To have made your West End debut by the age of eleven is impressive, but Isabella (Issy), whose credits include singing with musical theatre star Kerry Ellis, takes it in her stride.
“I have been singing, dancing and acting since I was four-and-a-half and I absolutely love it,” the little girl with the huge smile told me.
“I have made loads of friends and our teachers are amazing. They really support us, but they know when to be strict to get the best out of us. We are like one big family.”
A pupil at Bognor’s Art of Dance & Fitness school (adf), which also hosts Shine Time Musical Theatre & Acting classes, aforementioned teachers Lisa, Tracey and Laura not only nurture young talent, but they also understand how their classes can be translated into life skills.
“Dancing, singing and drama classes are a fantastic way for children to develop confidence, coordination, presentation skills and self-discipline” said Laura Green. “Issy is very talented, but her dedication, passion and attitude really stand out. She is phenomenal; a triple threat who always gives 100%.”
With professional highlights including The Wind in the Willows at the Mayflower Theatre, Pinocchio in the West End and a showcase at Her Majesty’s Theatre, home of Phantom of the Opera, Issy gets a real buzz from performing.
“Our Musical Theatre troupe did the show at Her Majesty’s and it was amazing! It was so exciting to be on such a big stage.”
Closer to home, Issy and some of her fellow adf students will perform alongside the professional cast of Aladdin at Bognor’s Alexandra Theatre.
“It is my sixth pantomime at the Alexandra Theatre, but it will be my last because I’ll be too tall next year,” she sighed, adding: “Being in the theatre over Christmas is really fun. You have to work hard, but it is lovely to make everyone’s Christmas feel special when they come to the show.”
Also participating in festivals and competitions, Issy’s Shine Time/adf musical theatre troupe will perform ‘Showcase 17’ at 6.30pm on 11 November at the Showrooms, Chichester University.
“We’re doing loads of different group musical numbers from shows like Wicked!, Matilda and 13, and also some solo singing and acting,” said Issy, who has her eye on the future.
I would love to be an actress, or maybe a director,” she said, with another mile-wide grin.
Watching Issy and the troupe in action it is clear that whatever these children do in later life, if they apply the same dedication and enthusiasm they’ll reach the top of their chosen professions in record time. Probably doing ‘jazz hands’ as they get there.
If you love musical theatre, an open audition for places in the Shine Time/adf Musical Theatre troupe will take place on Sunday 26 November at Art of Dance & Fitness in Bersted. Boys and girls aged 6 – 16 welcome. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tickets for Showcase 17: 01243 840755 (£8.00 each)
Further information: www.artofdanceandfitness.co.uk
By Vicky Edwards
Photo: Rachel Poulton