WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO
A MUSICAL THEATRE EXPERIENCE YOU WILL NEVER FORGET
With a heritage of 80 years, the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company is one of the largest youth musical theatre groups in the UK. We work with people aged 7-21 from all backgrounds to produce vibrant, innovative and original theatre across east Suffolk’s top venues.
We love working with young people and pride ourselves on our family ethos and sense of community. Every new membership year, our cast grow to look upon each other as family and make close friends for life.
As a charity, we aim to make our performing arts opportunities accessible to as many young people as possible. To honour the legacy of Pauline Walker, an inspirational director of the company for 40 years, the Pauline Walker Bursary Fund enables us to provide bursaries and financial support for our members.
We have worked with generations of performers and we’re proud that our members develop the skills and confidence they need to train professionally at leading UK drama schools with many currently performing in London’s West End.
We believe in the power and value of creativity. In a safe, inclusive and inspiring environment, we give young people the confidence to realise their full potential though the expressive and collaborative process of making theatre.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
A member of the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company from 1997 to 2010, Oliver trained at The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, graduating with a BA (Hons) in Design for Performance. He has since worked across Suffolk as a theatre maker specialising in directing for musical theatre, set & costume design, puppetry and creative workshops for young people.
For the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company, Oliver has directed and designed NODA award-winning productions, including Cats & Oliver! (New Wolsey Theatre), Barnum (Wherstead Park), Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure (Trinity Park) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Snape Maltings Concert Hall). Oliver has also contributed staging and design towards many other productions, including Phantom of the Opera (New Wolsey Theatre), Starlight Express (Hush House) and the annual Christmas Spectacular! at Snape Maltings Concert Hall.
Lucy Allen joined the Co-op Juniors Theatre company aged 6 and went on to train at the Italia Conti Theatre Academy of Theatre Arts. She has performed in over 20 Co-op Juniors Theatre Company productions, directed Sister Act (New Wolsey Theatre) and has directed / choreographed the annual Christmas Spectacular! (Snape Maltings Concert Hall) since 2017.
Ellena trained at the Italia Conti Theatre Academy of Theatre Arts and graduated with a Trinity National Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre, after having completed a foundation year at Evolution Foundation College.
Ellena’s professional credits include: Rapunzel (UK Tour), Fairy Fortywinks in Sleeping Beauty (Weymouth Pavillion) Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (UK tour), Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (The Shaw Theatre, London), Linda Manero in Saturday Night Fever (Avondale Theatre).
Ellena is a choreographer and Technique Class Tutor for the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company and has enjoyed working with them on Christmas Spectacular! 2021 & 2022, Cats and Oliver Jr. Ellena also teaches Commercial & Contemporary Dance for the Co-op Juniors Theatre Academy.
Harriet trained at Performers College and graduated with a Trinity National Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre.
Since graduating, Harriet’s professional credits include; Mother Gothel in Rapunzel (UK Tour), Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty (Weymouth Pavilion), The Wicked Witch of The West in The Wizard of Oz (UK Tour), The Wicked Witch of The West in The Wizard of Oz (The Shaw Theatre, London), Princess Jasmine in Aladdin (Dorking Halls, Surrey), Snow White in Snow White (Ipswich Regent Theatre), Jack and the Beanstalk (Truro, Hall for Cornwall), Sleeping Beauty (Truro, Hall for Cornwall), The X Factor (ITV), the FA Cup Final (ITV).
Harriet joined the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company for Barnum in 2018 playing the role of Charity and again in 2019 for Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure in the role of Mrs Darling. Harriet has worked with the company in a creative capacity for the Creative Warehouse Project, Christmas Spectacular! 2021 & 2022, Cats and Oliver! JR.
BA (Hons), MA, PGCE
Thomas completed his MA in Theatre Directing in 2006 and his professional teacher training in 2012. He has worked as an artistic director, actor and collaborator on many theatrical and screen projects. He lectures in Performing Arts and has been a member of the Creative Arts department at Colchester Institute for fourteen years. He also regularly leads drama workshops for local youth groups.
Thomas is proud to have been involved with the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company for many years, undertaking a variety of roles and responsibilities during that time.
BMus. (Hons), MA, PGCE
Jo trained at Goldsmiths College, London BMus. (Hons) and MA (Popular Music Research) and works as a freelance Musical Director, Arranger and Educational Consultant.
Joining the Co-op Juniors Creative Team in 2018 for Barnum, she also musically directed Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure for the Senior Company and has been Musical Director and Arranger/ Orchestrator for two Christmas Spectacular! productions.
As a Musical Director and Singing Tutor at Performers College and Masters Performing Arts, Jo works with undergraduate students to develop vocal technique and performance skills. In her academic work, she is a Dissertation Supervisor at Emil Dale Academy.
Jo is a Senior External Moderator for the University of the Arts London Awarding Body, working with Music and Performing Arts Colleges around the country to develop creative, industry focused education programmes.
Nigel Virley is a musical director, vocal coach, piano teacher and jazz musician, and has worked with the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company for 38 years. Nigel began musically directing the company’s Christmas productions at the Ipswich Regent in 1985. He also wrote the scripts for 15 years and contributed many original songs and musical numbers during that time.
Nigel worked on the company’s very first summer musical in 1995 – The Sound Of Music at the Ipswich Regent. Nigel continued to work on all Co-op Junior musicals over the next two decades, including The King & I (Ipswich Regent), Oliver! (New Wolsey Theatre) The Phantom of the Opera (New Wolsey Theatre), Les Misérables (Ipswich Regent), Billy Elliot (Seckford Theatre) and Starlight Express (The Hush House).
Nigel musically directed the first Christmas Spectacular! at Snape Maltings Concert Hall in 2005 and continued in that role until 2018. Nigel works with the Junior Cast on their summer musicals at Seckford Theatre which have included Honk JR, Madagascar, Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR and Oliver! JR.
PROGRESSION & CAREERS
The Co-op Juniors Theatre Company provides members with the skills and experience necessary to pursue further training in the arts, if they choose to. We offer careers guidance, advice and support to all company members.
Many Theatre company members go on to train at conservatories and universities to study for degrees, diplomas and profession qualifications in dance, drama and musical theatre.
PREVIOUS THEATRE COMPANY MEMBERS HAVE GONE ON TO:
Arts Education School
English National Ballet
Evolution Foundation College
Goldsmiths, University of London
Guildford School of Acting
Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts
Laine Theatre Arts
London College of Music
London Studio Centre
Mountview Academy Of Theatre Arts
Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance
The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts
The Northern School of Contemporary Dance
The Royal Academy of Dance
The Royal Ballet
The Royal Central School Of Speech & Drama
The Royal College of Music
The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama
The Urdang Academy