November 17, 2014

Children In Need 2014 was a Big Night for Phoenix

by Conor O'Sullivan

in Professional Work

Students and Tutors Involved with TV Event

Children in Need is always a BIG night, but last Friday turned out to be an especially big night for Phoenix as no fewer than 4 tutors and students appeared on the TV spectacular. One of the first performances of the evening came in the form of an excerpt from the West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and millions of viewers saw the angelic face of Phoenix student Jake Poolman appear on their screens (left).  Jake is currently performing in the role of Charlie after having played Gavroche in Les Miserables and Nipper in the Cameron Macintosh national tour of Oliver! Jake has been a Phoenix student for several years now, currently taking LAMDA monologue lesson from Phoenix principal Phil Dale. Many people will know Jake from his title role appearance in the Phoenix Theatre Arts production of Oliver! at the Rhodes in 2012.

Another big moment came when super group One Direction appeared on a rooftop overlooking Albert Square to the delight of thousands of screaming fans. Eagle eyed Phoenix fans may well have spotted former Blast Summer School musical tutor Jon Shone on keyboards (right). Jon, who was MD on the last production of Dick Whittington as well as working on two Blast Summer Schools including Dosh. The Musical, is currently musical director for One Direction.

Later in the evening saw an excerpt from the new West End musical Made in Dagenham starring Gemma Arterton. Performing with the cast was former Phoenix Musical Theatre tutor Kate Coysten, who recently played the Fairy Godmother in the Phoenix production of Cinderella as well as overseeing last years Phoenix entry into the Glee Club Challenge, steering the group to the Grand Final at the O2. The Phoenix involvement didn’t actually end there as former Phoenix Drama Tutor and close friend of principal Phil Dale Michael Fentiman is actually Associate Director of Made in Dagenham and had taken responsibility for staging the excerpt at the BBC TV Studio.

“It was such a treat to see so many Phoenix faces involved with this great event” said Principal Phil Dale. “I’ve known Mike since he was about 14 and his single minded approach to anything theatrical set him out as a bit special from a very early age. It’s great to see him doing so well. In many ways Jake was the same. I remember playing Squire Basil Nasty in Jack and the Beanstalk and Jake was a tiny member of the junior chorus. Only tiny in stature however, his commitment to the role made it clear that he would go onto bigger things!”

Children in Need proved to be a great night for all involved but also proved to be an example of how Phoenix offers the best chances and opportunities by employing the very best in the business to work with our students.

To watch the Charlie and the Chocolate factory clip, click here.

To watch the Made In Dagenham clip, click here.

To watch One Direction, click here.

December 12, 2012

Oliver! Cast Perform Once More

by Phoenixphil

in Productions

Charity Ball Presentation is a Hit!


The Oliver! Cast after their performance at Capel Manor

The cast of Phoenix Theatre Arts smash hit production of Oliver! were given one last chance to shine recently when they performed excerpts from the musical at The Isabel Hospice Dickens themed Charity Ball. The high profile fundraising event took place inside a giant marquee in the grounds of Capel Manor College in Enfield and was attended by approximately 300 people, who were treated to a sit down 3 course dinner before being entertained by the cast.

Producer and Director Phil Dale was approached shortly after the production originally took place by Barbara Doherty from the Isabel Hospice fundraising team who had seen the show with some friends. Despite the ball being held the day before the technical rehearsal for the Rhodes pantomime and Phil’s initial reticence because of a busy schedule, Barbara’s persistence paid off and Phil agreed to take Fagin, Oliver, Nancy, Bet and Fagins gang along to entertain the guests.

Nancy (Amy Moulder) and Dodger (Will Edden) lead I'd Do Anything

A couple of rehearsals were all that was required and 6 songs in total were recreated for the evening; Where is Love?, Pick a Pocket, I’d Do Anything, Fine Life, Be Back Soon and As Long as He Needs Me. A minibus was hired to transport the cast to the venue and after a brief technical rehearsal followed by a trip to the Enfield branch of McDonalds, it was show time once again!  It was a great opportunity for the cast to meet up one last time and the feedback from the guests was as strong as the audience reaction to the original show.

The success of Oliver! at the Rhodes Box Office has meant that plans for another large-scale musical in the Autumn at Rhodes are already underway. Details will be released soon.

See more pictures from the Isabel Hospice event here

October 8, 2012

Oliver at The Rhodes!

by Conor O'Sullivan

in Productions

You can all consider yourself one of us!

Following the success of the previous two years of pantomimes produced by Phil Dale for the Rhodes, the production of Oliver!, the largest production that the Rhodes has ever staged outside of pantomime season, was highly anticipated. It had a lot to live up to, and with a large cast of 47, it was a highly ambitious production. With all 7 shows being thoroughly enjoyed by audiences, it didn’t disappoint. The set was fantastic, and moved flawlessly around the stage to create different scenes, with a large oven to set up Fagin’s kitchen, which looked fantastic. Phil Dale directed the piece, helped out by his assistant director Tom Brace. Also involved in the creative team were Katie Barker Dale, the choreographer, and Jeanne Stacey, the movement director.

With a huge chorus, and large pieces of set, the whole production felt like it was something big, and so the performances themselves had to be big, and they were. The big choral songs such as Consider Yourself and Food Glorious Food both looked visually impressive, and sounded wonderful, thanks to work from the musical director, Martin Lieberman (pictured left).

The main cast was extremely impressive, with the lead roles really setting the standard for the others in the show to live up to. Danny Gleeson stole the show as Fagin, amusing and captivating the audience with his renditions of Got to Pick a Pocket or Two, and Reviewing the Situation. Amy Moulder playing Nancy had hearts breaking with her performance of As Long as He Needs Me, and little Jake Poolman in the title role of Oliver tugged on the heartstrings with his beautiful rendition of Where Is Love. Another shining youngster was Will Edden playing the Artful Dodger, reprising his role after just finishing his run as Dodger in the national tour of Oliver, and his confidence and charisma were perfectly placed (pictured right).

Bill Sykes was played well by Steve Hannam, coming across as convincingly menacing and intimidating. Also notable were Ritchie Parrot and Pauline Gill, playing Mr Bumble and Widow Corney, with their raunchy opening song really stunning the audience.

You can read a review of the performance here, and view more pictures of the show here.

With Phoenix productions at the Rhodes going from strength to strength, it’s time to look forward to this year’s pantomime, Cinderella!

June 27, 2012

Phoenix Students Perform and Promote

by Phoenixphil

in Showcases

Oliver and Cinderella get the Phoenix Promo Treatment

Phoenix students have worked tirelessly over the past few weeks to help promote our forthcoming production of Oliver as well as the Rhodes pantomime. First up in June was the Rhodes Jubilee Garden Party, which despite the risk of a shower or two, attracted approximately 1500 people into the grounds of the Bishops Stortford Arts Centre. A temporary stage had been erected in the car park and amongst other acts, the audience were treated to 3 songs from Oliver performed by Amy Moulder, 18 (playing Nancy and pictured left) and Jake Poolman, 10 (playing Oliver).

Two weeks later, and further opportunities to promote both the school and the productions were exploited by our students. The Rhodes pantomime Cinderella was royally advertised by a float with Phoenix students playing most of the well known characters. Grace Wheeler, 17, will actually play the role of Cinderella in the forthcoming panto and was joined on the float by the only other 2 characters to already be cast; Dan James as Buttons and Phoenix Vice-principal Jeanne Stacey as the wicked Step-Mother. With auditions still a few weeks away, students Jack Downey and Conor O’Sullivan donned outrageous frocks to play the ugly sisters (pictured right), whilst Toby Gibbs stepped in as Prince Charming. The float was joined on its journey though Bishops Stortford Town Centre by the Phoenix Clowns who simultaneously entertained the crowds and distributed literature about the 2 forthcoming productions.

Once the float arrived at Sworders Field the work continued, especially for Grace, who changed out of her Cinderella gown and straight into Nancy’s dress to join Jake onstage to once again promote Oliver! (pictured left) Grace is understudy for Nancy and work commitments had kept Amy away from the carnival. There was one more costume change for both Jake and Grace towards the end of the day as the 6 winners of the Rhodes Talent Search were due to perform their winning acts. The Phoenix clowns were first to perform, followed by Jake singing Whistle Down the Wind and finally Phoenix KBD presented their version of Christina Perry’s Jar of Hearts with Grace singing the lead vocal.

It was a great 2 days for Phoenix and big thanks goes out to all the students who performed or helped out in any way. More pictures can be seen on the Phoenix Facebook page. Don’t forget auditions for Cinderella are just a week or so away and full details can be downloaded here.

May 21, 2012

Oliver! Auditions Attract Experienced Cast

by Phoenixphil

in Auditions

Over 100 Attend 2 days of Auditions for Smash Hit Musical

Last weekend saw over 100 people (young and old!) audition for Phoenix Theatre Arts production of the smash hit musical Oliver! The auditions attracted talent from all around  the surrounding areas and the production team were certainly spoilt for choice when it came down to casting principals and chorus members for the show in September. Phil Dale, Principal of Phoenix Theatre School and director of the show said:

“It is not an exaggeration to say that this was the hardest casting decision I have ever had to make in my 20+ years experience of producing theatre. The roles of Oliver and Dodger were particularly hard to cast due to the standard of talent we have in the local area! I’m really excited to start working with such a skilled cast!

Sunday’s auditions provided the team with no less than three young actors from the Cameron Mackintosh stage production of Oliver! William Edden, currently appearing  on the national tour as Dodger, will reprise his role for the production and Jake Poolman, currently on the national tour as Nipper will be taking the role of Oliver Twist. Dan Conlon, who has also appeared in the West End production of Oliver will also appear in Fagin’s gang in the Rhodes production. (pictured above) In all, 57 Phoenix students made up nearly half the number of those who auditioned, with 22 making the final cut for the show in September!

Friday’s audition for adult roles in the show also left the production team with plenty of tough decisions to make at the end of a very long evening. The turnout was hugely encouraging for Phoenix’s first Musical production in 3 years and nearly 40 adults were put through a gruelling 3 and a half hour singing, dancing and acting audition. Potential Nancy’s were thrown into the deep end and were asked to sing a song of their choice in front of production director Phil Dale, with most plumping for the well known and heart string tugging ‘As Long as He Needs Me’. Meanwhile, those auditioning for male roles such as Fagin and the notorious Bill Sykes were taken to read from the script with first time assistant director Tom Brace and Senior Drama tutor Jeanne Stacey, who will be musically staging the shows numbers. Tom had this to say:

“Friday night was a tough evening. Everyone did exceptionally well, which made our decision extremely hard on the night. I was surprised to see so many fresh new faces, who all took direction extremely well and gave us all a hard time!”

Eventually triple threat Phoenix student Amy Moulder (18) took the role of Nancy (pictured right). She will be playing alongside Steve Hannam  as the villainous Bill Sykes. Danny Gleeson, the puppeteer behind the Rhodes Pantomime’s evil witch villain Terroressa will be playing the less scary, but still quite dark role of Fagin.

Rehearsals start mid June and the show will run for 7 performances, opening on the 26th September. Tickets will be available online very shortly from the Rhodes website. A range of pictures from the 2 days of auditions can be seen on the Phoenix Facebook page.

February 27, 2012

Phoenix Students On National Tour with Oliver!

Principal Phil Dale travels to Manchester to see Will and Jake Phoenix Musical Theatre Students Will Edden and Jake Poolman are currently appearing in Cameron Mackintosh’s national tour of Oliver!, and Phoenix Principal Phil Dale and his wife Jules recently took a trip to Manchester to see them both perform onstage together. Will, 13, plays […]

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July 28, 2011


Phoenix Students to Perform Together in National Tour Will Edden and Jake Poolman from Phoenix are both set to appear in the National Tour of Oliver! which opens in Cardiff in December. Will, 13, who appeared as Nipper in the West End production 18 months ago so impressed Cameron Mackintosh that he has been asked […]

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