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Act One Stage School re-opens its curtains on Saturday 9th September 2017 at 10am.

Newcomers welcome for a free trial week.

Act One in the Press

Stage school success for students looking to move into spotlight

18th August 2013

Act One Stage School was founded by ex-Eastenders actress Carly Hillman in September 2010. She says in three years it has grown to be a huge success. It is based at Marshalls Park School in Pettits Lane, Romford in the brand new dance studio, and is open every Saturday during term time.

A typical day starts with a 30 minute warm-up followed by an hour each of drama, singing and dance – with half an hour for lunch. Students are split into three age groups and rotate around lessons. The teachers are all qualified professionals who have been involved in the industry for many years and have valid CRB checks.

The school has performed a number of shows across the area, and next year’s performance will be Hairspray "We try to rotate the shows every year between variety and musical styles, that way the students get to experience everything, most importantly performing in front of live audiences in some wonderful theatres," said Ms Hillman.

The school also invites current stars to join them, providing students with help and advice from within the industry. Guests so far have included performers from Wicked, Mamma Mia, We Will Rock You and actor Russell Tovey from Gavin and Stacey.

This academic year students will get the chance to complete the recognised LAMDA examinations. Act One is hoping to tie up an agency deal which could offer students the chance to audition for professional TV and theatre roles. Ms Hillman said "We have been delighted with the progress of Act One since we opened, so much so we are considering opening one or two more schools within Essex during the next year. We have some very talented students and have subsequently performed some fantastic shows. We want everyone to enjoy themselves, grow in confidence and learn the skills without pressure."

Women in Business

1st October 2010

Act One Stage School was formed in the summer of 2010 by Carly Hillman, a professional actress from Hornchurch. Having worked in the industry since 1997, most famously playing the role of Nicky Di Marco in Eastenders, Carly also teaches Drama in Stage Schools around Essex. In early 2010 Carly decided to pass on all of her experience and expertise to local children and open her own Stage School - Act One.

The school, based at Marshalls Park School, Pettits Lane, Romford, is current ly open Saturdays 10am-2pm and consists of three main areas; singing, drama and dance. Students have the opportunity to take part in all three classes each week in order to gain knowledge and education in all areas. The teachers at Act One are all qualified professionals - many of them having worked very recently on TV, Stage and Screen.

The school will be arranging for current TV and theatre stars to make guest appearances at the school, to share their experiences with the students and work on techniques to help them in the future. Whether they're actors, presenters, singers or dancers these professional, current day stars will be there to lend a helping hand and guide students to ultimate success.

Carly said "We will also be trying to arrange one or two field trips per year to West End shows, creative theatre workshops and television studios, so that the students can gain experience of backstage co-ordination, camera techniques and the realism of full professional productions".

East-Ender is aiming to help stars of the future

22nd July 2010

THE THRILL of performing on stage is something experienced by a relative minority, but it is so compelling there is nothing else quite like it. Name in lights, public accolades, life in the fast lane, wealth! Well perhaps not wealth, but it is something that gets the pulse racing and the butterflies tingling.

Most professional actors and actresses accept the strange ways of their profession. When work is available, the champagne flows, the rest of the time it can be as mundane as shelf stacking at the local supermarket. An actress who has seen both sides is "EastEnder" Carly Hillman.

Having experienced the highs of the other side of the stage door and loved every minute, the successful actress is now turning her attention to bringing her passion for theatre to a younger audience. Carly is best known as the teenager who set the screens alight in EastEnders playing Nikki Di Marco and bubbled high in the fanzine list for the three years she was in the BBC series.

Having tasted the high life and spent some years touring, Hornchurch-based Carly is embarking on a new course and combining her love of acting with the thrill of bringing the joys of her profession to young minds. "I am starting a Stage School," she said. "I have been thinking about it for some time. I have had a wonderful time in this profession and it's a way of giving something back."

Carly plans to launch her Act One Stage School in September taking youngsters from five to 16 for the three disciplines of Acting, Singing and Dancing. "I got so much from stage schools when I was younger," she said. "They gave me everything - confidence, a sense of achievement - but more importantly, it was so much fun and I still have so many happy memories." She says if her school has a motto then this will be blazoned on the front door. "It's going to be fun".

"The one thing there is no doubt about, is it is a hard career," said Carly. "But travelling on that road is brilliant. "I enjoy watching young talent blossoming and get a real buzz when the youngsters realise just what that are achieving. "It's all about confidence and encouragement and that is so important when you are maturing."

Carly was thrust into the limelight at 14 in EastEnders, and admits that looking back, she did not realise what was happening. "I was a teenager having bags of fun," she said. "It was one big holiday. Not work, just fun. "What I did not realise was just how much, and when the family were written out of the series I was left with a bit of a void. "Some of the others were contacting their agents and going for auditions, and it took my mum to suggest I did the same."

The learning curve of losing the limelight and trying to get back in was difficult and has served to set Carly's mind precisely on how she is going to approach her venture. "The ages of my students will be the most difficult as they mature and begin to appreciate who and what they are," she said. "I found the change a bit difficult so, apart from teaching the highs, I will be rounding off the whole experience as it can be quite daunting if you are not ready."

Carly will be teaching acting and she is bringing in two other well-known names to teach other disciplines. Queen's Theatre actress Gemma Salter is bringing her singing talents to school along with Evie Downer, who spent time with the exciting winners of 'Britain's Got Talent,' competition, dance act Diversity. Gemma received rave reviews for her lead role in the Ray Davies musical at the Theatre Royal, Stratford called "Come Dancing" based on the famous Ilford Palais.

Planning for the opening, Carly has devoted most of her time to setting up her dream. "Acting is a passion and I just want to share the fun I have had," she said.

Act One Stage School will be opening at Marshalls Park School, Pettits Lane, Romford, on Saturday mornings.

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