THE OPEN STAGE TEAM

All Open Stage practitioners work with us on a freelance basis, providing a wealth of skills and experience to teach a wide range of disciplines. Our staff are trained via accredited boards, obtaining a high level of knowledge and alongside their own experience from Disney to Broadway they guide our students young and old to fulfil their potential and dreams.

All staff members hold up to date DBS certificates and are trained professionals within their subjects, we also have qualifying staff who are able to train whilst working with us as part of our ever-growing team.

RACHAEL JEFFERY

COMPANY DIRECTOR

Rachael is a registered teacher member with ‘I-Path’ International Performing Arts and Theatre. She is also an Acrobatic Arts Certified Teacher with added AcroDance Pre-School teacher certification. She is currently studying ‘Dance Psychotherapy’. 

 

Rachael trained with ISTD, RAD, BTDA, IDTA and Acrobatic Arts in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Stage Dance, Modern Theatre Dance, Acrobatics plus Drama, Acting, Directing for the Stage and Vocal training. She plays five instruments and performed as a child to adulthood. 

Her theatre-based career began with Royal and Derngate in 1999. This experience combined with her studies and work within schools led her to form the ‘Open Stage Performance Group’. She later became an Associate Director for R&D theatres combining Open Stage with their youth theatre for a set period of time.

Open Stage has been a part of Rachael’s life for twenty years. She taught Saturday and evening classes alongside her theatre career. Original students now bring their own children along!

 

Rachael has directed and choreographed many stage shows, including writing and directing ‘The Divide’ (working with Chris Startup), a musical that premièred at the

Derngate. Offers of work came from theatre companies and so she became freelance. She was an artist, facilitator and performer for ‘Bamboozle Theatre Company’ for a decade and in 2006 she became Performing Arts Coordinator for Northgate School, supporting them to be the first secondary special needs school in the country to gain ‘Arts Status’. From 2008 she was Artistic Director for RIP Productions and continued performing, directing, choreographing, producing and writing plays and musicals. She was Artistic Director for Peterborough City Council's Musical Project designing and facilitating a programme that led a diverse community to perform alongside professional actors. 

She completed an MA in Performance Arts in 2011.

 

Rachael provided theatrical workshop design and delivery for The National Theatre London. 8 years ago she developed Open Stage further; adding more accredited examinations and initiating plans to move to permanent premises and continue to create better opportunities for all. She studied further Early Years qualifications and developed Open Stage’s 2-4 year old dance programme. Her self-designed multi-sensory baby programme ‘Multi-Sensory Hoo-Ha’ was viewed by an ISTD Fellowship member. She also designed and created ‘Great Big Story Book’. Rachael is keeping herself busy studying for a higher ballet teacher qualification and a dance therapy training course. She believes that CPD is important for all arts facilitators. 

 

Rachael has a very patient family that supports Open Stage. Her son Joe is a performer and her partner Steven is a writer. She is extremely proud of her staff and students and the continuous development of her positive, vibrant company. 

Lillian teaches Tap, Modern Theatre Dance, Cheerleading, Musical Theatre, Adult Tap and Adult Musical Theatre Dance for Open Stage.  

 

Lillian grew up in Scotland and graduated with a BA Hons in Musical Theatre. During her studies, and more recently with the Northampton Musical Theatre Company, she played several principal roles including parts in Sister Act, Whistle Down The Wind, Oklahoma!, Grease, Guys and Dolls, Blitz! and Little Shop of Horrors. She also performed as a dancer in the Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

 

Her professional work includes the title role in the pantomimes Dick Whittington and Aladdin, working as a dancer for Disneyland Resort Paris and being a Park Resorts Team Star running kids’ clubs and performing in the Team Star productions.

 

Lillian has more than 10 years teaching experience and is an ISTD qualified teacher, having attained her Diploma in Dance Education in Tap and Modern Theatre dance. She is also a qualified cheerleading coach through the UK Cheerleading Association. 

 

Since moving to Northampton Lillian has been teaching dance in primary and theatre schools. She has choreographed for youth productions of Annie, Matilda, and The Wizard of Oz, as well as many dance and theatre school variety shows. 

 

Lillian joined the Open Stage team in 2016, originally teaching Tap and Modern Theatre dance as well as introducing Cheerleading to the school. She has enjoyed the challenge of producing large-scale tap routines for our Derngate shows which featured more than 30 tap dancers aged 8 to 74!

 

Outside of Open Stage Lillian is kept busy looking after her two young boys as well as running her own dance school on Saturdays.

LILLIAN THORN

HARRIET QUINN

Harriet teaches various dance grades and classes at Open Stage and introduced Classical Greek to our pre-teen age group. She also leads early years community arts sessions alongside Miss Rachael. 


At the age of three, Harriet began dancing at the ‘Kilburn School of Dance’ studying Ballet, Modern, Tap, Classical Greek, National, Musical Theatre and Jazz.

She was very successful at dance festivals, regularly reaching the finals of the All England Dance Competition and achieving places at the National Finals. Harriet performed at the 'Dance Proms' at the Royal Albert Hall on two occasions and gained further performance experience by participating in local amateur and semi-professional dramatic performances.

She gained further training at the ‘Italia Conti Arts Centre’ where she completed her ISTD DDIs in Modern Theatre, National Folk Dance and Classical Greek. It was here that she discovered her love of choreography and teaching. She has since achieved her ISTD DDEs in Classical Greek and Modern Theatre and is now working towards the advanced Licentiate qualification.

Harriet teaches at several dance schools across Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire, she has been part of the Open Stage family since 2018 and continues to love every single moment of it!

Anna teaches various grades of ISTD Modern Theatre Dance and Tap classes and leads Senior Ballet and extra Pointe preparation classes.  She leads Jnr Drama and both Adult Ballet classes plus our beginner and improver adult tap classes. 
 

Anna began her training attending ballet lessons at age three. After moving to Northamptonshire she joined the Kilburn School of Dance learning RAD Ballet, ISTD Modern, Tap, Greek and National as well as free jazz classes. She consistently qualified to the All England Dance Finals, giving her great performance experience in a competitive environment. She also recently completed her practical National and Greek DDI exams at Kilburn gaining a high distinction in both.

Anna went on to train professionally in 2007 at what is now the Trinity Laban Centre, gaining a Diploma in Dance Education. She then completed her degree at Bird College in 2011, developing skills in Musical Theatre and Commercial Jazz as well as Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz, Tap, Singing and Acting.

After graduation she stayed in London, appearing in music videos for Kate Nash and DJ Madeon and adverts for Burberry and The Body Shop, as well as freelance dance performances. She performed in the Hamburg Christmas Spectacular in Germany and lived in New York during 2014, training at the Broadway Dance Centre on their International Student Visa Programme, focusing on Lyrical, Contemporary and Commercial Jazz, learning from world renowned choreographers in these genres. Whilst there Anna worked with the charity Live Vest Inside, promoting their international event ‘Dance for Kindness’ as well as appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America and in Bray Entertainment’s ‘A Phony Celebration’ holiday video.
 

After returning from New York Anna has continued to teach in schools around the county, including at Open Stage. She is an ISTD teacher and has her DDE in Tap and Greek and is currently working towards a DDE in Modern. She has also has a DDI in National and is working towards the advanced qualification of Licentiate Greek.

ANNA MAIR

KATIE WOOLNOUGH

Katie is an Acrobatic Arts teacher for Open Stage alongside Miss Rachael. She also teaches various grades of ISTD Ballet, Modern Theatre and Tap Dance and leads Open Stage workshops including limbering and strengthening, contemporary dance and pointe shoe preparation.

Katie was born in Northamptonshire and has over 15 years experience performing and teaching professionally in the industry. Katie is an Acrobatic Arts teacher for Open Stage alongside Miss Rachael. She also teaches various grades of ISTD Ballet, Modern Theatre and Tap Dance and leads Open Stage workshops including Limbering & Strengthening,  Contemporary dance and Pointe shoe Preparation.

 

As a child Katie trained at the The London Junior Ballet, Arts Educational School - Tring Park, and the London Studio centre, whilst completing major dance exams with RAD and
ISTD. She also performed competitively across the UK in Dance and Rhythmic Gymnastics, winning numerous competitions throughout her childhood including first place at The All England Dance Competition national finals in London.

 

Katie finalised her training with a scholarship to attend Laine Theatre Arts, whilst also gaining her diploma and teaching qualifications. After graduating Katie embarked on a dancing career which has seen her perform around the world in variety of award winning shows.

 

Katie has worked closely with the internationally recognised and spectacular
‘Belinda King Creative Productions’, as a performer, dance captain, teacher and show installer onboard some of the worlds most prestigious cruise liners. Most recently she had the privilege to work on a number of unique new shows for the company, along with the UK’s most sought after Director/Choreographer Gary Lloyd and world renowned lyricist Sir Tim Rice, for the Inaugural voyage of the Seabourn Encore.

Zoe’s dance life started at the age of three and she’s never looked back, she had lead roles in multiple school productions and completed A-levels in dance and theatre studies.

 

Zoe also completed her Performer’s Diploma at Margaret Howard Theatre College as well as her FDI qualifications and CDE practicals with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance, gaining teacher status for ballet, tap and modern theatre dance. She also performed two years running on MSC Mediterranean cruises.

 

Zoe became a dance teacher and developed her skills including good communication, artistic choreography and leadership which introduced her to early years work and she also trained and qualified within this field. She ran a successful dance business before moving to Northampton and believes dance should be accessible to everyone.

 

She has been with Open Stage for almost four years and teaches ballet, tap, modern and lyrical classes and private ballet tuition. She is a proud mum to her two young children.

ZOE TROTT

ELLIE CHANDLER

Gymnastricks guest coach 
 

Ellie leads our Open Stage Acrobatics Team.
 

Ellie found her passion for gymnastics at the age of 4, and has been training ever since, still partaking in her own classes to further her training. After joining the squads at Gymnastricks, she has performed in London twice, at Her Majesty’s Theatre and the Troxy. Ellie’s performance credits also include the Deco’s 2019 pantomime ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’. 

She first began coaching with Gymnastricks and after obtaining a Level 2 coaching award with UK Gymnastics, has led her own classes for the past four years.  Ellie provides gym and acrobatics coaching for various dance schools in Northamptonshire. 

A multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and performer, Chris has been playing and writing music for almost 20 years.

 

Chris has played with several collectives performing regularly on the English festival circuit and is part of popular folk band King's Gambit.

 

His credits include the  Glastonbury and Knockengorroch Festivals, The Big Green Gathering, Sunrise Festival, Solfest, Alchemy Festival, Endorsit Festival, Spratton Folk Festival, Bearded Theory Festival, Strawberry Fair, Small World Festival, Hawkfest, Nuts In May, Alchemy Festival, the Umbrella Fair and many more.

Chris is musical director for the Open Stage Choir and has worked with Rachael Jeffery for many years.

 

SHANNON BATT

Shannon teaches many Open Stage early years dance classes, facilitates ‘Multi-Sensory Hoo-Ha’ baby sessions and is also part of the Open Stage office and receptionist team.  She works with Open Stage babies to pensioners! 

 

Shannon trained in ballet, tap and modern theatre dance then studied further at Northampton College in both dance and musical theatre disciplines. She completed both the level 2 BTEC in Dance and progressed on to Level 3 BTEC in Musical Theatre and her teacher training commenced with Open Stage in 2016. She studies with and is examined by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and has also completed a Bronze Arts Award. Shannon enjoys training and developing her skills, she most recently completed a 'Level 2 Teaching Assistant Diploma'. 

 

Shannon is a member of the ‘Open Stage Theatre Company’, she competed in several Open Stage Performance Awards over the years, achieving various medals and first place in 2017 drama category. 

 

Her theatre credits include ‘His Dark Materials’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘The Bright Lights of Broadway’.  Shannon has been cast lead roles in Open Stage Theatre Company productions many times. She also performed alongside Collabro at the Derngate theatre in 2017. 

 

Shannon thoroughly enjoys teaching for Open Stage and is looking forward to progressing her dance teacher training further with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance.

Alice is an early years and beginner's grades dance teacher at Open Stage. She also leads Street Pop, Street Dance and works with our Home School students.  She is an Open Stage receptionist and supports students with additional needs. 

 

Alice studied ballet, tap, modern theatre dance, singing, drama, musical theatre and private vocal tuition from a young age, training with Rachael Jeffery and her team since the age of 9.  She completed the Musical Theatre BTEC at Northampton College and a HNC in Dance with a focus on teaching, most recently completing Level 2,3 & 4 of an SEND Diploma to support her links with Open Stage students that have additional needs. 

 

Alice loves being an Open Stage teacher, she and is a member of and examined by, the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance.  She continues to further her training and gain teaching experience with Open Stage. 

 

Alice is also a member of the ‘Born to Perform’ dance school team in Northampton. 

 

Her performing credits include Gang Shows and many performances at The Deco Theatre, Derngate Theatre and Her Majesty's Theatre London. She has taken part in and won many drama, vocal and dance competitions. 

ALICE BROWN

ASSOCIATE FREELANCERS

CLARISSA PAYNE

Born in Northampton, Clarissa has been involved in dance, drama and singing since a young age and IT has always been a huge part in her life. She began training in 2001 at Chaplin's Stage School. She took dance examinations in Ballet, Modern, Tap and Lyrical achieving grades from Prep to Intermediate level. She has also achieved major dance examinations in RAD, ISTD and LAMDA drama exams.
 

During her training, Clarissa was involved in many pantomimes and both amateur and professional musical theatre productions, including performing in the West End production of The King and I at the Royal and Derngate. She continued training at Northampton College studying a Level 3 Diploma in Musical Theatre, where she achieved a triple distinction. Clarissa finalised her training with a scholarship to attend Bodyworks Company in Cambridge, where she recently graduated gaining a Level 6 Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre.

 

Since graduating, Clarissa has been working professionally including with KD Productions in The Great British Seaside Special at The Princess Theatre in Hunstanton and playing Maid Marion in a musical adaption of Robin Hood with Image Musical Theatre which tours across the UK to primary schools and theatres.

 

Clarissa has been with Open Stage for seven years starting as a student teacher and also taking part in their productions. Clarissa is pleased to be back to share her knowledge and experiences of the performing arts industry with Open Stage students.

Shannon has been dancing since the age of nine, learning ballet, tap and modern. She has just completed her Level 3 Diploma in Dance at Northampton College with high grades and successfully gained a professional dancing role in the latest Christmas pantomime at the Deco Theatre.

 

From the age of nine she began training with her local gym club Gymnastricks, and since then has gone from strength to strength. She is now a certified coach at Gymnastricks and also supports the younger classes, as well using her skills to coach at other schools including Open Stage.

At Open Stage we are very pleased to have such great relationships with other schools like Gymnastricks, who provide us with skilled staff like Shannon.

SHANNON AHERN

CHRIS GAGE

Chris trained at the Doreen Bird College of Performing Arts, Circus Space and the Central School of Speech and Drama.

 

He had his West End debut at age 15 in Oliver! at the London Palladium and after completing his training has had many roles in international tours and West End productions such as The Lord of the Rings, West Side Story, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies where he was also aerial/acro supervisor.

His other work includes television and radio in the UK and abroad, plus he worked with director Danny Boyle and performed in both the opening and closing ceremonies at London 2012. He recently performed in the UK tour of Barnum produced by Cameron Mackintosh, and was also circus captain for the show.

 

He has trained in skills such as acrobatics, stilt walking, poi, staff, tight wire, stage combat, trapeze (swinging, fixed & flying), aerial hoop and silks to name but a few! He still performs professionally including in the 2018 major West End revival of musical Chess but has also turned his attention to training others and now works as head aerialist/acrobat and circus trainer at The Circus School in Northampton.

Katie grew up in West Los Angeles, and is an alumni of Hamilton Academy of Music’s musical theatre program. 

 

She received her BFA in Drama from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts and while in New York, she had the pleasure of working for several very prestigious theatre companies including Les Freres Corbusier, Daryl Roth Productions, Transport Group, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Punchdrunk Productions, Big League Productions and Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Her most recent commercial spots include Cost Cutters, HEB and Toyota.

After years of working in professional theatre and film, Katie served as the inaugural creative director of Put Art In Your Heart Dance Studios in Austin, Texas.

 

She went on to be a lead instructor at the Broadway Performing Arts Center and Create Dance Center in New York City, as well as a lead instructor and staff curriculum trainer at Miss Melodee's Dance Studio in Los Angeles. Katie was also the resident choreographer and dance instructor for Children's Civic Light Opera in Los Angeles, where she choreographed productions of Into the Woods and Peter Pan.

 

Since moving to the UK, Katie has taught and choreographed for Step on Stage Performing Arts, Sinead Loughnane Academy, and Open Stage Performing Arts Company. She is a proud member of the ISTD.

KATIE ADAMS

SOPHIE WILLIAMS

Sophie is a member of the ISTD, has qualifications in ballet, tap and modern and also teaches lyrical and jazz.

 

She has a wealth of experience and knowledge gained during an exciting career which includes dancing (and roller skating!) as part of the cast of Starlight Express in the West End, plus TV and radio work including The Bill, BBC Radio and Sky Sports. 

Professional singer and experienced music and singing teacher Sophie was one of the very first artists to perform on main stage at London’s O2 Arena and has supported McFly, the Sugababes and Will Young.

 

She has performed at hundreds of festivals clubs throughout the UK and Europe and picked up a The Perrier Young Jazz Vocalist of the Year award. Along with countless radio and television appearances as well as writing music for film she has released three albums to critical acclaim.

 

She has a PGCert in Applied Professional Practice; pedagogy of the voice and is currently undertaking the second half of her masters degree focusing on young people in the arts.
 

Sophie is also a vocal coach for ITV’s The Voice Kids.

SOPHIE GARNER

SUPPORT TEAM

Julie joined the Open Stage Theatre Company in 2014, and has gone to play several leading roles including the wicked queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Billie Gecko in the 2017 production of Alice at Wonderland at the Derngate. She also won the drama trophy at the Open Stage Performance Awards in 2016.

She is a member of the Open Stage Choir and joined the staff team in 2015. She is an arts practitioner for Great Big Noise and Multi-Sensory Hoo-Ha! sessions, and also supports children's birthday parties and other Open Stage events. 

She is also part of Open Stage's administrative team and is the company's HR and policy lead. You will often see her on the weekday reception desk too, ensuring both current and new students, and their families, always receive a warm welcome.

JULIE TAPSCOTT

ANNALEE BOUGOURD

Annalee has been part of Open Stage since 2013, initially joining the Open Stage Choir and then going on to join the Open Stage Theatre Company the following year. She also takes part in adult dance classes at Open Stage.

She has played several leading roles with the theatre company including the evil stepmother in Cinderella and the Baron in Mother Goose. She won first place for drama in the adult category at the first-ever Open Stage Performance Awards in 2015 and the overal trophy for singing in 2019. She also enjoys being part of Open Stage's annual summer productions.

 

She is responsible for marketing and promotion at Open Stage and as well as online course and event bookings. She is an arts practitioner for Multi-Sensory Hoo-Ha! sessions, and also supports many Open Stage events as well as the weekday reception desk.

'KARAN IN THE KITCHEN'

'JEAN ON RECEPTION'

'AUNTIE IRIS'

Open Stage wouldn't be the same without these three ladies!

Karan is based in the kitchen on a Saturday, running the tuck shop, helping families buy uniform and much more. Occasionally she is allowed to leave the kitchen to help with Open Stage events such as our seasonal fayres or theatre productions where she can often be found running a raffle, managing the tombola or selling refreshments behind the bar. She also ensures that Open Stage's weekly finances are kept in order. 

Jean has worked with Open Stage for many years as our Saturday receptionist, helping to make sure the school runs smoothly despite the many students who access classes with us on a Saturday. She's the first person our families see when they arrive. Jean also helps at Open Stage events, often selling refreshments or helping with the tombola.

Auntie Iris is a weekly volunteer at Open Stage doing numerous jobs from sewing and making costumes, filing, DIY and much, much more! She is also a ballet student in our Thursday adult class!