Cabaret); Assistant MD and Musical Supervisor for Songs For Jeremy(Southwark Playhouse); Stove/Dingo Dog & Assistant MD in Just So (Barn Theatre) and Judy in 9 to 5 (Bridewell Theatre). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction?

Well, the timing of when I saw the news has a twinge of irony about it. I’d been due to start rehearsals for the Footloose tour a little less than a week after the day lockdown was announced, and I had just recorded a podcast with (the gorgeous) Andrew for West End Frame that same afternoon. And within that podcast, I think it was the first time I’d allowed myself to finally accept the job as a reality and get truly excited about it, and when it was actually released Andrew had to do a disclaimer before the interview to explain everything. So I found out about the closures and the postponing of the show on a busy train on the way home from the podcast recording, and I had to try and remain cool and calm despite that awful instantaneous flood of sadness and fear for all my friends, for all the shows, for my fellow castmembers. 

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

I gotta say, I wish I’d been more productive than I have been. I did actually have COVID from the end of March and throughout April - it went on and on, I don’t think people, on the whole, realise how persistent and enduring it is - and I think that really drained me of energy for quite some time, creative or otherwise. I’ve taken part in quite a few online concerts, lots of them charity things, which I’m happy to do and I appreciate people asking me. I’ve shared some new material, worked on some new arrangements, but I think there has been that looming sense of obligation over creative people, notably people in our industry, to use this time as productively as possible, which I think has made some folks including myself feel somewhat guilty for not feeling capable of that level of productivity. This situation is clearly both unprecedented and entirely unfamiliar, and at times I think it’s enough just to be coping and keeping on keeping on. 
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Tuesday, 7 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Gleanne Purcell-Brown


These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Gleanne Purcell-Brown was most recently in the UK tour of Curtains, covering the roles of Bambi and Jessica. Her other credits include Bare (The Old Finsbury Town Hall), Sleeping Beauty (Hackney Empire) & Spamalot (Mercury Theatre, Colchester & UK Tour).

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was in warm-up getting ready for our first show at the Leceister Haymarket Theatre with the wonderful cast of Curtains. I remember feeling very anxious as we weren’t sure what was happening with regards to our show that evening. Our show went ahead that evening but it was bittersweet as we all kind of knew that this was probably going to be our last one.

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?

I’ve been getting involved with as many online dance, singing and acting classes and courses that I can, it’s been amazing how our community have come together to provide such a platform that we are able to still train as much as we can at home. I’ve also reignited my love for my instruments (I no longer have the excuse of not having enough time to practise), found my passion for Spanish again and have been really enjoying getting stuck into lots of books. Oh, and check out the Open University website as there are so many free courses to dabble in (had a go at finance, definitely not my forte!) 
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The Corona Diaries: Mitch Leow



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Mitch Leow was most recently seen in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe at the Bridge Theatre. His other credits include Ensemble & Cover Iago in Aladdin (Prince Edward Theatre); Swing in Miss Saigon (Prince Edward Theatre); Swing in Barnum (Chichester Festival Theatre); Swing and Ensemble in The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre); Madam Butterfly (English National Opera); Turandot (Royal Opera House)

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction?

I was in my flat in Bermondsey, actively keeping up to date with the official announcements. I remember hearing the closure of theatres and other venues mentioned, and feeling the air snatched out of my chest. For a moment, I felt nothing. Then, a sense of logic kicked in, and I told myself, “Of course, this is the right thing to do.” But by this time, I had lost my day job and all casting options were halted.
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Monday, 6 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Matthew Croke



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Matthew Croke was most recently seen on the West End playing the title character in Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre. His other credits include Annie Get Your Gun (Crucible, Sheffield), Singin’ in the Rain (Octagon, Bolton/New Vic/Salisbury Playhouse/Palace), Funny Girl (Menier Chocolate Factory), Wicked (Apollo Victoria), West Side Story (UK tour), Chicago (Cambridge), Shall We Dance? (Sadler’s Wells), Grease (Piccadilly) and A Chorus Line (Sheffield Theatres).

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

So away from my performing I run a performing arts school in Sheffield with my Sister so what's been lovely is being able to work closely with her on building our school and obviously working with our students (online). Very grateful to have had that to focus as in the past with me performing so much my sister has basically been doing it on her own! 

There’s so much important information and messages being spread on social media but sometimes it can be quite mentally draining and consume a lot of your time, how have you been looking after your mental state whilst using these platforms?

It's a lot! I take myself away from it and tell myself that it's ok to do so! When I want to post/be more active I am and when I don't, I don't. Some days I use my free time to FaceTime my friends and family and that is the best medicine for me.
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The Corona Diaries: Bernadette Bangura


These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Bernadette Bangura was due to perform in Orfeus: A House Opera at the Young Vic. Her other credits include Consuela in Robin Hood (Sailsbury Playhouse); Soul Girl in Jesus Christ Superstar (Barbican); Rita in 2 Dumb (Rodean Theatre); The Genie in Aladdin (Harlow Playhouse); Marcia in Tainted (The Vaults); Jarene in The Colour Purple (Cadogan Hall); Adriadne in The Frogs (Jermyn Street Theatre) and Brigit in Ragtime (Charing Cross Theatre). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was in the middle of rehearsals for a brand new production of 'Orfeus' A House Opera at the Young Vic. A production I was really looking forward to being a part of.
We were getting ready to start our third week and our artistic director Kwamei Kwei- Armah came in and told us the news that theatres were closing and therefore our production was being postponed. We were in utter disbelief. I was overcome with anger, angry that this had to happen now! But I had to think this hasn't just happened to us this is worldwide.

Rest assured we know this isn't the end of what we have started, we became a real family. Our writer/leading man and director are American so they had to fly back home ASAP also. When they had we all did a zoom chat to keep our spirits high.
I had moved to London temporarily for the show and moved back home within the week of the announcement, after making sure I was well and wasn't displaying any systems. It was very disheartening knowing all the work we put in had been put on hold.

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

It was hard at first to keep motivated when this happened, nothing seemed to be happening, felt like an apocalypse; couldn't go to the gym which would normally be my go-to if I am in-between jobs, it keeps me sane and motivated. I like keeping fit around other people too. As gyms are closed I started taking part in online workouts. Word really does spread on social media, I found one that suits me the best, he's an actor and a personal trainer and does half an hour workouts on Instagram live every day!
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Friday, 3 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Jack Harrison-Cooper



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Jack Harrison-Cooper is currently part of the original West End cast of The Prince of Egypt at the Dominion Theatre, he is in the ensemble and covers the role of Aaron. His other credits include Ensemble and cover George in The Wedding Singer (South Korea); Chistery and cover ‘Boq’ in Wicked (UK & Ireland Tour); Gremio’in Kiss Me, Kate (Théâtre Du Châtelet; Paris and Grand Théâtre; Luxembourg); Warner in Legally Blonde (Daegu Opera House; South Korea); cover Emmett in Legally Blonde (Leicester Curve) and Miss Saigon (Prince Edward Theatre). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I had headed into work as normal and we had all warmed up and completed our lift call which we did before every show, running through every lift to double-check everyone is happy and safe. I knew something was up as every department started to filter onto the stage and this only really happens when there’s big news. Our wonderful producer came on stage also and shared that we were not going to be performing that evening, or for at least a little while. I felt like it was coming anyway as Broadway had shut down only a week before, however, nothing can prepare you for having to pack up your room and travel home. A few of us went to drown our sorrows in a local bar before heading home and not knowing if or when we would ever get the change to do the show again. 

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?

During previews, I completed my L3 Personal Training course and so was fully qualified going into lockdown. I have been holding three classes a week on Instagram, and also now taking on private clients as the government advice has eased up. I am also now part of the magnetic studio's team which is a group of performers and creatives who have come together to provide training and classes so that people all over the world can have access to continue their passion during this time. 
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The Corona Diaries: Kelly Agbowu



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Kelly Agbowu is currently in the London cast of Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre. Her other credits include Nurse Norma/cover Becky in Waitress: The Musical (Adelphi); Lion in The Wizard of Oz (Birmingham Rep); swing in The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales); May in Baddies: The Musical (Unicorn); swing and cover Shenzi in The Lion King (UK/international tour); Sue, Caroller and soloist in Rent (Greenwich); Essie in Parade (Southwark Playhouse) and Townsperson in The Human Comedy (Young Vic).

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

For some strange reason, I got to the theatre really early and was just chilling in the dressing room. My other dressing room ladies also seemed to come in slightly earlier than usual and so we were all just discussing what had happened on Broadway and speculating what would happen with us when we were told that Warm-up was cancelled and to come on stage for a meeting. We knew in that second that was it. Once we were told we all gathered in the boys dressing room for a farewell drink and then I packed up some of my stuff from my room and went home. At that point like everyone, I didn’t know how long this would be for and so have left a lot of stuff at work including my contact lens! Hopefully I can get them at some point.

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

I have been learning sign language via an online course. It’s something I’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time and now I’ve got bags of free time so it’s been great. I just wanted to be able to have gained something out of this lockdown period so I didn’t feel like I had personally wasted it. I’ve also reconnected with my love of knitting.
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Thursday, 2 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Tom Hier



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Tom Hier is the Co-Director of Musical Theatre Virtual. His credits include Prince Charming/Policeman in CinderELLA: The Musical (Nuffield Southampton); Jack in The Dreamers (Abbey Road Studios); Matt in Bare: A Pop Opera (The Vaults, London); Miss Saigon (UK Tour); Chuck Cranston in Footloose (UK Tour) and 1st cover Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK tour).

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was in my flat in London and at that point, my reaction was, "Wow, really? I can't believe that". It felt like early days in the whole pandemic then, and I guess in a selfish way, until then it seemed like an issue that I was (thankfully) disconnected from. Not that I wasn't already taking precautions, because as a household we were, but I guess it was the first moment where I realised "Hm, this is going to be worse than we thought".

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

I've actually been very productive. Aside from my acting career, I've always loved teaching. For the last three years in between and during jobs, I've been coaching prospective drama school students and aspiring actors; facilitating them on their path of becoming an actor. Thankfully, I was already doing a lot of this coaching online, so the shift to online format was a relatively smooth one. 

A couple of weeks into lockdown, things were getting busy, and I decided to merge companies with a great friend of mine, Ryan O'Gorman, to form 'Musical Theatre Virtual' (insta, facebook, twitter, website, check us out!). Since then it's been all-consuming, in a good way. I've learnt so much & it's given me a schedule to work around - something I'm really thankful. We've got a long way to go, but we want to become the ultimate facilitator for aspiring actors on their journeys, and I think we'll get there! 
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The Corona Diaries: Laura Pick



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Laura Pick is currently playing the role of Elphaba in the London production of Wicked after having previously been the stand by for the role. Her other credits include Dr Osgood and featured ensemble in Anyone Can Whistle (Union Theatre); understudy Maria in The Sound of Music (Regent’s Park); So This Is Christmas (UK tour) and chorus for The Songs of My Life: An Evening with Peter Polycarpou (Garrick).

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was on stage, GREEN when I found out. I don’t believe the closure had been decided until I was already halfway through make-up and everyone needed to be informed at the same time. Obviously we were devastated, but we knew it was coming. Helen (Glinda) and I really felt it on the Saturday before and had quite an emotional For Good. Bless my mum had even come down on the 16th to see the show because she was worried it might be the last opportunity for a while, just a few days too late.

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

I found it really hard to get motivated initially, felt so surreal and just kept hoping this wouldn’t go on for, well, as long as it has. I have done quite a few online concerts and Q & A’s, they have been fun, I was also involved with the In the Wings YouTube series, it was so great to be a part of something so fresh and new and was certainly the closest thing to a live performance we have had in a while. With regards to new talents, I am getting pretty good on Call of Duty on the PlayStation, never thought that would be my thing, but here we are. Also been very busy with my puppy, Colin the Chinese Crested Powderpuff, he is amazing. 
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Wednesday, 1 July 2020

The Corona Diaries: Emmanuel Kojo




These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Emmanuel Kojo was most recently seen as Jud Fry in Oklahoma! at the Chichester Festival Theatre. His other credits include Reverend Murdo in Loca Hero (Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh); Ensemble & Alternate Joe Scott in Girl From The North Country (Noel Coward Theatre); Sir Lionel in Camelot (London Palladium); Ike Skidmore in Oklahoma! (Royal Albert Hall); Curio/Drag in Twelfth Night (National Theatre); Joe in Show Boat (Sheffield Crucible & New London Theatre); Gremio in Kiss Me, Kate (Opera North) and Clarence & Understudy Haywood Patterson in The Scottsboro Boys (Young Vic & Garrick Theatre). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I think I was with my ex/then-girlfriend and we saw it all announced and I remember feeling like I was in a black mirror episode and I obviously initially made lots of jokes about how our lives have seriously become a black mirror episode, not realising the impact this was going to have on my life. It was all very surreal. 

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

I will be honest, it started rough with a break up with my girlfriend who at the time I thought was the love of my life, and then with the help of my friends who took me in and loved me, I turned to therapy and mentorship and guidance and it changed my entire life, physically and mentally.  

Since the beginning of lockdown, I have lost 3.5 Stones, I haven't felt this physically fit since second year at drama school, and therapy and couple books have transformed my mental health, from feeling like I had lost everything to finding so much in this bleak time. Cry Like A Man by Jason Wilson & The Four Agreements The Toltec Wisdom, and in have just started Gary Zukavs Seat Of The Soul. Life-Changing Reading. 

I am very grateful for this pause in life as I have greatly benefited from it, but that's all down to perspective and wanting to not waste this time but come out of this prepared and ahead of the game and ready to go.
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The Corona Diaries: Hannah Ducharme


These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Hannah Ducharme is currently in the West End premiere of Pretty Woman in the Ensemble and covering the role of Kit De Luca. Her other credits include Scaramouche in We Will Rock You (Royal Caribbean); First Cover Sloane in Bat Out of Hell (Dominion Theatre); Spirit of the Dance (International Tour) and The Rat Pack, Dancing Queen & Broadway! (US & European Tours). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I will start by saying that the week before this statement there had been a different announcement which 'advised strongly' the cease of going to theatres, restaurants and entertainment venues in general. I watched this live on my phone as I was making my way into the Piccadilly Theatre. This frightened me as there was little assurance that we as an industry would be taken care of.

When I got into the theatre, the dressing room and the warmup on stage were a buzz of what had been stated on the news. By the end of the warm-up, we were told to stay back and were told that following the gov announcement, we were not going ahead with the performance and would close for the foreseeable future. 

I was due to go on for my cover role for the first time the following week, so missed the chance to perform in front of a live audience. Luckily, just the week before was my first cover run, which was fantastic. I went home, had a little cry and a very big glass of wine and tried to poise myself for the coming weeks.

I always try to air on the side of positivity, so initially I really didn't think that it was going to be too bad. I tried to convince myself that it would last a couple of weeks, I didn't think it would continue on to this extent.

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

Well this one is easy! I am very lucky to live with a very close friend, Will Joy - my MD from We Will Rock You - and early on, we decided to start a daily Livestream, performing a song-of-the-night on Facebook and YouTube. Be it Musical Theatre, Country, Jazz, Pop, Disney or even Fisney! (fake Disney) It's been fantastic fun for us. 
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Tuesday, 30 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Luke McCall


  
These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Luke McCall is currently in the London company of Les Miserables at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. His other credits include Feuilly/understudy Enjolras and Jean Valjean in Les Misérables (Queen’s); swing/understudy Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s Theatre); Llew in Man of La Mancha (Coliseum) and Charles Lightoller in Titanic: The Musical (international tour). Luke is the youngest person ever to play both the roles of the Phantom and Jean Valjean in the West End.

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was in my dressing room at the Sondheim. There was speculation that something was happening, but we didn’t know what. We were told there would be no warm-up and that we had a full company meeting on stage. Once we found out the show wasn’t going ahead, we gathered in one of the dressing rooms and had a drink. Little did we know it would be our last one together for a long time. 

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

Luckily thanks to the outdoor exercise rule, I’ve been using the time to run as much as I can and improve my running times. I have also been trying to improve my instrument playing, piano and guitar mainly. And I’ve read so many books! We (the cast) also have 2 meetings a week where we do Yoga on a Thursday and HIIT on a Sunday via Zoom, so it’s lovely to catch up with everyone on a weekly basis!
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The Corona Diaries: Sia Kiwa



These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Sia Kiwa most recently appeared in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre Her other credits include Ensemble in The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre); Myhrinne in Lysistrata (Watford Palace); Soul Girl in Jesus Christ Superstar (Arena Tour); Flashdance (Shaftsbury Theatre); Peaches in Hairspray (Shaftsbury Theatre); Elizabeth in Dirty Dancing (Aldwych Theatre); Nehebka in Aida (European Tour) and Ensemble in The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was getting ready to go up to Manchester to start filming the next day which subsequently got cancelled. I was shocked, I’d not long left Tina the musical and the new cast was supposed to start on the Tuesday. I was gutted for all of my friends.

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

For me, I have 2 children and had just finished my maternity leave so it was a great opportunity to spend quality time with all the family at home and I thought also a good time to brush up on skills. I started learning and honing some accents. I’ve also been learning 3 languages Spanish, German and Dutch!

It sounds ambitious but I’d learnt some Spanish at school so wanted to continue learning, I worked in Germany for 1.5yrs so also wanted to perfect that and my fiancée’s brother lives in Holland and the language is a bit of a hybrid of English and German so I started that too although I’m starting to get confused now, but I’m still going with it. I’ve also done some fitness classes online there is so much about at the moment.
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Monday, 29 June 2020

The Corona Diaries: Debbie Kurup


These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

Debbie Kurup is currently playing Queen Tuya in The Prince of Egypt at the Dominion Theatre. Her other credits include Blues in the Night (Kiln); Sweet Charity (Donmar Warehouse); Girl From The North Country (The Old Vic/Noël Coward); The Threepenny Opera (NT); Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes (Sheffield/UK Tour); Nikki Marron inThe Bodyguard - (Adelphi); Velma Kelly in Chicago (Cambridge/Adelphi); Sister Act (London Palladium); Oliver! (Cyprus); I Love You Because (Landor); East (Leicester Curve); West Side Story (Prince of Wales); Tonight’s The Night (Victoria Palace); Rent (Prince of Wales/UK Tour); Fame (UK Tour); Guys And Dolls (Sheffield); Pal Joey (Chichester); Poison (Tricycle); Boogie Nights (Savoy). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I had travelled into work and was getting ready for the show at the (Dominion) theatre. We were called down to warm up as per usual but then our lovely producer gave an emotional speech saying the show wouldn't be going ahead that night or for the foreseeable future. I was really sad but wasn’t surprised at all. Broadway went dark the week before and it was only a matter of time before the West End did too. My husband (who was working on Back to the Future -the Musical) was on his way to watch me in The Prince of Egypt. He found out shortly after that his show was closing too. I packed up some of my dressing room stuff and we sat in utter shock on the drive home. We were home and drowning our sorrows by 8.30pm.

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing? 

I’ve created my own YouTube cookery channel "Kurup’s Kitchen” (Please subscribe!)
I was spending so much time in the kitchen anyway so thought I’d be creative and set something up to inspire and entertain others. And even if you’re not into food, I sing the odd song for you now and again with my husband accompanying me on piano.
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The Corona Diaries: John Owen-Jones


These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we've faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and share some peoples experiences because we are all in this together. Each day we'll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share their experiences with you all so take a read and see how people are getting through these hard times.

Let's stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!

*Some information mentioned in this article may be out of date due to the progress of the current situation. Please keep that in mind when reading* 

John Owen-Jones most recently played Jean Valjean in the concert production of Les Miserables at the Gielgud Theatre, a role he previously has played on Broadway, in Dubai, on tour in the UK and in the West End at the Queen's and Palace Theatres. His other credits include Burrs in The Wild Party (The Other Palace); Tiger Bay (Wales Millennium Centre); Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd (London Coliseum); The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (International Tour & Her Majesty's Theatre); Gaylord Ravenal in Showboat (Royal Albert Hall); Much Ado About Nothing & The Pirates of Penzance (Regent's Park, Open Air Theatre); A Little Night Music (National Theatre); The Merchant of Venice (Harrogate Theatre) and The Sound of Music, The Hypochondriac & Le Medecin Volant (West Yorkshire Playhouse). 

On Monday 16th March 2020, The Society of London Theatre announced the closure of all Theatres in London. This followed suit with regional venues. Where were you when you found out and what was your initial reaction? 

I was at home - like most other people! I was surprised and annoyed it took so long to do the obvious thing especially after Broadway had already closed. The safety of the audiences and the people who work in the industry was paramount and I don’t think it was done soon enough. It wasn’t the producers’ fault though as they were being led by the government and were not given any clear guidance. I think the government badly handled the whole thing to begin with, as they seemed to want to protect the insurance companies before protecting the theatre world and all involved in it. I just hope that the huge economic and spiritual contribution that the arts bring to the UK is recognised by this government before it’s too late, and they start to help the many, many people who work in theatre who are suffering economic hardship as a result of the pandemic. Theatres will close and jobs will be lost as a result of what has happened, but we have to protect what we can and try to rebuild what is lost as soon as possible. 

Can you tell us anything productive you’ve been doing?

Well, I’ll be honest here and say I haven’t really done much workwise. I did film one streaming concert from my living room with Lambert Jackson productions as part of their Leave a Light On series. I can cook, decorate, do DIY and gardening like most people but unfortunately both my parents passed away within the last two months (neither covid19 related), and this has, of course, usurped all other things in my life recently. 
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