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Sunday, 26 December 2021

Pocket Picks: Our top Pantomimes of 2021!


Pantomime is one of the greatest British festive traditions, bringing so many people to theatres; some for the first time and some as a yearly tradition. We look back at some of the pantomimes we've reviewed here at Pocket so far this year and pick out some of the highlights! But even though we're choosing our favourites, we must send our admiration to all those involved in theatre across the UK, whether in a panto or anything else. With closures happening all over due to the pandemic yet again, it has reminded us how privileged we are to get to experience the joy that is live theatre. So keep supporting your local venues, and go see a panto!



"...this year we’ve got a couple of proper names in the always good value, Bonnie Langford and Lee Mead. Along with Myra Dubois as the wicked fairy, Lloyd Hollett as Muddles, the Court Jester, Claudillea Holloway as the princess and Joelle Moses as the Queen, this combination proves to be the best overall cast I can recall." 


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Wednesday, 10 November 2021

It's Behind You! Pocket Size Theatres Pantomime Preview 2021


The Pantomime website ITSBEHINDYOU.COM - The Magic of Pantomime diary lists around 250 professional pantomimes around the country this year, after last year pandemic disrupted year which shut the few Pantomimes that actually opened soon in their runs, so there is certain to be a show near you. This family Christmas treat will hopefully bounce back bigger and better than ever (Oh Yes it will) and give the families a much-needed, feel-good uplift around Christmas. How do you choose which to go to? The obvious choice is the one nearest to your family but if you are willing to travel a little further there are many excellent shows that will make the journey worthwhile. 

Look for past winners of the Pantomime Awards or well-known stars who you or your children like or choose the larger venues where the on-stage budgets are bigger and the shows more spectacular. Many of the smaller venues still produce great shows on a fraction of those budgets. There are so many to pick from but here are some of my personal favourites from around the country.

In Scotland, the King's Theatre in Edinburgh has Sleeping Beauty with the irrepressible Allan Stewart as Auntie May and the King's Theatre in Glasgow has Cinderella with Elaine C Smith (past winner of Best Fairy 2018). Both venues are past winners of Best Pantomime in 2019. These two shows revolve entirely around these two Scottish pantomime superstars.
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Thursday, 24 June 2021

COMING HOME: Richard Meek, opening in the UK tour of Hairspray

Pocket Size Theatre and Liza Heinrichs (Captured by Liz) have teamed up again and created our new series 'Coming Home'. In this new piece, we look at the reopening of Theatres in London and around the country and celebrate our industry coming back. We got together some performers who will be some of the first to return to theatres and created this piece to bring some positivity to the theatre industry which has been through one of the toughest years in our lifetime. Whilst it is important to acknowledge the hardships we've all gone through, it's important we pull together as a community and celebrate our beloved industry finally coming back! 

We meet Richard fresh from the cast announcement of the UK tour of Hairspray, in which he will be playing the role of Corny Collins, a role and show he says is one of his dream jobs. We met Richard at the Playhouse Theatre, a place he is pretty familiar with! He appeared in The Rocky Horror show playing Eddie/Dr. Scott at the Playhouse, he later went on tour with the show in the same roles before taking over the role of Brad Majors, a role he had played previously. 

With a CV almost as long as my arm, Richard has had a really wonderful career. He’s appeared as Rooster in the UK Tour of Annie, as Trevor Graydon in the UK Tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie, starred as Leo Bloom in the international production of The Producers, played Sir Galahad in the UK Tour of Spamalot, played Dustin and covered Greaseball in the Bochum production of Starlight Express and has played the title role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, to name but a few of his many credits! 
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Monday, 14 June 2021

COMING HOME: Laura Pick, soon to return to the role of Elphaba in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre


Pocket Size Theatre and Liza Heinrichs (Captured by Liz) have teamed up again and created our new series 'Coming Home'. In this new piece, we look at the reopening of Theatres in London and around the country and celebrate our industry coming back. We got together some performers who will be some of the first to return to theatres and created this piece to bring some positivity to the theatre industry which has been through one of the toughest years in our lifetime. Whilst it is important to acknowledge the hardships we've all gone through, it's important we pull together as a community and celebrate our beloved industry finally coming back! 

Wicked is one of the biggest musical theatre hits of the 21st century so far. With productions all over the world, an 18 year run on Broadway plus almost 15 years in the West End, it’s safe to say Wicked is a modern musical theatre staple. The lead roles of Glinda and Elphaba have made stars of those who have played them. Some of the wonderful ladies to have played these roles here in the UK are now some of the top musical theatre performers we have; Kerry Ellis, Rachel Tucker, Alice Fearn, Louise Dearman, Diane Pilkington & Gina Beck to name just a few - Laura Pick is now following in their footsteps. 

Laura started in the show as the standby to Elphaba. She covered Alice Fearn (now starring in the London production of Come From Away) and Nikki Bentley (soon to be starring in Joseph at the Glastonbury Abbey) before taking over as the principal role at the beginning of 2020. After a short run as the full-time lead, her new Elphaba journey was cut short due to the theatres closing. Laura will be returning to play the most famous green girl in London when it reopens on the 15th of September 2021. A year and a half after having last played the role, Laura says she cannot wait to be reunited with the cast, telling us how much she is looking forward to sharing this show with audiences once again; “I can’t wait to be able to tell this beautiful story again, it continues to be relevant and I want to connect with the wonderful audiences that we always get at the Apollo Victoria.” 
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Monday, 11 January 2021

The Bridgerton cast and their Theatrical backgrounds


Bridgerton has blasted onto our screens and it is all anyone can talk about right now! And rightly so, its an incredible series and I for one cannot wait for more series to drop in the future. Something that makes this wonderful show so great is the incredibly talented cast and as the theatre nerds that we are, I couldn't stop googling the actors to find out that so many of them have some incredible theatre backgrounds. Some, I'm sure, you've seen in shows before! So, we've pulled together the information you'll need to fulfil the stagey part of your brain. How many have you seen in shows?! 

Jonathan Bailey

Bailey has become a well-known Screen actor with credits including Chewing Gum, Broadchurch, Jack Ryan and Hooten & the Lady and now as the eldest son of the Bridgerton family, but Bailey is an award-winning stage actor. In 2018 he won the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his role as Jamie in the West End revival of Company at the Gielgud Theatre. His other stage credits include The York Realist (Donmar); King Lear (Chichester); The Last Five Years (St. James Theatre); American Psycho (Almeida Theatre); Othello (National Theatre); South Downs (Chichester & Harold Pinter Theatre); Girl with a Pearl Earring (Cambridge Arts & Theatre Roya Haymarket) and Beautiful Thing (Sound Theatre). 

Ruth Gemmell

A truly seasoned actor, Gemmell plays the Dowager Viscountess Bridgerton, the widowed mother of the Bridgerton children. Her stage credits are extensive, working up and down the country in some of our finest theatres. Some of her credits include Tis Pity She's a Whore & The Country Wife (Lancaster Playhouse); The Winter's Tale (Salisbury Playhouse); An Ideal Husband & Uncle Vanya (Edinburgh Lyceum); Ancient Lights & Nabokov's Gloves (Hampstead Theatre); The Weir (Royal Court Theatre); Coram Boy (National Theatre); Betrayal (Sheffield Crucible); Riflemind (Trafalgar Studios) and Macbeth, King Lear, Midwinter, Midsummer Mischief all at the RSC. 
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Outside the Spotlight: Dreamy Battersea with Danielle Fiamanya | Captured by Liz


Outside the Spotlight is brought to you by
Captured by Liz in partnership with Pocket Size Theatre, this series of articles is sponsored by Pointe & Flex, a stylish and motivational stationery brand created for dancers, dance teachers and everything in between! From diaries to notebooks, pens to pencils, planners to action lists, Pointe & Flex are here to make sure you stay on top of everything so you can thrive in your industry. Click here to find out more.

It feels like we’re in Arendelle, as we’re wrapped up in big coats on a chilly December day. Battersea Park is looking cosy and crisp as I meet Danielle. Danielle graduated from The Guildford School of Acting in 2019, and went straight into playing Nettie in The Colour Purple at Curve Leicester and Birmingham Hippodrome, for which she received the 2019 Stage Debut award. She was in &Juliet at the Shaftesbury Theatre when the industry was forced to close down. “We were just down for our warm-up when we found out. I think we kind of knew it was coming, but it was still a shock.” 


Just a few days before, Danielle had made her 2nd cover debut in the show as Juliet, alongside Alex Tranter as Shakespeare and Dillion Scott-Lewis as Romeo. “We had some illnesses, holidays and injuries in the cast just before we closed. When I went on on the Wednesday, I only found out about it on the day. I had just been for a singing lesson, and then got a message from Jordan (Luke Gage) saying ‘I’m so sorry I’m not there, I’m so excited for you. Have the best time!.’ And I didn’t even know yet what was going on”, she laughs. 
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Thursday, 7 January 2021

Pantomime Round-Up 2020



Usually around this time the vast majority of the three hundred or more Pantomimes end their Christmas runs and cast and crew get a well-earned rest after an intensive fifty-plus show season to packed houses all around the UK. Families will have celebrated together the festive fun and excitement of theatre and young children will have had the first experience of a live show. What is more, the regional theatres will have earned enough income to sustain the venue throughout the year ahead until the next Christmas. 

The Pandemic has changed that for the 2020/21 season with around 200 cancelled or postponed early in the year until 2021 before they even began rehearsals and worse still only a couple opening and completing the scheduled runs. Those Producers who took the chance to go ahead and rehearse, market, and open a show were stopped in their tracks by Tier 3 and 4 closures or worse the need to self-isolate cast members due to illnesses. Many of those affected by closure either planned or rushed to capture their shows so that they could be streamed into our homes. Cinemas do provide a great outlet for captured Theatre, but they too were largely closed so the only way to view was on the home PC / Smart TV. According to the British Theatre Guide some eighty shows were available to view.

Curiously the usually most prolific producer QDOS with 35 shows in a normal season resisted the temptation to stream any archived shows or to capture any of the ten shows that the National Heritage helped to fund to "save Christmas" so many of the biggest Pantomime stars were not to be seen. They did manage to open Pantoland at the Palladium, Sleeping Beauty at the Mayflower in Southampton, and Robinson Crusoe in Plymouth but the first closed soon after opening when London went into tier 3, Southampton closed due to cast illness and Plymouth nearly completed its run until it fell foul of another move into tier 3 regulations. 
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When will the West End re-open?


In these very strange and uncertain times, we have been lucky enough to have performers, creators, theatres and producers up and down the country providing everything they can to entertain the public from their homes. Over Christmas, we saw a huge step forward, with numerous West End venues opening and Pantomimes all over the UK being announced. Unfortunately, all of these have now come to a close. But we must look to the future, here you'll find all the information you'll need about when and where these shows are opening in the West End. Of course, these may change but these dates really give us something to look forward to. I for one cannot wait to be back in a dark auditorium in the theatrical heart of the world! 


& Juliet

Re-opening at the Shaftsbury Theatre from the 24th September 2021. 

Back to the Future

Due to open at the Adelphi Theatre on the 20th August 2021. 

The Book of Mormon

Taking bookings from the 12th July 2021 at the Prince of Wales Theatre. 

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cinderella

Taking online bookings from the 25th June 2021 at the Gillian Lynne Theatre.

Come From Away

Performances at the Phoenix Theatre are suspended until the 18th June 2021, online booking from 21st June 2021. 
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Wednesday, 6 January 2021

The Real Housewives of Musical Theatre



If you're anything like me, you would have fallen in the Real Housewives trap. Over this pandemic there hasn't been a lot to do, so of course watching Real Housewives was on the top of my list. But this got me thinking, who would be the Real Housewives of Musical Theatre? Well, let's find out... 

Madame Morrible 


No doubt she'll stir the pot without any of the others knowing, until all is revealed and her evil ways are exposed. 
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Thursday, 31 December 2020

Top Features on Pocket Size Theatre in 2020



One thing we LOVE doing here at Pocket is working on features; some are just a bit of fun, some are to promote the good people are doing and others to fulfill your stagey needs! They've always been a super popular thing on our site, so heres the top 10 features that you guys loved! 



This year, with the increase of people starting businesses due to being out of work, we thought we'd help promote some of those people and collected together some of the people we thought we particularly wonderful! Did you shop small this Christmas? 



The production shot artiles are still, to this day, our most viewed piece EVER! So, of course we had to make a Lockdown edition! Looking back on it, I can't say a lot has changed... 
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10 Most Popular Reviews of 2020


What a difficult year for us theatre people, ey? I shan't go into the details of how hard its been for all of us, I think that's pretty clear! But we did manage to get to see SOME theatre, both in-person and online! Here at Pocket Size Theatre, we pulled together our 10 most popular reviews from this past year! Take a look and remember some of the productions that have happened this year, we've had a great time looking back! 



"The score is stunning, Tucker’s vocals stole the show whilst she was supported by a fiercely strong cast... Julian Kelly directed the 11-part orchestra to an exceptional standard, deservingly taking centre stage throughout the performance. Every element of the production was of the highest quality, pulling out all the stops to create an outstanding piece of theatre."
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The Best Shows we've seen in 2020!



2020.... well, that happened. 

Its been a rubbish year for our industry, but we mustn't dwell on the negatives! So, we thought we'd collect together our top shows that our wonderful reviews have seen this year! Even though these are our top reviewed shows, we just want to say a huge well done to all those who have been involved in creating content this year, as an industry we have pulled through and proven our place in society. Even if the government still don't value us, we must value one another and we wish everyone the utmost success in the new year! 

Without further ado, let's take a look at some of our top shows from 2020! 



"The whole production is directed with great skill and ingenuity by Shaun Kerrison and backed by some excellent video and graphics by George Reeve projected on the large screen above the band and has the feel of a high production value West End show with great musicality and fresh and lively touches. This is no concert; this is a joyous celebration of musical theatre with a powerful and meaningful message that resonated as much today (perhaps more so) than when Charles Dickens wrote it in 1843. Bravo London Musical Theatre Orchestra. We hope you will return to the stage even stronger in 2021." 
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Monday, 28 December 2020

Outside the Spotlight: Reminiscing around the National with Nicholas McLean | Captured by Liz


Outside the Spotlight is brought to you by Captured by Liz in partnership with Pocket Size Theatre, this series of articles is sponsored by Pointe & Flex, a stylish and motivational stationery brand created for dancers, dance teachers and everything in between! From diaries to notebooks, pens to pencils, planners to action lists, Pointe & Flex are here to make sure you stay on top of everything so you can thrive in your industry. Click here to find out more.

Grey concrete buildings melt into the grey sky on this wintery day, as we meet outside the closed National Theatre. Nick has a long connection to the iconic venue. “It really sparked my interest, and love, for theatre.” His secondary school had a great collaboration with the National, which enabled various school trips to see productions, as well as putting on shows as well. “I spent a lot of time here as a kid.” 


You can see how important and long lasting early exposure and involvement in theatre can be, as Nick went on to study at Mountview for three years and has quite a few shows under his belt now. When theatres were forced to close, Nick was part of WICKED in the West End, playing the role of Boq 8 shows a week. “I had actually been on holiday the week before, and we were all at the theatre when we got the news theatres would close. Broadway had obviously shut down already, so we knew it was coming, but it was still a weird feelings.” 
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Tuesday, 22 December 2020

The Best Onstage Quick Changes in Musical Theatre!


I am an absolute sucker for a quick change and an onstage quick change, I am all for! The little theatre kid in me absolutely LIVES for these in musicals because that's what I used to pretend to do in my bedroom (just me...?). The designers on these shows are incredible and do not get enough credit in general but certainly don't get the credit they deserve for these cool and innovative changes on stage! Take a look at our list and tweet us ones we've missed! 

Mean Girls | Cady Hearon in Revenge Party



Heathers | Heather Duke in Never Shut up Again 

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Monday, 21 December 2020

Outside the Spotlight: Dreaming of Dreamgirls with Samara Casteallo | Captured by Liz


Outside the Spotlight is brought to you by Captured by Liz in partnership with Pocket Size Theatre, this series of articles is sponsored by Pointe & Flex, a stylish and motivational stationery brand created for dancers, dance teachers and everything in between! From diaries to notebooks, pens to pencils, planners to action lists, Pointe & Flex are here to make sure you stay on top of everything so you can thrive in your industry. Click here to find out more.

We’re in the middle of the Strand, that’s illuminated in Christmas decorations and festive lights. Equipped with a warm coffee on this cold day, Samara meets me outside the Savoy Theatre. Before theatres went dark, Samara was just about to open in Tina The Musical at the Aldwych Theatre, just a stone throw away from the Savoy. The cast were about to do their dress rehearsal ahead of their opening night, when the theatre was closed. 


Having made her West End debut in Dreamgirls, the Strand and Covent Garden area is like Samara’s second home. As we find ourselves outside the prestigious hotel and theatre exterior, she tells me about her time in Dreamgirls. “It was such an amazing time! It was my first West End show, so it will always have a special place in my heart.” I ask her about her opening night - the first night she stepped out onto that West End stage. “It was incredible. I can’t really describe it. The moment the curtain rises is like nothing else. I can’t put it into words. The adrenaline, just the overall feeling. You work so hard in rehearsals, and of course before that, and then to get to that point. It’s just incredible.” 
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Saturday, 5 December 2020

Outside the Spotlight: Seven Dials with Christina Shand | Captured by Liz


Outside the Spotlight is brought to you by Captured by Liz in partnership with Pocket Size Theatre, this series of articles is sponsored by Pointe & Flex, a stylish and motivational stationery brand created for dancers, dance teachers and everything in between! From diaries to notebooks, pens to pencils, planners to action lists, Pointe & Flex are here to make sure you stay on top of everything so you can thrive in your industry. Click here to find out more.

It’s almost like meeting her in her backyard, as Christina knows every corner of Seven Dials in central London. Christina has spent many an hour in the area over the last couple of years. She was in 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and for the past three years has worked as an instructor at Digme Covent Garden (former Another Space). By the time we meet on a sunny Monday, she’s already taught two cycle classes in the studio, and has another one later on. “It helps me to switch off.”



As we wander around the narrow streets and flashy windows of Covent Garden, we stop every now and then, still surprised by how quiet it is in the usually busy area. “It’s so beautiful here, and there’s so much around”. Does she have a favourite shop in the area? “Not really. I love a coffee, and there are so many to choose from. But things around here can also change so quickly.” 

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Friday, 27 November 2020

Outside the Spotlight: Exploring Southwark with Alex Tranter | Captured by Liz

Outside the Spotlight is brought to you by Captured by Liz in partnership with Pocket Size Theatre, this series of articles is sponsored by Pointe & Flex, a stylish and motivational stationery brand created for dancers, dance teachers and everything in between! From diaries to notebooks, pens to pencils, planners to action lists, Pointe & Flex are here to make sure you stay on top of everything so you can thrive in your industry. Click here to find out more.

It’s a chilly but sunny October day in London. Alex, who was living his best life on stage at &Juliet every night before theatres went dark, takes another sip of his coffee, overlooking the River Thames. We’re just outside the National Theatre, around the corner from the Globe, surrounded by iconic buildings of the city, as he reflects on the memories associated with the South Bank and the area. “It’s my go to place. I just love it here”, he says are we’re strolling along the Thames. 



Alex trained at Italia Conti in London, just a stone throw away. They’d all spent quite some time across the river after long days of classes. “We always felt so fancy just going to the pub here by the river” he laughs. And still today, the area is his go to for a chilled beverage or a meal with his mates. It’s nice to know, some things never change.

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Saturday, 21 November 2020

Your 2020 Christmas List: Supporting small businesses in our community | Part 2


Our first article was received so well and we loved discovering some businesses run by theatre people, since the first feature a few more businesses have grabbed our attention so we couldn't help but make a second instalment! Remember, buying from small businesses could really help someone out, especially when they're run by people in our industry who are unfortunately left with no work right now. Take a look at this list and if you've not seen it, our first one too but remember to try and seek these people out. They're everywhere on social media and there's so much to chose from! 




Heather Porte is a recent graduate from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, during the pandemic she has opened up a new business 'Needle & Stem'. House plants are all the rage right now, so why not combine that with a new hobby? Heather has created these embroidery kits based around houseplants that feature cheeky and fun slogans, not only are these kits super cute but if bought for someone you're not only giving them a cute and thoughtful gift, you're also encouraging a new hobby! 




This incredible and unique art company is founded by Anu Ogunmefun, the artist behind the business. Before the pandemic Anu was in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre, since the West End shutting down she has taken her other talents to form her business. She creates these stunning prints which would not look out of place in any modern home, you can even buy her designs on a jumper or Christmas card! And, for something extra special, why not get a custom cartoon design for a loved one?

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Friday, 20 November 2020

Outside the Spotlight: Music Memories with Vicki Manser | Captured by Liz

Outside the Spotlight is brought to you by Captured by Liz in partnership with Pocket Size Theatre, this series of articles is sponsored by Pointe & Flex, a stylish and motivational stationery brand created for dancers, dance teachers and everything in between! From diaries to notebooks, pens to pencils, planners to action lists, Pointe & Flex are here to make sure you stay on top of everything so you can thrive in your industry. Click here to find out more.
 

It’s an exciting week for Vicki when we meet at Denmark Street in the middle of Central London. It’s the day “Could If I Wanted To”, her second single, got its first radio play. Vicki loves music, she loves her guitars, which is exactly why Denmark Street is one of her favourite spots in London. We wander past the music stores and shops, some open, some unfortunately closed this time. She talks about the time and memories she’s shared with the area, and there are a lot of them. “I’ve come here a lot over the years. I just love it.” 


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Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Britannia High: Where are they now?


Britannia High was the British answer to High School Musical, Fame and Glee! Whilst some may not have even heard of this TV, for some of us it was a huge thing in our younger years. The TV show only lasted one series but the stars of the TV show have gone onto some wonderful careers, as part of our 'Where are they Now' series, we look at where the young cast of Britannia high are today! If you like this series, why not check out some of our others? Our 'Where are they now' series features TV shows like How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria (Search for Maria in The Sound of Music), Any Dream Will Do (Search for Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), I'd Do Anything (Search for Nancy in Oliver), Over the Rainbow (Search for Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz) and Grease is the Word (Search for Danny and Sandy in Grease) and Fame: The musical (the search for Nick and Serena in Fame). 

Matthew James Thomas 

Thomas played Jez, whose actual name is Jeremy but he chooses the nickname to sound 'cooler' and to hide his rich background. After appearing in the show Matthew went on to appear in Midsummer Murders and also was featured in a musical adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray at the Leicester Square Theatre. He then moved over to America where he got cast in Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark as the alternate to Reeve Carney, they both played the lead role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He then went on to play the title role in the Broadway revival of Pippin on Broadway. He played Fenwick in the musical adaption of Diner and played Riff in the Hollywood Bowl production of West Side Story.


Georgina Hagen

Hagen played Lauren, the character who was discovered singing in an ABBA tribute band at a wedding. Georgia had a successful career in the arts as a child appearing in Annie at the Victoria Palace, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium, playing Rebecca in Tracey Beaker and the voice of Control in Starlight Express. After the TV series she went onto play Meat in the touring production of We Will Rock You before appearing in Starlight Express in the Bochum production of the show. She played Dinah for a year in the show before taking over the lead role of Pearl, a role she played for 3 years before reprising her role in the 30th-anniversary production. Her other theatre credits since Britannia High include Shelley Parker in Bat Boy (Southwark Playhouse), Ashley in Like Me (Waterloo East Theatre), Judy - The Songbook of Judy Garland (UK Tour), Nancy in Groundhog Day (Old Vic Theatre) and The Sound of Music (UK Tour). 

Twitter: @geebeesmooch
Instagram: @georginahagen77
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