Performing Arts Specialism
Director of Performing Arts: Miss S Blyth BMus (Hons), PGCE, SLE | Head of Acting: Mr S Eagles BA (Hons), PGCA, PGCE | Head of Dance: Ms L Monk BA (Hons), GTP (QTS)
Meet the Performing Arts team
Head of Dance
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Teacher of Acting
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As we are a specialist Performing Arts School, students have a wide range of opportunities to take part in the arts. We are the only school in South Warwickshire to offer discrete, timetabled Dance, Acting and Music classes with specialist industry-standard teachers at Key Stage 3, giving the best training for success at Key Stage 4.
Our talented students excel and many go onto professional careers in the arts. Students have access to our fully rigged technical suite, dance studio with sprung floor, drama studio, performance theatre, music studio with Apple Mac computers and outdoor ampitheatre. We also have strong links with local professional companies and theatres, including the RSC, MAC and Palace Theatre.
This year, students have performed in the Shakespeare Schools’ Festival at a professional theatre, were regional winners and national runners-up in the National Schools’ Dance Competition in Birmingham, and in the past few years they performed a variety of productions, including Oliver the Musical, Beauty and the Beast, The Crucible and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest; not to mention many, many more musical and dance showcases at school events!
What opportunities are there to perform and to practise?
There’s something for everyone! We have three dance companies (Inspire, Dynamic and Force) so whether you’re a complete beginner or you’ve been dancing professionally for years, there’s a company to suit you. We have visiting teachers available to teaching singing for pop, for musical theatre or classical styles; multiple instruments and just for fun clubs open to all like our popular Ukulele group and choirs. In Acting, there are multiple productions each year, including our annual musical production, the Shakespeare Schools’ Festival, Henley Arts Festival and more. There are also our popular Performing Arts showcases each term to get involved in. The full list of current opportunities can be found on the Extra-curricular page here: https://www.henleyschool.com/extra-curricular-clubs/
What qualifications do students study?
We offer graded examinations though the visiting teachers who run specialist music lessons. For Key Stage 4, our students pursue the industry-standard applied qualifications that focus on performance skills. In music, students study towards either the RSL Music Practitioner or GCSE in Music, in Acting students pursue the BTEC Level 2 Technical Award in Performing Arts: Acting and in Dance it’s the RSL Level 2 Cert in Creative and Performing Arts: Dance. At Henley, you have to option of studying all three Performing Arts subjects at Key Stage 4 should you wish to be that triple-threat, rather than being asked to choose between them.
What do our young people go on to do?
Whether it’s starring in films, West End and Broadway theatre, internationally successful television, touring the globe with their bands or dancing alongside the greats, our alumni are thriving in the arts. If you have a story to share, please let us know about all of your successes! You could be our next feature on this page. Click each name below to read more about our former students’ journeys.
Connor Ball - The Vamps
Bass guitarist and vocalist – ‘The Vamps’
Brit-Award winner Connor Ball, from Hatton, Warwickshire, began learning guitar when he was in Year 8 at Henley; he is pictured below playing at our school’s outdoor ampitheatre. Miss Blyth, his Music teacher, still remembers what a talented musician he was at school, and so she wasn’t a bit surprised by his international success. You can see Connor performing an early recording here at Henley! Imagine Mr Discenza’s surprise when Connor recently invited him to see him play live at the Genting Arena, Birmingham! Well done, Connor, on all your very well deserved success! We’re very proud of you. You can find out more about the band and their next arena tour by clicking here.
Alexander Morris - Professional Actor
Former student Alexander Morris was always an exceptional performer, playing many roles whilst at Henley, including the lead in our production of ‘The Wiz’. Already an Olivier Award Certificate holder by the age of 14, after Henley, he trained in Acting at The Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) and was awarded with a first class BA (Hons) in Acting.
Now a successful star of stage and screen, since graduating Alexander has appeared in a range of stage (Romeo and Juliet, Twelve Angry Men, Watership Down) and telvision roles (Poldark, Doctors, Citizen Khan, Holby City). Alex has a substantial role in feature-film The More You Ignore Me, based on the critically acclaimed novel by Jo Brand, co-starring alongside Sheridan Smith, Mark Addy, Sally Phillips and more.
Mr McCarthy is incredibly proud of Alexander’s achievements and is always pleasantly surprised when he pops up on screen in some of his television favourites! Alex’s IMDB profile.
You can see his online showreel here, with scences from Poldark, Holby City and Doctors.
Isabelle Brennan - Biomedical Science, Balliol College, Oxford
Recent Henley alumna Issy Brennan has just secured one of only 2-3 places available a year to study Biomedical Science at Oxford University’s Balliol College. She will be based at world-famous, presigious university, and we wish her every success in her pursuit of excellence at this globally respected academic institution – well done, Issy!
Click here to find out more about the course Issy is following.
George Fletcher - Professional Actor
Henley alumnus George Wilson, now known professionally as George Fletcher, is remembered fondly by Head of Performing Arts, Mr McCarthy. Now a star of stage and screen, George graduated drama school with his BA in Acting and was awarded the Lucian Veanna Prize for Voice Acting. He has worked with the RSC, BBC and many other professional companies in roles as diverse as Shakespeare’s MacDuff, Shelley’s Frankenstein’s Monster, and even playing a young doctor on the BBC’s Call the Midwife!
You can see his online showreel here, or take a look at his starring role in the trailer for the RSC’s production of Aphra Behn’s ‘The Rover’ below:
Truly Scrumptious Ford-Ghatauray - Professional Indie Singer
Past pupil Truly can currently be seen on ITV’s first season of the Voice. She ‘truly’ is the girl with the Truly Scrumptious voice, performing in the indie genre on the popular ITV talent show.
Truly feels now is her chance to make her mark on the music industry.
Layla Manoochehri - Singer/Songwriter, Actress, A&R Consultant
Former student Layla Manoocheehri is a professional singer, West End Performer and also works in A&R. She worked at Syco, a joint venture between Simon Cowell and Sony Music, which is responsible for producing some of the world’s most successful music, film and television. She now works with Open Mic UK. She was featured in both Pop Idol and, more recently, the X Factor, as well as having appeared on the West End stage. She also writes her own music, co-writing Lisa Stansfield’s Treat Me Like A Woman.
Layla was responsible for finding and developing new artists, writers and producers for Syco and has worked on successful shows such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent to name a few! See her top tips to getting into the industry below
Jerome Marcel - Professional model and actor
Alumnus Jerome Marcel, who was an incerdibly gifted GCSE Drama student, is now a talented model and actor who is currently enjoying success and features in campaigns for Adidas, Ellesse and JD Sports.
You can check him out in one of his recent TV campaigns below:
Stephen Whittaker - Professional Actor and Director
Alumnus Stephen Whittaker in his early acting career before going on to become one of Britain’s busiest and sought-ater film and television directors.
Henley alumnus Stephen Whittaker was a highly respected British actor and director and worked tirlelessly in the industry right up until his death in 2003 when writer Julian Fellowes spoke of him as, “the most exciting director in the industry.” He trained at London’s Corona Academy. He began his career as a teenager, first starring on screen as a “bad boy” in the film To Sir With Love (1966), and in the classic BBC Doctor Who adventure The Web of Fear, as a soldier battling Yeti in the London Underground.
In 2001 he filmed his final project The Rocket Post, a romantic drama set on a remote Scottish island. The film was released in 2006, three years after his death with the credits bearing a dedication to his memory. Stephen’s IMDB and Wikipedia pages demonstrate his impressive legacy of work in the arts. We are honoured to remember Stephen and his work; his touching obituary is available to read in the Guardian online here.
Some highlights of Stephen’s career as a Director and Actor: