College student, Ellie, stunned York audiences recently with her operatic skills at the York Light Youth’s production of “Barnum”, the musical by Mark Bramble, Michael Stewart and Cy Coleman.
Ellie played Swedish virtuoso, Jenny Lind, for whose charms the lead falls before returning to his wife, Charity (“Chairy”, played by another Mountie, Amelia Cook).
Auditions began in May, with rehearsals from June. The company met every Sunday, took a break in August and by September they’d added Wednesday and Friday evening rehearsal sessions. The cast were from Year 7 to those, like Amelia, who’d just finished Upper Sixth Form.
On top of this strict regime, Ellie was doing full school days. During the performance weeks, she would finish school at 4pm and be at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre for 6pm in time for hair and makeup in preparation for the energetic shows. After the performances, she would leave the Theatre at around 10.15pm be home by 10.45pm and eventually get to bed around midnight.
Ellie hopes to read Medicine at university.
How do you handle the demands of a starring role with juggling schoolwork and the rigours of A Level studies?
My teachers were fine with it. I didn’t have much additional work that I needed to catch up on, but I would still take prep to the rehearsals. All the older cast members – those doing GCSEs and A-Levels, were doing their prep at the Theatre. A lot of the GCSE students were starting their mocks the week the show ended.
What advice do you have for other students hoping to pursue theatre while they are still at school?
Don’t wait until the last minute to get everything done. If you’re given prep, do it as soon as you can, because if you can stay on top of things, you’ll be able to better enjoy it all. You don’t want to spend your time in a production worrying about work you haven’t done, or staying up late to complete your school work.
What do you think of The Mount?
It’s very different to my old school, in a good way. It’s a lot smaller and I like having a small year group. I already feel like I know, not only the College girls quite well, but I know girls in other years too, through Choir and Music.
Having your own shared study is another difference which is really good. Having a study room partner is like having an automatic friend and the studies are private and cozy. I really like it. The Common Room is also good for escaping to when you’re ready to relax.