The Big Apple beckons for Erin

Goodbye Erin.jpg

There was plenty of emotion on show at this Monday's rehearsal, as one of our core Phoenix members came to say goodbye - before today leaving for New York.

Erin is about to start work as a Fundraising and Event Manager for Givergy, after graduating from Robert Gordon University, and we could not be happier for her.

Erin has been a part of Phoenix for the past 14 years - although she actually made her debut in our behind the scenes extras for 1998's A Grand Music Hall Extravaganza, as a grumpy toddler!

Her Phoenix Youth tenure saw her rise from one of Miss Hannigan’s orphans in Annie to starring as the venomous Rita in Billy, before graduating to become a Delta Nu in Phoenix Theatre’s Legally Blonde.

We know she’s about to make a great success of herself as this next chapter in her life unfolds. As long as she's ready to host a visitor or two to the Big Apple!

Michael climbs to even greater heights

Michael Lewis.jpg

We are proud and thrilled to finally share the news that former Phoenix Youth pupil, Michael Lewis, will be starring as Jack in the Greenock Christmas pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.

He’ll be treading the boards alongside some very familiar faces to Still Game fans - Mark Cox and Jane McCarry (Tam and Isa) - along with Braveheart and River City’s Jimmy Chisholm.

A leading man in three consecutive Phoenix Youth shows, Michael also took to the stage with our adult company in 2014’s Into the Woods, appearing as Rapunzel’s Prince - meaning this isn’t his first foray into the fairy tale realms.

And we don’t think this star has reached the top of his own particular beanstalk yet!

Adding some extra sparkle to the Star Awards

Members of Phoenix Theatre and Phoenix Youth Theatre had a ball last night, as they greeted and entertained the guests at the Aberdeen City Council 2019 Star Awards.

Everyone was greeted into the building by our enthusiastic mob of paparazzi, before meeting characters like The Joker and Harley Quinn, P.T. Barnum and Marilyn Monroe.

Thanks to everyone for being such good sports and we look forward to seeing you at more events across the North East soon.

Royal Honours for Phoenix’s Liz and Clare

Phoenix Theatre Directors Elizabeth Milne BEM and Clare Haggart BEM

We are delighted to publicly announce that our founders and directors, Liz Milne and Clare Haggart, have been awarded British Empire Medals (BEM) for services to theatre and the arts, in the Queen’s Birthday 2019 Honours List.

The awards recognise the impact the pair have had on the cultural make-up of the North-east, as well as on the lives of the hundreds of adults and thousands of children who have walked through the doors of Phoenix Theatre and Phoenix Youth Theatre over the past 30 years.

Liz and Clare established Phoenix Theatre in the autumn of 1990, having trained under Annie Inglis MBE as part of Attic Theatre, and gaining experience as Assistant Directors in four Aberdeen Student Shows. Their love of theatre and their passion for pushing people to be their best then led to the creation of Phoenix Youth Theatre in 1998.

Throughout their career, Liz and Clare have never aimed to create superstars, but instead to give a generation of young people an appreciation for theatre and to develop life skills, such as teamwork, confidence, respect and discipline.

Thousands of young people have been a part of Phoenix Youth Theatre over the past two decades and many, with fond memories of the “Phoenix Family”, still keep in touch with Liz and Clare.

In addition to their theatrical achievements, Liz and Clare have gladly and proudly given their services to dozens of charities over the years and ensured this is a central part of the Phoenix ethos.

They have put on cabarets and performances for organisations such as CLAN, RNLI, Northsound Cash for Kids, Junior Diabetes, the Bling Fling, and most notably their chosen partner charity – the heavily underfunded Grampian Women’s Aid.

In the case of the latter, they have donated many thousands of pounds to the charity since the millennium and staged two productions aimed solely at raising money and awareness for them in 2015 and 2016. A third will follow in February 2020.

Clare said: “We were both surprised and delighted to have received these Honours.”

Liz added: “To have had the hard work we have done, over so many years, acknowledged this way is truly humbling.”

Catching up with Orla

Former Phoenix Youth dancer Orla Prentice

As we celebrate one of our young stars preparing to join The MGA Academy of Performing Arts in Edinburgh, we spoke to Orla Prentice about making that exact same leap two years ago.

Orla was part of Phoenix Youth Theatre for almost 10 years – from being our tiniest orphan in ‘Annie’ to a leading dancer in ‘Oklahoma!’.

What is your earliest memory of Phoenix Youth Theatre?

It would have to be getting to do so many different improvisations and funny scenes in groups with my classmates. It was a good way to be creative and also to develop my improvisation skills, which has been really useful.

What were some of your highlights from your time with Phoenix?

‘Oklahoma!’ was absolutely my favourite show to be a part of. I made the closest friends and, as Dream Laurey, got to be an amazing part in such a brilliant show. Looking back, being Molly in ‘Annie’ was also such a fantastic opportunity for me to experience the stage as more than an ensemble role. I may have been very young, but it gave me such confidence to pursue theatre as a career.

What has your experience of life at The MGA Academy been like?

Studying musical theatre full time has definitely got its ups and downs. It’s hard work and can sometimes not be very rewarding. However, when you do see progress and achieve something, it makes it all worthwhile. I know that it’s a long road, but hard work really does pay off. The classes are all so varied and full-on, but definitely beneficial and I get to build on what I learned when I was young.

Which of the skills and lessons you learned at Phoenix have been most useful in your professional training?

The two biggest things from my decade at Phoenix would be improving my concentration and confidence. Another lesson I always take with me is “your body doesn’t know that you’re acting”, which is so important to make sure you don’t leave yourself in a negative mindset after a rehearsal or performance of character work. Overall, I learned a lot of the three core disciplines of musical theatre while at Phoenix, which gave me a great standard of knowledge to start my training and meant I wasn’t starting right from the beginning.

With another young Phoenix star following in your footsteps this September, what would your advice be?

Honestly, give it everything and don’t hold back. Remember that the MGA staff want you to be good and are looking to see your qualities and potential. I would also say to listen to everything they say. Nearly every tutor at MGA has been a professional in their discipline and has a lot of knowledge and experience to share with you. Soak it up!

Amazing acceptance for Ciara

Phoenix Youth Theatre actress Ciara Christie

Phoenix Youth Theatre would like to send a huge congratulations to one of our stars, Ciara Christie, who has been accepted to study musical theatre at The MGA Academy of Performing Arts in Edinburgh.

At the young age of 16, Ciara was one of the youngest performers auditioning to join the school and we could not be more proud of her achievements.

Ciara will be seeing out her Phoenix Youth Theatre years in style next month, in her starring role as Smitty in ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’. And if this if how she succeeds without trying, her future will be one to watch!

Hole in one for murderous golfers

Members and guests at the Peterculter Golf Club brought their detection skills to the fore this weekend, for an original Phoenix Theatre murder mystery entitled ‘Stiff as a Board’.

Everyone in attendance was sworn in as Special Constables to assist ‘officers’ in finding out just which of our motley crew of curious characters committed the deed. There was a prize on offer for whoever reached the nearest conclusion of “who”, “how” and “why” - and congratulations to the single person who completely hit the nail on the head!

It was a fantastic night all round and we’re glad the guests had a ball!

Find out more information on our Murder Mysteries, and book one for your own event.

Phoenix Youth turns 20!

Phoenix Youth directors Liz and Clare celebrating the drama school’s 20th anniversary

Phoenix Youth Theatre is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year!

That's two decades of entertaining the audiences of the north-east, while teaching young people confidence and life skills they can use throughout their lives.

Society's Scott Begbie interviewed Junior class teacher (and original pupil) Jonnie Milne about the company's history and legacy.

Read the full story here.