Meet the Bradford Alhambra Twelves

Meet the Bradford Alhambra Twelves

4 October 2016

Read all about this week's community cast for A Tale of Two Cities in Bradford!

Two Cities TwelvesA Tale of Two Cities arrives at its third stop on tour next week - Bradford Alhambra! We'll be there from Tuesday 4th - Saturday 8th October and will play seven performances. The Alhambra Theatre was built in 1913 and is now regarded as the North's premier touring venue, hosting the best in large scale entertainment from ballet and opera to variety and comedy, musicals, drama and Yorkshire's biggest panto. The venue seats an incredible 1,400 people and has staged major West End shows including The Lion King and War Horse.

Two Cities Twelves 

A Tale of Two Cities is currently touring the UK from 20 September until 26 November 2016. Each week we arrive in a new city or town, we'll be working with a new cast of people from the local community. We're calling them the Twelves! Why? Well, they'll be joining our professional cast on stage as citizens of this Dickensian world, either as unruly mobs or jury members. Twelve is, of course, the size of a jury! 


So who's in the Bradford Alhambra Twelve?

Jonathan GreenJonathan James Green

Why did you want to be a part of this production?
Firstly, Charles Dickens is an author whose works I have loved since childhood. My father had me read my first Dickens novel, Great Expectations, when I was about 11, having just started secondary school, and since then I have enjoyed no novelist’s words more than Dickens's. Dickens can, for a modern, and often young audience, can be a decisive figure, with the same idiosyncrasies of his writing being for one-half to loathe and the other to adore. I am of the latter half. His descriptive detail, in exactness and humour, exceeds any I have read, while his capacity for comedy and pathos rivals any of his centuries. Therefore, I could not ignore the chance to enter one of his worlds.

Beyond that, there is the environment in which I would work. Someone would have to have better cause than I to pass up the opportunity to perform on the Alhambra stage with a professional company. I expect that this will benefit me greatly in relation to my desire to act professionally, with the elaborateness of the production and the skill of the cast offering a, so far, unique and didactic experience.

What are you looking forward to from taking part?
I look forward to entering a professional rehearsal and performance space for the purpose of my education. I act when my university course (English Literature BA at the University of Leeds) and own writing efforts permit, which means that I have a wealth of experience but which is limited to amateur productions. For an aspiring actor, this path has its advantages and disadvantages. It may come as no surprise that there is a lot of talented actors at an amateur level, especially in a city like Bradford. I have acted with and been directed by those whose careers and qualifications very much justify my learning from them. However, that aspect of professionalism only goes so far as most companies are limited by tight finances. As such, I look forward to extending what I have already learnt.

What has been your experience of theatre so far?
Acting since childhood, beginning at school with self-penned plays such as a 2010 political satire and a Beatles biopic, a National Media Museum-screened knife crime docu-drama, before performing in four Shakespeare Schools Festivals (King Lear, Julius Caesar, Merchant of Venice, and Hamlet). Outside of school, I have performed in two musicals with the New Community Arts Academy (Oliver and The Addams Family), as Ezra Chater in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia with the University of Leeds Theatre Group, and as Ferdinand in The Tempest and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing with local group Actors Community Theatre in the grounds of Bradford Cathedral.

Interesting fact?
Stephen Fry, most likely, has my phone number. I am a published poet, firstly having grown from school, then locally, and now with the University of Leeds arts magazine The Scribe, the society of which I am now President. That is relevant because, prior to meeting Stephen Fry, I had three pieces published in an anthology and so I requested three copies: one for myself, a second for my father, and a third for Stephen Fry. It was at the time he had his third autobiography published, More Fool Me, and was touring the country for the purpose of readings and associated stand-up. I and two friends were seeing him at Manchester’s Bridgewater Festival, and after the performance, a limited book signing was scheduled. Prior to the trip I wrote on a small piece of paper my phone number, Twitter handle, and a message detailing my affection for his work, and stuck this to the inside cover of the anthology. Consequently, at the book signing, I handed him the anthology as a present, to which he appeared pleased, and signed my copy of his autobiography. Sadly, I have never received a call (I had in my mind a more pleasant type of Oscar Wilde/Bosie relationship, though that was fanciful in the extreme), and so I cannot be certain that he still has the contact info or book. Yet, he does not appear to be someone to throw away a book. I expect he took it, put it aside, and has never looked at it since.

If that is a rather disappointing ending to a promising anecdote, I will, at this point, reference my meeting with the Prince of Wales, who has surprisingly stubby fingers, my deceased dangerously-diving pet fishes, the hamster cage I took to my last A-Level Literature exam, and the game I like to call ‘Singing on Public Transport’, which is fairly self-explanatory but requires great skill for maximum enjoyment, especially on the Tube, any of which I would happily tell if asked but will not waste any more of your time in this space.

 


Sophia Kelly

Sophia Leanne Kelly

Why did you want to be a part of this production?
I have worked with the Touring Consortium on two previous productions in the past and they are an absolute pleasure to work with. The cast and crew have always been so helpful, supportive and welcoming. Even though you only work with the production for a week, they really make you feel right at home with the production. I also love the classic Charles Dickens story of A Tale of Two Cities, so it is a real pleasure to be apart of such an amazing production and storyline.

What are you looking forward to from taking part?
I'm really looking forward to meeting a whole bunch of new people, getting to hear stories and advice of their journeys so far within the industry. It's great to get connected! Also performing on such a beautiful stage as the Alhambra Theatre. That feeling when you step out on such a stage is just simply mind blowing.

What has been your experience of theatre so far?
Over the years I've tried to get involved in as much as possible, every opportunity that comes my way, I'll grab it! Joining amateur theatre youth groups and studying at The Northern School of Creative Arts for 5 years. During my time there I took part in numerous productions both on stage and film. These credits include such productions as A Dolls House, 5 Kinds of Silence, and A street Car Named Desire. My youthful appearance means that I am cast a lot of the time playing younger than my age, for instance, I appeared in Touring Consortium's Kes and To Sir, With Love at the Alhambra.

I worked with the Inspector Calls national tour in 2016 as part of the ensemble. I have gained many IMDB credits working on short films and feature films which have been shown at the National Medium Museum and appeared in the paper. My latest film project is working with a very talented Leeds film company Target Productions on a film called StarWars - The Dark Reckoning.  I have also worked with a very loveable theatre company based in Bradford for 3 years now. I am currently working with the Bradford Playhouse with their latest production Blood Brothers playing the role of Linda.

I am currently in my final year at university studying Performance Practice working very hard to get my Ba Hons  and just enjoying my journey within life, with a smile on my face.

Interesting fact?
When it comes to acting, I've always loved that first feeling when you walk out on the stage. The hot lights beaming from different angles, judgmental faces staring straight back. That sudden burst of energy, the nervous sensation you get rushing through your whole entire body just as you’re about to deliver your first opening line. You lose yourself; you lose yourself completely into someone else's mind state. Sharing similarities between the two, exploring and diving into every inch of emotions to bring that character to life. Then in a heartbeat, it's all over, and you wait there panicking wondering if you were good enough, anxiously waiting for that applause.

I have always had a love for Performing Arts ever since I can remember. I've never thought or dreamt of anything, other than being an actor. The stage is my home and I'll never stop until I've fulfilled all my ambitions and goals. It's not about the money or the fame, it's about waking up every single day knowing I'm doing something I simply love.

 


John Rees John Rees

Why did you want to be a part of this production?
It's many years since I have performed on the stage and I felt that to perform on this platform would put down a clear marker with regard to my personal development in recent times. I also wanted to give my little boy, Jacob, who plays the boy who is killed by the coach, an opportunity that may be a unique experience for him, but one he will remember for the rest of his life.

 

What are you looking forward to from taking part?
I am looking forward to the experience of learning from professional production and performing staff. I am looking forward to the privilege of sharing the stage with professional actors.  I am looking forward to the adrenaline buzz before the rising of the curtain and the hubbub of the audience arriving.  But most of all, I am looking forward to the most amazing experience of taking a curtain call with my wonderful little boy.  What an absolute privilege. Thank you.

 

What has been your experience of theatre so far?
I have been very lucky to perform in a number of Comedies and Farces in the West Country and to take the leads in a few. Uproar in the House where I played Nigel Pitt was a real favourite, Boraccio in Much a Do about Nothing also.  I have also taken to the stage in Lilongwe, Malawi and in Siena in Italy.


Interesting fact?
Whilst I was working with Voluntary Service Overseas in Malawi, I joined the United Nations for a weekend as an Observer for a National Referendum ordered by the World Bank and the United Nations. We toured the countryside between polling stations to make sure that there was no intimidation of the voters who were being given their first chance of a democratic vote in 30 years.  At the end of the day, at the end of the count when the vote for a multi-party state was unanimous by a massive 98.4%, I made an impromptu speech on behalf of the United Nations, in front of representatives of 16 different political parties, who before that day, had been subjected to severe suppression by a tyrannical Single Party State.  I stated how momentous a day this day had been for the past and future of Malawi.  A nerve-tingling experience.

 


Michelle SmithMichelle Smith

Why did you want to be a part of this production?
A Tale or Two Cities is a great novel and this adaption was too exciting an opportunity to miss. 

What are you looking forward to from taking part?
I'm looking forward to learning as much as I can from my fellow twelve, the professional actors, the crew, everyone!

What has been your experience of theatre so far?
This will be the second time treading the boards having taken part in Red Ladder's Community Play, Leeds Lads, earlier this year.  I loved it and now I well and truly have the bug. I love watching theatre but I enjoy being on the stage more. 

Interesting fact?
Grace O'Malley was born in the 1530s in Ireland and along with her army of 200 plus men, she ruled the sea and land as a formidable pirate. She was a rebel feminist who broke the chauvinistic mould of politics in the 16th Century. We share the same maiden name although she kept hers!  Grace lived in the small area my family is from so I'm claiming that she's a direct descendent until someone says otherwise...

 

 

 


Jayne Whitehead Jayne Whitehead
Why did you want to be a part of this production?
I have been part of amateur dramatic for over 40 years and have always wanted to be part of a professional production. Les Misérables is one of my favourite shows and when I saw this show advertised, it reminded me a little of that. When I talk about being in the show everyone is really excited for me and they would love to see me in the show.

What are you looking forward to from taking part?
I am excited and looking forward to meeting the cast, the rest of the ensemble and to make some new friends. I was a little nervous at the auditions and nearly didn’t get out of the car but my husband said it was a chance for me to do something I had always wanted to do, so with that in mind, I took the plunge. I was made to feel very welcome and started to relax a little after speaking with Neale. He explained what he expected of me and told me a little about the show.

What has been your experience of theatre so far?
I have been involved in Amateur Operatic Dramatic Societies for many years, I love being on stage and I have performed on the Alhambra stage many times with various local amateur dramatic societies. I am a member of different societies and have played at lots of different venues. I have taken small parts in various amateur societies, one of my favourites was playing Mimi in Acorn Antiques, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

As an amateur, I can’t wait to see how the other half live!

 


A Tale of Two Cities opens at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, where it plays from 10 to 17 September 2016. It then tours to Oxford Playhouse, Richmond Theatre, Bradford Alhambra, Blackpool Grand, Wolverhampton Grand, Brighton Theatre Royal, Edinburgh King's, Cheltenham Everyman and Nottingham Theatre Royal. 

Get tickets for this show by visiting our tour page.