As York Musical Theatre Company prepares for its latest show, Anna Mitchelson reveals how it is a breeding ground for talented performers who go on to roles on TV and in hit shows
York Musical Theatre Company is York’s longest running amateur company, going since 1902 as the formally named York Amateur Operatics and Dramatics Society.
The company has been performing musical theatre in York every year since then with regular productions at York Theatre Royal, Joseph Rowntree Theatre and in the recent past the Grand Opera House, including shows and concerts at smaller venues around the local area.
York Musical Theatre Company has always prided itself on nurturing the talent it has amongst its members under the direction of Paul Laidlaw. His professional career has taken him around the world.
Among his West End appearances are The Deep Blue Sea with Penelope Keith at the Haymarket, The Map of the Heart at the Globe, The Mikado at the Prince of Wales and The Englishman Amused at the National Theatre, with which he also toured Canada.
He appeared in Noel and Gertie in Vienna and conducted West Side Story for the National Theatre of Kenya. He has also starred in numerous films and TV programmes. Paul is also the resident Dame in the annual pantomime at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage and is musical director of the acclaimed Scarborough Spa Orchestra.
Under Paul’s direction company members have gone on to professional work in theatre and teaching. Samuel Edward-Cook, who played many lead roles for the company including Tony in The Boy Friend and Will Parker in Oklahoma!, is now a graduate of RADA and performing professionally in the UK and around the world.
His theatre work includes Boys (Soho Theatre and UK tour) and the critically-acclaimed Glory Dazed (Old Vic production, Edinburgh Fringe and Adelaide Festival). Sam’s television work has included BBC1’s Land Girls and the forthcoming BBC2 drama series Peaky Blinders. Starring Cillian Murphy and Sam Neill, this inter-war gangster drama will air later this year.
Along with this young talent, Olivia-Sian Evans is another YMTC member who is now appearing professionally in productions such as the UK tour of Sister Act and the forthcoming 2013 tour of Ghost The Musical.
Current members are also achieving great things in theatre and drama. Leading lady Toni Feetenby, currently playing the lead in the company’s forthcoming production of Me And My Girl this April, trained at Guildford and embarked on a professional theatre career before moving back to York.
Toni has played many lead roles for the company including Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. Toni is now director of performing arts at Manor School in York.
The current talent can be seen in the company in their next show Me and My Girl, the award-winning musical, playing at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre between April 9 and 13. Tickets can be booked through York Theatre Royal Box Office 01904 623568 or online at the Theatre Royal’s website.