Musical Theatre students from Edge Hill University have been able to gain invaluable experience courtesy of the Student Opportunity Fund.

The six first and second years were involved in a semi-professional production of Cats, showcasing the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, at Altrincham’s Garrick Playhouse.

Kevin Senduwala, James Glasgow, Janelle Stockwell, Nicole Kenyon, Megan Kilmurray and Abigail Birch gained invaluable insight from their involvement in the rehearsal and ‘show week’ process, during the run from 20-25 May.

Kevin Senduwala during rehearsals (picture: Jez Ward)

Indeed, the former pair had prominent stage roles, with Kevin playing lead Rum Tum Tugger, with his ‘note-sliding vocalese-style interpretation’ garnering praise from Number 9 reviewer Matthew Dougall, while James played Macavity (‘with just the right amount of mystery’ wrote Max Eden in his five-star review for North West End).

Deborah Norris, Lecturer in Dance in the Performing Arts department, who directed and choreographed the show, said: “This was the closest experience many of the students have had to being in a professional touring production.

“The students gained valuable industry experience, working with professional creative teams and played roles within the ensemble as singers/dancers.”

Feedback from some of the students involved was overwhelmingly positive. James reflected:

“It was an incredible experience that I would do all over again! I’ve met amazing friends, and I hope an experience like this comes around again.”

Janelle said:

“Being part of the musical was the most enjoyable experience I have had in my dance career. Not only is it my favourite musical, I had the opportunity to perform again in front of an audience and meet some amazing, talented people!”

Megan added:

“It was an amazing and inspiring experience. It was a great opportunity to meet and work with new people from various backgrounds, as well as working with Musical Director Mark Goggins and Deborah.”

Abigail said:

“This is one of the best experiences I’ve had at Edge Hill, the opportunity of getting to work and make connections with people outside of the university has been really beneficial.”

(Picture: www.pixbyvish.co.uk)

Funding covered transport costs from campus to theatre, taking in several journeys to fulfil rehearsal, tech and performance week commitments.

“This opportunity enhanced their knowledge and experience and gave them skills which they will be able to use within their curriculum modules and within their profession” noted Deborah. “They will be able to share their skills and value of the production experience with their peers and tutors.

“On a performance level it allows the students to develop technical skills in singing, dancing and acting, all of which will impact their learning experience at Edge Hill. The experience has enhanced their practical skills in performance but also in creating Musical Theatre and production.”

Find out you can apply for financial support from the Student Opportunity Fund here.