Matt Flies to Agrabah

Matthew Croke

We’re thrilled to say that former pupil Matthew Croke has landed the lead role in Disney Theatrical Production‘s Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End!

Matt will join the current cast and star as Aladdin himself opposite former Sugababe Jade Ewan as Jasmine and Trevor Dion Thomas playing the Genie. This immensely popular magical musical opened last June 2016 and Matthew will take on the role on 5th June.

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In addition to his professional musical theatre career, Matt has been a part-time teacher at the Berry Academy of Dance, bringing new skills, choreography, and his experience to benefit our pupils. We couldn’t be prouder of his achievements and we cannot wait to see him taking up his harem trousers and magic carpet very soon!

If you’d like to find out more about Matt, please click here.

To read more about the cast changes afoot at Aladdin, please click here.

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June: The Month That Keeps On Giving

Well well well… we have been busy! We’ve achieved rather a lot in the first week of June and the month’s main even, Miss Dance of Great Britain, hasn’t even happened yet! Here’s what the month of June holds for Sharon Berry School of Theatre Dance:2016.06.06 Two Counties 03

Two Counties Dance Festival
Our Berry Babes did us proud last week at the Two Counties Dance Festival. There were trophies galore as nine of our pupils were invited to dance in the Bursary competition at the end of the week’s activities (some of them were nominated more than once!).2016.06.06 Two Counties 04

Well done to Rebecca Hanneman, Alexandra O’Brien, Bree Quinton, Ewan Revill, Gabriel Sharrock, Jack Skelton, Eve Wainwright, Aliyah Xaba and Laylah Xaba for earning their spot in the Bursary section. An even bigger congratulations to Rebecca Hanneman for winning Senior Bursary prize! 2016.06.06 Two Counties 06
There were too many medal wins to count but a few highlights are the Junior Character section, in which our pupils swept the board from 1st-4th place with Eva Cadet, Megan Bridger, Gracie Smedley and Maddison Buckley. Abigail Bridger took a 1st place in her Tap while our seniors and their Top Hat troupe also took a gold brushing off their white coats.
Well done to everyone who represented the school, working hard and always with a smile!2016.06.06 Two Counties 07

IDTA Scholarship Nominations
A big congratulations to Ewan, Gabriel and Jack for being nominated for their Grade 4 Theatre Craft examinations – they will be dancing at the 2017 IDTA Theatre Dance Awards in Manchester next year.2016.06.06 Two Counties 09

Staff Success
Well done to Miss Rebecca Akers who has achieved the position of Fellow of the International Dance Teachers’ Association through her qualifications in Modern Jazz. We’re very glad all the hard work paid off! Miss Rebecca and Miss Marie Horner also won awards at Two Counties Dance Festival.2016.06.06 Two Counties 08

Singin’ In The Rain
Our lovely former pupil and guest teacher Matt Croke is assuming the lead role of Don Lockwood at Singin’ in the Rain – which this month will be performed at Bolton’s Octagon Theatre for a month! Tickets are nearly sold out so book soon to avoid disappointment.2016.06.06 Singin in the Rain 01

All Good Things
Preparations are now well underway for our school production, All Good Things. We have now sold out for Saturday’s evening performance and are nearly sold out for the matinee! If you would like tickets please get in touch with Pete Berry at 0114 246 6126 or by email at psberry43@gmail.comShow 2014

Miss Dance of Great Britain 2016
Well… this hardly needs an introduction as one tenth of the competitors of this prestigious event are homegrown Berry Babes! Sunday 12th June and Blackpool won’t know what hits it as hundreds of Team Berry pile into the Winter Gardens Theatre to cheer on our fantastically talented girls, Rebecca Hanneman, Alexandra O’Brien, Bree Quinton, Charlotte Stones and Bridie Thorpe. We can’t wait to see you on that stage girls, best of luck, we know you don’t need it.

So stay tuned! Lots of exciting things happening at the Sharon Berry School in the coming weeks…Too Darn Hot 2014

Blame it on the Boogie!

You can imagine our delight on Saturday night as we watched our very own former pupil, Devon McKenzie-Smith, breeze onto the Jonathan Ross Show on ITV1!

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Dev looking fantastic on the far left

Devon appeared to promote the West End’s latest fabulous production, Motown: The Musical, written by legendary Motown record producer and songwriter, Berry Gordy.

Performing as 1/5 of one of the most famous and popular Motown acts ever, the Jackson 5, we were thrilled to see Dev donning an afro and flares – it took us back to our own great 70s show numbers!

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Keep your eyes peeled for Devon and the cast of Motown: The Musical on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

To watch Devon in action, take a look at Motown: The Musical‘s segment on the show on Saturday. Dev makes his appearance at 12:00.

A Berry Happy New Year To You

Well, what a year 2015 has been – perhaps one of the best? While Christmas has been creeping up on us we’ve been getting into the mood with some fantastic events; special mention for the Christmas Fayre organised by our fabulous Fundraising Committee and not forgetting the fandabbydozy Christmas Concert! We were thrilled to sell out all the tickets and see so many friends and family there to support us, and well done to the pupils and staff for putting together a brilliant show.

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In the spirit of the new year we’re reflecting on this one. So here goes, we hope you enjoy looking back. In 2015 we’ve been…

  • Raising the roof at Miss Dance 2015…

Three of our very talented cohort, Misses Rebecca Hanneman, Bree Quinton & Bridie Thorpe performed in the Final of Miss Dance 2015 held at the immense Winter Gardens Theatre in Blackpool.

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  • Bursting with pride at Billy Elliot’s latest cast member…bradley

This year our pupil Bradley Mayfield took on the role of Michael, Billy’s best friend, in the smash hit Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre in September. After an extremely successful 11 years on the West End, the show will close its doors in April 2016 – we’re very proud to say that the very first Billy was a Berry Boy and so is the last Michael!

  • Backing up Gary, Howard & Owen to 40,000 people…

In June Mrs Berry was given a very special mission: Get together an ensemble, a troupe if you like, of adults to perform on the stage with Take That during their 3 dates at Sheffield Arena. Like with most challenges, Mrs B tackled this one with aplomb, and the choreography was learned, the songs already tattooed into our brains, and the performances were smashed.

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  • Strutting to Burlesque success…

Our former pupil, Miss Alice Wilson, alias Didi Derriere, stormed to victory in the national grand final of Miss Burlesque Idol 2015. Congratulations!

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  • Getting engaged…

Congratulations to Miss Alicia and her new fiancé Dan on their engagement! We can’t wait for the wedding.

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  • Waving off (temporarily we hope) a very talented young man…

One of our pupils, Frankie Beetlestone, had his talent recognised by the clever folks at Sylvia Young Theatre School; after a competitive entry process, Frankie was invited to carry out intensive musical theatre training alongside his studies at the school in London.

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Frankie and Mrs Berry
  • Training the teachers of tomorrow…

Our class helpers undertook their first teaching qualification exams and passed with flying colours (Honours). Well done to Molly Barrrowclough, Megan Clixby, Elle Longden-Lyons, Charlotte Stones & Leah Tucci for achieving their Pre-Associate Theatre Craft Part 1.

  • Continuing to represent on the West End…

Former pupils and part-time teachers Matthew Croke and Devon McKenzie-Smith continue to divide their time between musicals in London and our pupils up here in Sheffield. Matt finished his second stint in Wicked as understudy for Fiyero and has gone on to join Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl at the Chocolate Menier Factory. Dev has been performing alongside Beverley Knight in Memphis, a brand new musical which took place at the Shaftsbury Theatre.

  • Enchanting audiences in a little place in France…

One of our biggest achievements this year was transporting a group of 36 very excited young dancers to Disneyland Paris in the summer to perform to park guests on the Videopolis stage. The children performed magically, the staff put together fantastic routines, and as per usual, the fans (mums, dads, nans, grandads, brothers, sisters and friends) were their usual, enthusiastic (if a little wild) and noisy selves. What a wonderful few days, we hope you treasure the memories as much as we do.

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  • Sparkling in Blackpool (again)…

A little group of our pupils this year took part in Northern Star, a talent competition held in Blackpool incorporating the disciplines of dance, singing and musical theatre. Not only were we thrilled to see all our pupils put through to the final, we were incredibly proud to see Eleanor Jackson take runner-up!

  • Oh no you don’t-ing across South Yorkshire…

This year our pupils make up the Junior performers in three pantomimes in the area. At Rotherham Civic, going to the ball with Cinderella, are Abigail Bridger, Megan Bridger, Grace Mitchell, Leila Steer, Lilli Walker, Evie Wright & Laylah Xaba. Back in Sheffield at the LyceumEva CadetMaddie DunnMaisie GanleyLucy Holcroft, Eleanor Jackson, Megan Moore, Megan Thorpe, Renée Warren and Aliyah Xaba are performing in Aladdin. Up the road at City Hall are Ewan Revill and Jack Skelton, also performing in Cinderella. 

  • Competing at dance festivals around the region…

Whether at Goldthorpe, Cantley, Two Counties or Penistone Festival – we’re very proud of our pupils in the hard work they put in and the good sportsmanship showed throughout these competitive events. Particular mentions to Miss Isabelle Sykes, winner of Senior Bursary at Two Counties Festival.

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  • ‘Working’ overseas in places exotic and beautiful…

Miss Lois was missed this year as she took up her 9 month contract in the Costa del Sol working as part of the hotel entertainment team. Our former pupil Hollie Glossop was also the dance captain on a 6 month contract in Malta. Since then she has embarked upon the Marco Polo as part of the cruise ship’s entertainment, recently checking in from Portugal.

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  • Channelling our inner Kate Moss…

Four of our pupils, Abigail Bridger, Maisie Ganley, Rebecca Hanneman and Jack Skelton were selected by to appear in Images Dance Costumes’ 2015 catalogue. Further to this, Jack, Rebecca, Bridie Thorpe and Conner Povey have been modelling for the 2016 catalogue, which is out now.

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  • Dancing our socks off in Manchester…

At the International Dance Teachers Association’s Theatre Dance Awards, pupils who were specially selected during their grades exams danced in front of adjudicators and choreographers at the Dancehouse Theatre. Emily Gay, Liberty Shepherd and Eve Wainwright were beautiful in their Grade 5 Ballet section. Meanwhile, Rebecca Hanneman, Alexandra O’Brien, Bree Quinton, Charlotte Stones and Bridie Thorpe were fantastic in both Intermediate Modern Jazz and Intermediate Theatre Craft. We were especially thrilled when Rebecca, Bree and Bridie were awarded special commendations for their Theatre Craft, and Bree and Bridie also received the honour for their Modern Jazz performance.

  • Breaking records left right and centre…

Bridie Thorpe has smashed the record previously held by Rebecca Hanneman for IDTA grade exam results; our extremely talented young lady achieved her Advanced 1 Modern Jazz qualification with a stunning 96 marks.

  • Ramping up for a spectacular 2016…

Our pupil Jack Skelton has two nominations under his belt for Grade 4 Modern Jazz and Grade 5 Tap, while Rebecca Hanneman, Bree Quinton, Charlotte Stones and Bridie Thorpe were nominated for their performance in their Intermediate Tap exams. These four girls and Alexandra O’Brien were also nominated for their Advanced 1 Modern Jazz exam – so we’re looking forward to Scholarships next Spring.

Alexandra, Bree, Bridie, Charlotte & Rebecca are also working towards Miss Dance 2016. Bree, Bridie & Rebecca have won heats and already secured their places in the final next June, while it can only be a matter of time for Alex and Charlotte; we wish you all the best girls.

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Well there you have it. Coming up in 2016, All Good Thingsour bi-annual school production – stay tuned for more details. We wish an incredibly happy and prosperous new year from our family to yours.

See you back at class Monday 4th!

 

 

Burlesque Star

An immense congratulations to our former pupil , who took the title of Miss Burlesque Idol last week! After heats across the country, the competition hotted up at London’s Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square with the Grande Finale.

On stage as her alter ego, Didi Derriere, Alice performed her heart out like the blonde bombshell she is, drawing from her theatrical training at Arts Educational School and of course here at Sharon Berry School of Theatre Dance. The audience loved it, and more importantly, so did the judges.

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In a packed house, our lovely Alice stepped up to take that ever-important crown. Congratulations Miss Didi Derriere! We wish you all the best, and can’t wait to see what you do next.

To read an interview with Alice, please click here. To find out more about Alice’s work as Didi Derriere, please click here.

Amanda Constantinou

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Amanda studied performing arts at the prestigious Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London and began her career touring the country as principal actress with a children’s theatre company. After that she toured with Michelle Breeze as singer/dancer in her variety show and then left for the high seas to work for Celebrity Cruises and then the Italia Prima on a world cruise as a dancer/singer.

Amanda’s first West End credit was in Starlight Express in the principal role of Ashley at the Apollo Theatre.

Her next role was in the original cast of Closer to Heaven, written by the Pet Shop Boys at the Arts Theatre where she also understudied the lead.

She then appeared in the original cast of Jus like that at the Garrick Theatre with Jerome Flynn.

Amanda’s other career highlights include:

– Work on various musical shows and charity galas at the Palace Theatre, the Millennium Stadium and Royal Albert Hall

– Performed in a special production of The Lion King produced for a birthday party for the Scandinavian royal family

– Featured in numerous adverts for Archers, Datec.com, Vodafone, Iceland and Abba Just Dance

– A featured Zombie in the film 28 Weeks Later

– Danced for Robbie Williams on Top of the Pops and for the video of his tour

– Danced and skated for Madonna on her Sorry music video

– Performed on various television shows including The Word, Pebble Mill and Graham Norton

Amanda also formed and runs Muse Artists, a succesful events company providing entertainment for prestigious events like film premieres, perfume launches and huge events at the National History Museum, Hampton Court, the Wallis Collection, Madame Tussauds, and supplied the entertainment for England’s biggest corporate Christmas party company.

Now she runs her own school, All Stars Academy, and she has recently helped coach skaters for the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, in which she will also be performing.

She does all this while also looking after her two children!

Love Letter To Team Berry

I am the proof that even if you’re not good at dancing – there’s appreciation for all talents here at the Sharon Berry School of Theatre Dance. Just kidding – I wasn’t that bad, in fact my last exam was Intermediate Modern Jazz and earned me a very respectable 87 marks… my Ballet and Tap grades tell a very different story!

I began my glorious performing arts career in 1998, after sitting in the audience at All Around The World, watching my bosom pal, Charlotte Beresford, tearing up the stage as Po. It was there, gazing at my Teletubbied-chum that I decided I too wished to strut around in leotards and white and brown eye shadow for all the S5 and S6 community to see. That September, aged 5, I arrived at Malin Bridge’s glamorous nursery terrapin, and launched one of the most expensive and rewarding hobbies my mum was yet to fund under the watchful eye of Miss Gemma.

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The very same Teletubbies who inspired my love affair with the theatre
I quickly blossomed. I couldn’t quite manage shuffle ball changes and I’ll never forgive myself for missing my forward roll cue in A Century In Dance, but my undeniably cute face and cheesy performing technique caught the eye of top dog Mrs B, and I was catapulted to the intoxicating fame of dance festivals.

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Edgy eyeshadow combination, thanks mum
It must be said that I peaked age 9. Still cheesy, I could sing, and the adjudicators weren’t looking so much at my feet. Together, Charlotte and I delivered the (disturbingly) sauciest Aye, Aye, Aye routine ever seen at Cantley Community Centre. I made it into the open for 75% of my solos – very impressive considering I forgot all my routines and made them up (sorry Miss Rebecca).

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Look at that face – Racy Aye Aye Aye
The most exciting experiences I had at dancing class were getting to perform in professional shows. The youngest Berry Babe of our first ever pantomime, Peter Pan, I made quite a splash (literally). From getting locked into the toilets while being called to the stage (sorry Beverley), to spilling coke on my costume (sorry Miss Rebecca, again) to the ultimate achievement: There aren’t many people who can say Mrs Berry’s mopped up their wee, and I think I am the only one who can say it happened on Sheffield’s Lyceum stage. In my defence, I was only seven years old.

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Pre-wee Peter Pan photo – that’s me being hugged by Mel Fox in the middle
Upon hitting puberty, I decided I was far too mature to simply learn. I made the generous decision to share my knowledge with the younger generations. My first baby class contained the likes of Grace Harby and Maddie Dunn – so remember girls, you owe those beautiful skips to moi. Helping out at class was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Getting a 13 year old out of bed at 8.30 is difficult at the best of times, but on a Saturday I couldn’t wait to get to class to see if Isobel could do her good toes this week or whether Courtney had figured out her shuffle hops.

I was duly punished for my dedication to the baby class by being invited (made) to perform with them as Mama Chicken in Can’t Stop The Beat. I was around this time that I performed as Shprintze for the Crucible’s Christmas show, Fiddler on the Roof. I went twice to summer school at Performer’s College with Amy, Becky, Hollie & Jodie and lost half a stone in a week after dancing for five hours a day – the life of a professional dancer. I wasn’t cut out for it. It would serve however to motivate my friend Hollie to take up dance as a career, and it’s fantastic that she’s now performing professionally in Malta.

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Had to be done
I studied French and Italian at the University of Liverpool, and I must say, the separation from Thomas More Community Centre was too much to bear. I had to find a way to stay in with the dancing family. I proposed my idea to Mrs Berry, and, very trustingly, she went with it. The first Sharon Berry School blog went live in June 2012. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I annoyed a lot of people by sending them endless nudges for articles and photos (sorry Matt and Marie). Two and a half years since then, that website has been visited 85,000 times.

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Stylish Hairspray costumes
I became the official photographer, much to Kirsten and Alex’s frustration, as I asked them to split leap for me over and over again trying to capture that perfect moment. I’ve had the chance to write articles and stay in touch with the achievements of this school’s pupils and staff. They deserve to be published.

The new Sharon Berry School website (that you are now viewing) came about while I was trying to avoid an essay about Charles II. (Fun fact: Coronation mugs and other such tat date back to 1661). I wanted something fresher and more modern, and hopefully I managed to do that.

I hope Berry Babes who don’t feel like they’re the best at a certain type of dancing take heart from this. Us staff can tell when you’re trying hard and we can tell when you’re dossing. I might be nerdy, sometimes uncoordinated, and surprisingly, not destined to be a professional dancer – but I have learned that if you work hard, you earn respect.

I am very proud to run Mrs Berry’s website. I enjoy finding out what you’re all up to whether I’m wrestling scallies in Liverpool or supping prosecco in Italy. The school helped and is still helping me to fulfill my potential, and it’s always wonderful to see when it’s doing that for everyone else too.

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Enjoying staff retreat to Whitby, March 2015, with my number 1 lady, Miss Amy

Kimberley Adshead

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I went to Mrs Berry’s for 13 years and my favourite classes were Gymnastics and Modern Jazz. Before I left I reached the final of the very prestigious Miss Dance competition. It was a brilliant experience in which I performed my favourite dance of all time. I did all the competitions!

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I left Mrs Berry’s age 18 to go to Phil Winston’s Dance College in Blackpool where I completed a three-year course. After leaving there I came to Tenerife to dance in various shows touring hotels. I’m still here 10 years later! I’m now performing in a show called The Sound of Musicals. My own daughter Kaci has started dancing.

I had the best years at this dancing school and without Mrs Berry I would not be where I am today.

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James Lomas

james lomas James began dancing at Sharon Berry School of Theatre dance a couple of weeks before his 13th birthday after being told at school he would need the three disciplines of dance, singing and drama to fulfill his dream of performing in the West End. It was Mrs Berry’s idea that he should go for his first audition to London for the new musical Billy Elliot. After successfully beating 3,000 other candidates, James became one of the three original Billy Elliots to play the part in the West End’s Victoria Palace Theatre. He was involved in the development of the role of Billy from the very beginning, and contributed to the success of the show with critically acclaimed performances in acting, singing and dancing. The show opened on 31 March 2005. In that year, he won the Variety Club’s Outstanding New Talent Award and also the Theatre Goers’ Choice of Most Promising New Comer. He also jointly won the prestigious Sir Laurence Olivier Award in 2006 for Best Actor in a Musical.

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James as Billy

James was featured in Strictly Dance Fever performing part of the musical finale and in several TV interviews and short clips related to the musical. In July 2006 he played the lead role of young blind Nicholas Saunderson in the new musical No Horizon in Penistone, and was well received for his performances. After leaving the show in 2006, James won a place at Millennium performing arts school in London, where he completed his National Diploma in Musical Theatre in 2009. After graduation, he went on to perform in the West End production of Dirty Dancing at the Aldwych Theatre. He then joined the national UK tour of Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat, playing Joseph on several occasions. He spent a deal of time in Bochum, Germany, performing in Starlight Express.

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In costume for Starlight Express

James is now part of the band Gypsy Queens who are based in Nice in the south of France, where he now lives. They perform at private parties all over the world.

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James (far left), performing with his band the Gypsy Queens

Devon McKenzie-Smith

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Devon started at Mrs Berry’s when he was 12 when he and Matt came from the Maureen Law School of Dance. During his time with us he was nominated for the IDTA Scholarships many times and won special commendations in 2003/4 for Grade 5 Tap and Theatre Craft. He was also the winner of the Ken Dodd Tap Award.

In 2006, at the age of 16, he came third in Dance Master UK, performing at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool. Later that year he went on to study for his National Diploma in Musical Theatre at Laine Theatre Arts College. While there both he and Matt competed in a tap competition held at the college, and Matt, feeling generous, used one of his old routines and choreographed a new one for Devon… he regretted it in the end because Devon ended up beating him with it!

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After graduating in 2009 he went on tour to Germany with the musical Hairspray for two years, managing to resist the urge to learn any German while he was there. He performed in Aladdin at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton in 2011.

In 2012 Devon taught classes and workshops in London and performed in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Games.

Since then he has played a Shark on the national UK tour of West Side Story which began in Liverpool in 2013 and ended in summer 2014. In his spare time he has come back to Sheffield to teach our pupils exciting new routines and give them insight into the life of a professional dancer.

Devon was very excited to be joining the cast of Memphis, a new musical which arrived in London’s West End in October 2014. The starring role is taken by Beverley Knight, and the production won Best New Musical at the What’s On Stage Awards.