West End coach bids to unearth new talent

West End coach bids to unearth new talent

By Michael Upton | 30/12/2021

West End coach bids to unearth new talent

 

A SINGING coach who has worked with stars of stage, screen and the West End has launched her own performing arts school to help unearth Rotherham’s stage hopefuls of the future.

Elissa Hicken has drawn on her experience in London and regional theatre, TV and film in setting up Encore Musical Theatre, which she said would offer singing, dancing and acting training as well as the chance to explore filming music videos and staging concerts.

During her coaching career, Elissa has regularly worked with the likes of Samantha Barks, who starred in the Les Miserables film and is playing the lead in a West End production of Frozen, and Alex Young, who heads the cast for the current Crucible production of She Loves Me.

She also coaches former Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh and ex-The Wanted star Jay McGuinness, best known to many as a former Strictly Come Dancing finalist/winner.

“I don’t like to think of myself as a teacher as much as helping people get ready for certain roles,” Elissa said.

But she now hopes to focus on bringing through young performers from their first steps on stage to a possible future career in musical theatre.

Elissa said performing arts schools tended to focus on each discipline of theatre, music and dancing and she was keen to bring them all together.

“I wanted somewhere where you can sing, dance and act at the same time,” she said.

“I felt there was not enough training in this integrated approach.

“I thought it was something the north was crying out for — there was not really anything up here offering industry standard training.

“There is a lot of am-dram but they don’t always receive training in the technique.

“It’s often a case of learning lines but not working on the technique and how to present it.”

Elissa will be working with Steven Walker, a writer, composer and vocal coach who runs Vocal Sanctuary — and said she also hoped to encourage her students to stage and perform in new productions.

“Steven will be generating work for the age group we’re working with,” she said.

“It’s a chance for them to originate roles and they will be challenged to be more of an artist.”

Once Encore is up and running, with an initial age range of four to 21, the aim is to stage shows at Rotherham Civic and Sheffield theatres.

Elissa said she no longer got the same feeling from performing, instead enjoying seeing performers she has coached thriving.

Encore is holding an open day on January 9 at CWR events on Thames Road in Rotherham.

Visiting slots can be booked at encoremusicaltheatre.co.uk/open-day/.



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