MGA teaching team A to Z

Alex Risbridger

Dance tutor

Alex trained in all styles of dance from a young age at Julie-Sianne Theatre Arts and the RAD, before moving on to train professionally at Laine Theatre Arts, graduating with a national diploma in Dance (TRINITY, London).

Since graduating in 2010 Alex has danced all over the world and in theatres across the UK. Professional credits include: Dance captain, Musical Starnights (Best of Musicals, European Tour); Palladium Magic (London Palladium); Snow White (Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent); An Evening of Laughter with Ken Dodd and Friends (London Palladium); Dance captain on MV Ventura, Arcadia, Aurora and Oceana for Headliners Theatre Company, P&O Cruises; Variety Club Ball (Dorchester Hotel, London); Cinderella and Aladdin (New Victoria Theatre, Woking); Choreographer for Sleeping Beauty (Princess Theatre, Torquay); Various performances for Pineapple Dance Studios and New Generation Ballet Company, London.

After having worked professionally in the industry for the last seven years, Alex is very much looking forward to joining the team at The MGA Academy of Performing Arts.

All or Nothing

Aerial Training

All or Nothing are Scotland’s leading aerial dance company. Based in Edinburgh they have been blending breathtaking aerial acrobatics with dance, theatre and contemporary circus since 2006.

The company’s creative work has seen them take on everything from large-scale outdoor spectacle to small scale theatre. They have hung from boats, abseiled down buildings and flown through trees at the Enchanted Forest. In 2015 they will be touring their new work for theatre, Three’s A Crowd.

All or Nothing create greater opportunities to experience aerial dance and theatre, running classes, workshops and training programmes, spanning both the professional and community sectors across Scotland.
The training at MGA is delivered by an experienced team of aerialists and performers including Andrew Green, Jennifer Paterson, Sharisse Tindell and Marie Williamson.

Andrew Gowland

Postgraduate Course Coordinator & Resident Director

Andrew Gowland is a professional Actor, Musical Theatre Performer and
Director, having trained at The Royal Academy of Music, London, The Birmingham School of Acting and the College of Visual and Performing Arts in the USA. He has maintained a career in Performing Arts for over the last 14 years since graduating in 2003.

In 2005 he co-founded The MGA Academy of Performing Arts including MGA Management and MGA Casting with Murray Grant and remains MGA’s Managing Director.

As Managing Director and Producer for Beyond Broadway Productions Ltd, Andrew has, over the last 12 months, had the pleasure to work with Kerry Ellis, Adam Garcia, Christina Bianco, Ruthie Henshall, Natalie Weiss, Louise Dearman, Shoshana Bean, Scott Alan, Scott Morgan and Jonathan Reid Gealt and Jon Lee.

Finally, Drew is also a serving member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces as a fully-qualified Royal Air Force Regiment Gunner Reservist for 603 Squadron.

www.drewgowland.com / @drewgowland

Ashley Jack

Hip Hop tutor

Ashley Jack is an Edinburgh-based hip hop dancer and choreographer. Trained at Edinburgh’s Telford college, completing an HND in Professional Stage Dance, as well as by hip hop and house dance pioneers in New York, Paris and Holland, she has nearly a decade of experience in both performing and teaching.

Her performance credits include on-stage appearances with artists Kelly Rowland, David Guetta, U2 and many more, for companies including Strathmore Water, and at events such as the MOBO awards. She has danced in many hip hop theatre performances as part of her company Jackin’ the Box (founder and artistic director), including at Breakin’ Convention (Edinburgh, company, 2012; Inverness, solo, 2015), NordDance (Edinburgh, duet, 2015), Breakin’ Rules (Musselburgh, duet, 2017), and lots more including several pieces at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, as well as at a wide variety of club nights and events.

Ashley was the only female to be picked as one of five choreographers to take part in Breakin’ Convention’s inaugural ‘Back to the Lab’ project in 2012, travelling to London to be mentored by Jasmin Vardimon and Jonzi D to choreograph a piece that was shown at renowned venue Sadler’s Wells.

She founded and mentors two branches of youth company MiniJackers, who also frequently perform at a range of prominent events such as Breakin’ Convention (2017), Breakin’ Rules (2017, 2015), the Audacious Women Festival (2017), the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (2016), and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (2015).

Ashley regularly enters battles, as a solo competitor (eg House Dance Forever, Amsterdam, 2015-2017; Step Your Game Up, New York, 2010), as part of duos (eg Baltic Breaks and Waves, Glasgow, 2016, quarter-finalists popping 2v2; Shut It Down, Lochgelly, 2015, winners all styles 2v2), and in crews (eg Hip Hop International Scotland Dance Championships, Goblynz, winners Megacrew category, 2016; Set It Off, Jackin’ the Box, winners 2011). She has judged competitions such as Unity Street Dance Championships (Lochgelly, 2015).

Ashley has a passion for outreach and is very active in projects working with youth and community groups, recently including Great Feats, for young dancers who are not in education or employment, Beyond Gender, for young transgender people, and Pilton youth centre. She is very keen to engage and involve young people, for example running a fundraiser to enable youths to attend Breakin’ Convention, a major hip hop theatre event.

Ashley is a highly regarded and popular teacher in the community, teaching adults and children in studios, dance colleges and schools in and around Edinburgh, and has taught in numerous locations around the UK and further afield, such as at the National Arts Festival in South Africa. She has a love of hip hop culture, imparting its history and foundations to her students.

Bekki Black

Academic Coodinator and Dance Tutor

Bio coming soon

David Bailey

Alexander Technique

David began studying the Alexander Technique in 2002 while looking for a solution to a persistent repetitive strain injury.

Having recovered, he continued to study Alexander’s work and enrolled on the Interactive Teaching Method (ITM) Teacher Training Course in 2008, qualifying as a teacher of the ITM Alexander Technique in 2012.

He has taught the Alexander Technique across the UK, working primarily in Edinburgh with a wide range of students including actors, singers, martial artists, and other members of the general public.

In 2016 he qualified as an ITM Trainer and now works as a personal trainer to some of the trainees on the current ITM Teacher Training Course.

David Winter

Stage Combat tutor

Bio coming soon

Dean Pirrie

Dance tutor

Bio coming soon

Derek McGhie

Acting/Voice tutor

Derek gained his BA in Acting, with distinction, at Queen Margaret University, in Edinburgh and then his Masters in Musical Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow.
For the past 18 years Derek has worked as an actor in theatre, tv and radio. He has had a varied career with theatre roles ranging from Sick Boy in Trainspotting at York Theatre Royal; to The Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz at the Citizen’s theatre; to a summer season in Rep at Pitlochry Festival theatre.

Companies Derek has worked for include the Tron Theatre Company, the Citizen’s, Borderline, Magnetic North, Eden Court, Imagine, The Brunton Theatre, Scottish Opera For All, Qdos, the Byre Theatre, Perth Rep and York Theatre Royal.

Television credits include: Still Game, Velvet Soup and Being Victor.

As well as a performer, Derek is also a drama facilitator and tutor. He has taught across the spectrum from preschool children to adults in further education. He has worked in Further Education establishments and theatre schools throughout the country and is looking forward to bringing his knowledge and enthusiasm for theatre to the students at MGA.

Gerard Bentall

Head of Singing & Singing Tutor

Gerard taught at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and also worked as Vocal Consultant for Paul Spyker Management. Over the years he has employed his services as a Vocal Coach for several Leading West End Artists including, Kerry Ellis, Louise Dearman, Matthew Rawle, Rufus Hound, Samantha Bond and Dean Collinson.

He has effectively instructed and mentored through the rehabilitation of voice problems.

Gillian McLaren Scott

Master Teacher Estil Voice International, Singing Tutor

Gillian is a graduate of Glasgow University where she attained an MA with Honours in Music and Drama. She has taught extensively in the Further Education Sector and spent 21 years as Curriculum Leader for Performing Arts at NCL (formerly Motherwell College), which has the accolade of being the first European Educational Affiliate with Estill International. Gillian was responsible for the writing and development of two unique BA Honours Degrees in Musical Theatre and Acting in collaboration with Northumbria University, with graduates now working successfully on both a national and international level.

As a Certified Master Teacher and Scotland’s only Certified Course Instructor with Estill Voice International, Gillian set up her own company McLaren Scott Vocals in 2016. She is a successful private singing teacher, running regular courses and workshops and was a Vocal Coach on the Audition Tour for The Voice / Voice Kids 2017 with ITV.

Gillian is also an accomplished Theatre Director and Musical Director with credits including Company at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow; We Will Rock You at the Motherwell Concert Hall; and the Scottish Student premieres of Children of Eden, Rent, Bare, The Boys in the Photograph, Bonnie & Clyde and Soho Cinders.

Jill Rennie

Ballet tutor

Graduating from Bush Davies in 1987, Jill Rennie’s performing career spans over nearly two decades and has taken her all over the world.

Credits include: Carmen – Earls Court & Tokyo (IMG Productions), Grease – UK tour (PARKER Productions), DANIELLO PRODUCTIONS – Spain & Algarve Portugal, BELINDA KING PRESENTS – Portugal, GRAND THEATRE / Swansea – Goldilocks & the Three Bears, Babes in the Wood, Robinson Crusoe, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, Jack & the Beanstalk, Robin Hood – NICK THOMAS ENTERPRISES, OCEAN CRUISE LINES, CELEBRITY CRUISE LINES, ROYAL CARRIBEAN CRUISE LINES, SAGA CRUISE LINES, MAJESTIC CRUISE LINES, FRED OLSEN CRUISE LINES

TV Credits Include: BBC – The Darling Buds of May; STV – I Lovett, Hogmanay Show, Take the high road, Taggart; YTV – Mr Majeka; SYT TV – Carmen.

Choreography credits include: FRED OLSEN CRUISE LINES – (Blackwatch, Braemar, Black Prince), MAJESTIC CRUISE LINES – (Ocean Majesty), JAPAN CRUISE LINES – (Pacific Venus)
Before joining the MGA team, Jill lived in Norway teaching at a Music, Dance, Drama performing arts school for ten years.

John Burlington

Prevocational Coordinator, Dance tutor

John made his west end debut at the age of 7 playing the part of Nipper in Oliver! at the London Palladium. He then went on to train at The Dance school of Scotland and then at Bird College of Dance and Theatre Performance in London gaining his BA(Hons).

John has worked all over the world including UK, Europe, China and Los Angeles. He has also spent many years at sea working for Crystal Cruises, Belinda King, QDOS Entertainment and Cunard Line as a Company Manager and Dance Captain. Most recently John has been working as assistant to choreographer Alan Harding for QDOS Entertainment.

John is very excited to start a new chapter of his career at The MGA Academy of Performing Arts and hopes to help mould the future of our students.

John P. Arnold

Acting Tutor

John P. Arnold is a professional actor, singer and voiceover artist who hails from the United States of America.

Since graduating from the University of Georgia with a Bachelors of Arts, he has continued his professional training at The Royal National Theatre, London; Advanced Scene Study – Peter Kelly Studios, Boston; Acting and Stage Combat – Cultural Arts Studio, City Lights Theatre Company, Savannah, GA; Advanced on Camera Acting – Tighe Doyle Casting Agency, Boston; Voice Training – Paul Fisher Studios & Jeannie Deva Studios; Audition and Monologue Skills, Michael Shurtleff Technique – Speakeasy Stage Company, Boston.

John has extensive theatre, film, television, commercial and voiceover credits in both the US and UK. Some of his UK credits include: The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow; The Traverse Theatre Company, Edinburgh; Bard in the Botanics, Glasgow; Taggart; River City; The Angel’s Share; CBBC’s Dani’s House and A Long, Long Crime Ago; BBC Four Radio Dramas, London and Scotland; and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

He also has performed and written for ACTING UP of Edinburgh, which brings theatrical arts to the corporate world. John presently serves as guest artistic director for Indelible Arts and The Drama Mill theatre companies, where he writes, teaches, and directs. He is a recurring tutor at Screen Academy Scotland, Napier University and also teaches private students at Prora Studios in East Lothian.

Kate McWilliam

Gymnatics coach

Bio coming soon

Kristofer Harding

Student Welfare Coordinator & Musical Theatre Tutor

Kristofer graduated from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts with a first-class honours degree in Musical Theatre.

Performance credits include: cover Jamie in The Last Five Years at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory; Rusty in Starlight Express in two UK Tours and sections in Hong Kong and Singapore; Roger in Grease at Piccadilly Theatre, London; Magaldi in Evita at Ljubljana Festival, Slovenia; Woof in Hair! German Tour; Simon and Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar UK Tour; and Narrator in Blood Brothers UK Tour.

Kristofer was also Featured Vocalist on 
Josh Groban’s UK Arena Tour, and Vocal Captain and Vocalist on Cunard’s Queen Mary II and Queen Elizabeth.

Lainie Baird

Dance tutor

Bio coming soon

Lesley Wood

Dance Tutor

Lesley is a Fellow and Examiner of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) and as such she is one of the most experienced and respected teachers in the country. She is also an External Verifier with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and was for ten years a faculty member of the Performing Arts Department at Motherwell College. She is Principal of the Dance Factory in Glasgow and is a renowned choreographer, working with the BBC, Scottish Television and Scottish Opera.

Her skills also include an ability to work with musical theatre students with little experience up to ISTD Advanced 2 and professional dancers in modern and tap well as construct routines for student audition pieces and choreograph student showcases.

She has worked with both acting, musical theatre and dance students up to degree level, many of whom are now professionally employed. She also teaches ISTD Diploma in Dance Instruction and Diploma in Dance Education.

Lisa Nicoll

Acting/Voice tutor

Producer and Playwright Lisa Nicoll trained at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and has most recently worked at The Tron Theatre, Glasgow where she set up and ran The Tron 100 Club, The Tron 100 Festival and The Progressive Playwright, developing and nurturing creatives and developing and producing work.

Lisa is one third of the Creative Artistic Team of new writing theatre company In Motion Theatre along with Daniel Cameron and Jordan Blackwood, where their focus is on developing new writing and talent and touring both their own work and the work of others – last year touring with Lisa’s play Where the Crow Flies which was part of The Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. The most recent film Lisa produced, Natalie, has just been screened as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2017. Lisa has also produced and toured Scotland with her self-penned one-woman plays Acceptance, Touched and Home Run. She also works as an actress and has toured with a variety of productions including UK tours of Trainspotting and Balamory.

Louise Ferrier

Junior School Creative Director & Dance tutor

Louise Ferrier has a Diploma in Professional Stage Dance and the ISTD Diploma in Dance Education.

Studying in Edinburgh and furthering her training in London she was fortunate enough to gain a vast amount of teaching and performing before joining Costa Cruise Lines. Here Louise travelled the globe dancing in a number of Musical Theatre shows in the position of Production Manager and Dance Captain.

Other credits include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (American Ballet Company), Nutcracker (Ballet West), UK tour with Bags Of Rock, UK tour Smirnoff Vodka Promotion, Model/Dancer Hatwalk. Louise was recently invited to dance at Stirling’s Fashion Designer of the Year and has performed in an immense amount of cabaret shows, events and flashmobs throughout the UK.

As well as performing Louise has managed to secure a wide range of teaching experience with all ages, abilities and styles.

Lynn Bains

Accents Coach & Guest Director

Lynn has worked as an actor and acting teacher, writer and director, since she moved to Scotland from the USA over forty years ago. And as Scotland’s foremost American accent coach she has worked regularly at Piltochry Festival Theatre, The Royal Lyceum Edinburgh, Dundee Rep Theatre and Perth Theatre, and other companies around Scotland.

She was a founder of Stellar Quines Theatre Company and directed its first production, Night Sky. For many years, Lynn was an assessor for the National Council for Drama Training and has been an adjudicator for the Scottish Community Drama Association.

Lynn has taught acting to the likes of Ewan McGregor, Shirley Henderson, Dougray Scott, Kevin McKidd and Sharon Small and many others.

After ten years as Head of Acting at Kirkcaldy College (now Fife College) and 15 years as Head of Acting at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, Lynn retired from full-time teaching to pursue her freelance career. Since then, she has directed and taught acting at Ohio Northern University and has been much in demand for acting and American accent workshops in Scotland, England and Wales with community and amateur companies, youth theatres, schools and professional theatres including The Citizens Theatre, The Royal Lyceum and PFT.

Lynn has been accent coach for every American play at Pitlochry Festival Theatre since 1989, most recently Carousel in 2016 and High Society in 2017. In addition, she has worked regularly at The Royal Lyceum, most recently The Crucible and the series of Arthur Miller productions; Dundee Rep, Steel Magnolias; and Perth Theatre, most recently Death of a Salesman, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, Moonlight and Magnolias and The Female Version of The Odd Couple.

Marcella Macdonald

PRINCIPAL & MUSICAL THEATRE COURSE COORDINATOR

Marcella trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama on the BA Music course and at the Royal Academy of Music, London on the post-graduate musical theatre course where she received the Ian Fleming Musical Theatre Award and the Musicians Benevolent Fund Award.

Theatre Works: A Little Night Music (Jack Lyons Theatre), Evita (Zouk Amphitheatre, Beirut), Richard Rogers Centenary Celebrations (with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall), Les Dialogues Des Carmelites (Edinburgh Festival Theatre), Manon (New Athenaeum). Marcella has also worked as a backing singer for Elton John, performing at Birmingham NEC, The Royal Albert Hall, The Royal Opera House and Wembley, and appearing on BBC 1. Other works include session singing and New Music Theatre Writers workshop.

As a musical director, Marcella’s professional credits include Ragtime (Edinburgh Fringe 2009) and Musical Starlights (World Wide Events). Marcella has been musical supervisor for Montage Theatre Arts, London, vocal coach for Forth Children’s Theatre and musical director for Edinburgh Council’s Musical Theatre Summer School.

Martyn Dempsey

Acting Coordinator

Martyn Dempsey is an Actor, Writer and Theatre Maker based in Glasgow. Training: East 15 Acting School BA Acting (2006), National Youth Theatre, Scottish Youth Theatre.

For over a decade Martyn has worked as an actor and performer working for companies across the UK, specialising in new writing, comedy, devised performance, children’s theatre and pantomime. As a performer companies Martyn has worked for over the years have included Les Enfants Terribles, Hull Truck, Derby Theatre, Gala Theatre Durham, Chipping Norton Theatre, Greyscale, Gameshow, Supporting Wall, SCAMP Theatre, Mischief La Bas, Hopscotch Theatre, Tall Stories, nabokov, Mansfield Palace Theatre, Magpie Puppet Company, Infinite Jest, Old Saw, Finborough Theatre, Scottish Opera, Young Vic and many more. In this time Martyn has been involved in devising a range of productions which have toured both nationally and internationally to critical acclaim.

As a lecturer, outreach practitioner, and facilitator Martyn has also worked delivering workshops and specialist courses for a wide range of organisations including Royal Conservatoire Scotland, Old Vic New Voices, Almeida Theatre, Impact Arts, National Youth Theatre, Shakespeare Schools Festival, Scottish Youth Theatre, and East 15 Acting School.

As a writer Martyn’s work has been performed at venues including Theatre 503, Greenwich Theatre, Cambridge Junction, and his play The Girl with the Imagination was shortlisted for the Verity Bargate Award. His first full-length play InElsWhEre was commissioned as part of Tamfest and debuted at The Gaiety Theatre in October 2016 with support from Toonspeak, The Tom McGrath Trust and The Gaiety Theatre.

Molly Innes

Acting tutor

Molly trained at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD) and has been an actor for over twenty years. During this time she has received a commendation at the Ian Charleson/National Theatre Awards (for Electra), was nominated for a Stage Award for Acting Excellence (for her role in Moving Objects) and was nominated for a Best Actress CATS award (One day all this will come to nothing). Her theatre work includes stints at The National Theatre of Scotland, The Traverse, The Royal Lyceum, Dundee Rep, Perth Rep, The Citizen’s and the Royal Court as well as many touring companies.

Film and television credits include: Rebus, Taggart, Holby City, A Mug’s Game, Psychos, Takin’ over the Asylum, Rab C. Nesbitt, Lovesick, River City, The Bill, Ratcatcher, Strathblair, The Ferguson Theory, Stella Does Tricks, Afterlife and Karmic Mothers. She has also performed in numerous radio plays for BBC Radio 4.

Molly was one of the Traverse Fifty writers. She received a New Playwright award from The Playwright’s Studio, Scotland in 2014. She has had rehearsed readings of her short plays Legacy and Roads of Grace. Her translation into Scots of Michel Tremblay’s Thérèse and Pierrette and the Wee Hanging Angel was presented by Stellar Quines as part of their Rehearsal Room. Her play Mother Ease was performed at the Traverse during the Edinburgh Festival.

Molly was Associate Director on 13 Sunken Years, a co-production between Stellar Quines and Lung Ha Theatre Companies. She directed the first rehearsed reading of her translation of Thérèse and Pierrette and the Wee Hanging Angel at the Traverse and has directed Five Kinds of Silence for Beyond Broadway Productions.

Molly is also a fully qualified secondary school teacher.

Murray Grant

Resident Choreographer

Graduating in 2001 from Bird College, Murray Grant immediately won a contract to tour the USA with Columbia Artist Management Inc. and enjoyed several years dancing around the globe before undertaking contracts as a choreographer.

Murray has performed as a dancer all over the world and most notably Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Sydney and Vienna in musical theatre, opera & cabaret productions.

In addition to a lengthy performance career, Murray’s directorial and choreographic credits include: touring China and Europe with Musical Starlights, European tour of Best of Musicals, Twelve International Tenors tours of Europe and China, Moulin Rouge (German TV Production), The Phantom of the Opera and Carnaby Street Capers for P&O World Cruises, Macphersons Rant (World Premiere, Scotland), Union Square Opening Ceremony (Scotland), Bat Boy, The Producers, Flashdance and The Addams Family for MGA Productions.

Numerous choreography contracts and World Premiers followed prior to teaching contracts as well as producing credits for his own company MGA Productions based in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Murray is also Guest Tutor for the Institute of the Arts, Barcelona and Creative Director and Founder of Beyond Broadway Productions.

Neil Metcalfe

Head of Music & Singing Tutor

Neil Metcalfe read music at Edinburgh University, before training as a Répétiteur, Vocal Coach and Conductor in the Opera School of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Subsequently, after some time as Répétiteur/Music Staff at Scottish Opera, he pursued a freelance career in Australia, Germany, the United States and Northern Ireland.

Neil currently works across a wide number of genres as a vocal coach, solo pianist, accompanist, continuo player and conductor, and is equally happy in Musical Theatre, Opera, Baroque music and as a solo/chamber and session musician. He has recorded for the BBC and on the Linn Records label (with Dunedin Consort – Scotland’s international award-winning Baroque ensemble with whom he was Concerts Director), has appeared as a Guest Artist on the Fred Olsen cruise line, and has performed with many diverse groups across a number of genres, including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus, Ludus Baroque, Consort of Voices, and the National Youth Choirs of Scotland. He regularly appears as an accompanist at Masterclasses and in cabaret, and as a Choral Animateur at Come & Sing events across the country. He has also appeared at both the Edinburgh International Festival and at the Edinburgh Fringe (in over 200 performances).

As a conductor, recent engagements have included Verdi’s Macbeth and Bizet’s Carmen (Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh), and the British premiere of Ricci’s La Prigione di Edimburgo (Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh). As a pianist/Musical Director, recent engagements include the Scottish premiere of Adam Gwon’s Ordinary Days, Scottish tours of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years and Songs For A New World, and as MD/co-arranger of the world premiere of Steve Potters’ Farewell My Son. Neil also has a keen interest in music education, and as such has held posts as Director of Music in a number of independent schools (latterly at Strathallan School), in the FE sector (as Lecturer in Performance at Edinburgh College), is Chairman of the Scottish Schools Orchestra, and works as an examiner and adjudicator.

He currently holds the post of Faculty Leader (Music) at The MGA Academy of Performing Arts, and is Musical Director of The Maltings Theatre (Berwick-upon-Tweed), Greenroom Musical Theatre, Edinburgh Music Theatre Company and Edinburgh University Chorus.

Nicola Dobiecka

Alexander Technique

Nicola trained in the Interactive Teaching Method approach to teaching the Alexander Technique, after studying the technique for a year to help recovery from a back injury.

After qualifying as a teacher in 2012 she has run www.reasontochange.co.uk and has taught private classes and workshops in Edinburgh and across the UK.

She regularly teaches at the Interactive Teaching Method Summer workshops which are attended by students from across the world, many of whom are professionals in the performing arts.

She also continues to work in the field of digital design, working with both large organisations and small independently owned businesses at www.nicoladobiecka.com.

Paul Distefano

Dance Tutor

Paul Distefano is an american trained contemporary/modern dancer.

He was originally a student of ballet under Valerie Madonia. Valerie is now the director of the Colorado Ballet school, after a prolific career with ABT, the Joffrey Ballet and Lines Ballet to name a few. After his foundational training he was accepted on scholarship to The Joffrey Ballet School Of New York, where he continued his training under director Davis Robertson. From the Joffrey he was able to dance and train under such notable people as Gelsey Kirkland, Alexandre Proia and Max Stone. After his studies were completed at The Joffrey he quickly started dancing for various companies around New York. He would soon audition for Pilobolus Dance Theater, and begin his work with them. This would last for the next five seasons. With Pilobolus Paul toured across Europe, performing their show ShadowLand. During that time he also taught movement for Pilobolus at Southern Connecticut University, and various magnet art schools. When he wasn’t working for Pilobolus he ventured into short term dance projects and film, as well as teaching in Copenhagen, Switzerland, and Colorado. After leaving Pilobolus, Paul moved to Los Angeles, where he started focusing on the commercial side of the industry. During that time he also met his now wife, and professional dancer Pamela Smith Distefano. Paul now resides in Glasgow Scotland.

Rachel Barlow

Anatomy tutor

Rachel has a Bachelor’s Honours degree in Dance, and a Masters degree in Dance Science and Education, graduating both with Distinction. She is currently a dance teacher and researcher, specialising in dance science, safe dance practice and the healthy dancer. Rachel teaches many dance genres, both practical and theory, to a wide variety of ages and levels.

Rachel has presented research at the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS) annual conference in Hong Kong. She also currently represents Scotland for One Dance UK, travelling nationally as a representative for dance training in Scotland and advocating for healthy dancer programmes.

Sarah Pirrie

Dance tutor

Bio coming soon

Sebastian Harcombe

Head of Acting

Seb was born in Germany but raised in South Wales. After reading music at London university he changed direction to study at RADA, winning the Robert Donat prize for classical acting on graduation. After 15 year of performing with major UK companies (including RSC and National Theatre), he became a director and teacher.

Seb has been Head of Acting at RADA and Drama Centre London. Recent UK productions as director include The Illusion (CONEILLE /KUSHNER), A Bright Room Called Day (Kushner), La Dispute, (Marivaux), Electra (Sophocles/Payne) , Bloody Poetry (Brenton), Billy Budd (Melville), Therese Raquin (Zola), and the operas La Voix Humane, Eugene Onegin and Idomeneo. Seb was made a UNESCO theatre ambassador in 2013, directing an all-male version of Richard the Third in Beijing (in Cantonese). He is also Artistic Director of Secret / Heart Ensemble www.secretheart.org

BA (Hons) in Drama and Theatre Studies (class 2a) – London University (Royal Holloway
College)
3-Year Vocational Acting Diploma – RADA
L.T.C.L – Trinity College London
PG cert dip – University of the Arts, London

Simon Hanson

Music tutor

Simon obtained a degree in music from the University of London where he specialised in orchestration and technical composition.

He has composed and arranged music for a wide variety of productions which have toured the UK and worked as Musical Director with a number of companies throughout the country. As Head Of Music with MGA, he is involved with the teaching of Ensemble Singing, Integration (Acting Through Song) and performance project work. He has also worked extensively with large Youth Theatre groups in Scotland and England, including Live Nation and Scottish Youth Theatre.

As half of the partnership JS Music Solutions, he also provides backing tracks and arrangements to MGA for use in their productions.

Sup Dhanasunthorn

Dance Coordinator

Sup Dhanasunthorn is from San Francisco and trained at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. He moved to London after appearing in Miss Saigon, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Saturday Night Live. After touring Canada, the US and China with The Spirit of Christmas, Sup returned to London to launch his contemporary dance company, Embody.

Other credits include Universal’s 47 Ronin, Olly Murs, Aida at the Royal Albert Hall, Strictly Come Dancing and the UK and European tour of Disney’s The Lion King.

Choreography credits include: the opening of the Aquatics Centre for the 2012 London Olympics, Trophy Wife, Oxford College Ball, Phish Leong, and the UK and European tour of The Lion King.

Sup is the founder of the Hustle, the largest community of performing artists and creators in the UK. Currently a member of the new Equity Dance Committee, and a recent recipient of the Dance London’s Change Maker Award, Sup is privileged to join the dance faculty at The MGA Academy of Performing Arts, fulfilling his dream to enrich the future talents of dance.

Terry Ram

Guest Director

Terry has a long background in community and educational theatre. She trained at the Workshop Theatre, University of Leeds under Professor Martin Banham and returned there for her M.A. in Theatre Arts.

She has worked as actor and stage manager for many projects and her particular love of the out doors and Shakespeare led to a lengthy relationship with Abbey Shakespeare Players in West Wales. Among other roles she played Lady Macbeth, Katerina in Taming of the Shrew and Ariel in The Tempest.

Alongside her acting and directing Terry was Head of Peforming Arts at a large comprehensive school in Leeds where she was fortunate in being able to work alongside many young people who developed a love and appreciation of theatre and who are going on to make a substantial mark in the profession.

She has directed regularly with Musical Theatre and Acting students at MGA on stand-alone acting projects at the Church Hill, Pleasance and Roxy Theatres.

Tom Duncan

tom duncan edinburgh

Acting Tutor

Tom is the owner of photography and video production company Twin City Pictures, working as a director and cinematographer across Scotland producing media for theatre shows and marketing. Twin City Pictures is also one of the leading providers of actor services: headshots, showreels, selftapes and private coaching.

Tom trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Acting. Since graduating he has worked consistently for over a decade in theatre, film, television and commercials.

Theatre credits include: Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Macbeth, Hamlet, Much Ado about Nothing, Comedy of Errors, Winter’s Tale, Mid Summer Night’s Dream, Henry IV, The Tempest, Merchant of Venice, Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, This Fearful Country, Queen Margaret (for Bard in the Botanics); Coma (Arches); Romeo and Juliet (Erasmus Theatre Company); Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White, Cinderella (The Byre Theatre); Jack and the Beanstalk, Beauty and the Beast (MA Productions); Aladdin (PACE); Mother Goose (MacRobert); Last of the Dragons (Manhattan Children’s Theatre).

Film and Television credits include: Sunset Song (Terence Davies); Scrotal Recall (Elliot Hegarty); Meet Me on the Southbank (Adam Rolston); Joyeux Noel (Christian Carion); The Celebrity (Simon Whyte). Commercial work for Sony, Real Radio and Channel 4.

Summer School 2018 for 7-15s

Coming Summer 2018!

Published 3/11/17   3:03PM

Lighting up the winter evenings!

MGA students have had a fabulous start to the new year here at MGA, and it only gets better as next week our students take to the stage to begin MGA’s Winter Season of productions. Full details of each show in production can be found on the Production pages. MGA’s… » Read more

Published 16/8/17   11:36AM

It's MGA's Edinburgh this summer…

The MGA Academy of Performing Arts are taking the streets of Edinburgh by storm this month after a fabulous end to the year and a busy July. We had an amazing two weeks with our ‘Stage to Screen’ Summer School, welcoming lots of talented young people to MGA to work… » Read more

Published 4/7/17   7:40PM

Congratulations, Class of 2017!

Last month we were thrilled to send out another generation of fabulous students into the professional world of Performing Arts – particularly because 2017 marks the first year of MGA graduates from all three course streams. So huge congratulations to all our students: graduating in Musical Theatre, in Dance, and,… » Read more

Published 8/6/17   6:55PM

Make a change - take the next step

Take control of your future with The MGA Academy of Performing Arts! Our final set of ‪auditions‬ for entry in 2017 are coming up in August. As summer gets under way it’s definitely time to think about what you next step is to achieve the career of your dreams! With… » Read more

Published 15/5/17   3:44PM

Spring Season of shows open tonight!

The Spring season of performances by Acting, Dance and Musical Theatre students opens tonight and we couldn’t be more excited! Join us for three very special shows starting tonight, May 15th, and running through until Saturday 20th May, at the Church Hill Theatre in Morningside, Edinburgh. The third-year Acting students have… » Read more

Coming soon

A Christmas Wish 2017

18th December, Usher Hall

New York Trip 2018

January 2018 *FULLY BOOKED*