Strictly loving it – teens take to Playhouse stage

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Two talented teenagers recently shared a stage with Strictly star Brendan Cole.

Ellie Hemmings, 14, from South Queensferry and Eilidh MacDonald, 15, from Linlithgow, appeared in Showman at the Edinburgh Playhouse.

The youngsters were among a select group of performers from The MGA Academy of Performing Arts’ junior school to open the show and perform in front of hundreds of people.

Ellie, a pupil at the Mary Erskine School, was thrilled to have been selected, although a little nervous.

She said: “It was very scary as there are so many seats! It was an amazing opportunity though and such an honour to share the stage with Brendan Cole.”

Eilidh, who is a pupil at Linlithgow Academy, added: “The thought of being in the Playhouse, where so many worldwide stars had been before us was exciting.

“I normally go to The Playhouse every Christmas Eve with my family and I’ve seen Shrek and Wicked. It was quite surreal to think how often I’ve been there and then being on the stage I normally look up to.”

Both girls are members of The MGA Academy’s Fierce Theatre School.

Ellie joined Fierce as she wanted to take her dancing to the next level.

“I was a member of The MGA Academy’s Stage Academies but I wanted to take my performing more professional; that’s why I joined Fierce.

“It’s really difficult to get into. You have to re-audition every year but I Iove it and it’s the highlight of my week.”

Eilidh also began with Stage Academies before moving onto Fierce.She said: “I started at Stage Academies at MGA when I was ten and loved it. Everyone here is really close and the training is amazing.

“Very often, we get professionals coming in to do workshops with people like Becca Stenhouse, the lead in Legally Blonde, and Fergal McGoff from Matilda in the West End.

“There are trips for those over 16 too. I’m hoping to go to Los Angeles in October to do workshops.

“It’s something you can’t really get anywhere else.”

The MGA Academy is the first full-time professional training academy in Scotland to be awarded accreditation by CDMT, the UK’s quality assurance and membership body for the professional dance, drama and musical theatre industries.

The show at Edinburgh Playhouse saw the youngsters take to the stage to perform songs from popular musicals, including This Is The Greatest Show from The Greatest Showman and Another Day of Sun from La La Land. Performing at such a high-profile production meant intense preparation.

The girls were given just four weeks to learn all the lyrics and choreography.

Louise Ferrier, principal of The MGA Academy’s school of part-time studies, said: “This was an incredible opportunity for our students. They were all in awe of Brendan Cole as they recognised him from Strictly.”