BIGLITTLE Faculty Members and Team
BIGLITTLE Theatre School is very proud of its teaching and creative staff. We are fortunate to have a team of committed, professional and talented regular teachers which is augmented by a number of guest directors, choreographers & professional performers, many of whom are “regulars” in their own right – and all of them delight in sharing their experience and talents with the students.
PRINCIPAL & HEAD OF DRAMA – Michelle Guy B.Ed ALAM
Michelle is the Principal of Big Little Theatre School which she founded with Colin Billing in 1996. She is also Head of Drama. Michelle graduated from Exeter University with a Bachelor of Education degree, majoring in Theatre Arts. By this time she was already an accomplished Latin American and ballroom dancer and had directed and performed in countless shows with her family’s national holiday company, Majestic Holidays. Later she spent a year in the USA performing and writing shows for SAK Theatre Company, based at Disney’s EPCOT Centre. After returning to the UK she resumed her position with Majestic, before formally starting her teaching career as head of drama at a local comprehensive school.. She then moved to St Thomas Garnet School, where she also founded Guys School of Performing Arts (later BLTS). Michelle has directed and choreographed numerous shows for local companies including Arena Theatre, Big Little Theatre Company, and BBLOC’s production of Mr Cinders which won the NODA South of England Award for Best Musical. She is no stranger to the Pavilion Theatre as here she has performed lead roles such as Anne Pornick (Half a Sixpence), Ado Annie (Oklahoma!), Gigi (Gigi), Nellie Forbush (South Pacific). However teaching, directing and writing are the areas where she is most fulfilled. During the past 15 years she has furthered her own training, mainly through her studies with Real Education (Australia) and LAMDA where she is now an associate member (ALAM). She is dedicated to the development of Big Little Theatre School.
HEAD OF MUSIC & VOCAL COACH – Colin Billing
Colin Billing co-founded Big Little Theatre School with Michelle Guy in 1996 and has been Music Supervisor ever since. Now London based, Colin combines his work for the school with his “day job” as well respected and always in demand freelance Musical Director, pianist, arranger & vocal coach.
In the theatre his Musical Director credits include Lend Me A Tenor – the musical (Gielgud Theatre, London & Theatre Royal, Plymouth), Chasing Fate (Birmingham Hippodrome), Godspell (UK Tour), Lift Off! (opening show at Leicester’s CURVE), Wizard Of Oz (Leicester Haymarket), Beauty & The Beast (Hexagon Theatre Reading), Three Men In A Boat (UK tour), The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (Leicester Haymarket), Brenda Bly – Teen Detective (Bridewell Theatre, London), Beyond Phantom (UK tour), R.S.V.P. A.S.A.P., No-One In The World & Is There Life After Highschool? (Cochrane Theatre, London), A Slice Of Saturday Night (UK tour), Kaye’s The Word (the Plush Room, San Francisco & UK tour), West Side Story (Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama), Into The Woods (Urdang Academy), the world premiere of Hope (Cochrane Theatre & Westminster Theatre, London), The Beggars Opera (Cochrane Theatre, London), You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow and Nearly All Sondheim Volume One (Greenwich Playhouse), Just So & Jane Eyre (Regent, Christchurch), Chess, Oklahoma!, The Sound Of Music (Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth), West End Gold (Winter Gardens, Bournemouth & tour). Colin is also musical supervisor for Imagine Theatre.
Colin has conducted & arranged music for countless recordings, concerts & events nationwide, including the “last night” concert at Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre, and the opening production at the new venue – CURVE. He was musical director for the Russian soprano Marina Laslo and her Russian Romances show at the Barbican. For the last five years Colin has been musical director and arranger for Christmas with the Salvation Army at the Royal Albert Hall.
Colin also works extensively developing new musicals and has worked as arranger/orchestrator and musical director on a number of projects including prolifically with British composer Charles Miller.
Recently Colin was producer and musical supervisor for Jon Lee’s debut solo album – Fallen Angel. He is musical supervisor for Arthur’s Quest (a new musical at this year’s Edinburgh Festival) and musical director and arranger for Sleeping Arrangements, a new musical by Chris Burgess at the Landor Theatre. Colin is musical director for Olivier award winning American song & dance man Tim Flavin.
Find out more at www.colinbilling.co.uk
SCHOOL MANAGER – Claudia Handscomb
Claudia joined BIGLITTLE in 2006 as the School Manager for Big Little Theatre school. She is part of the core team based at Garnet House and is involved in all areas of the school’s development, day-to-day running and financial management. In addition to her role she has taken on the additional responsibility of co-producing the school’s annual productions and events.
ADVERTISING & MARKETING – Nicky Buck
Nicky joined BIGLITTLE part-time in 2010 and then in 2011 became a full time member of the core team based at Garnet House. She is involved in the day-to-day running of the school along with promotion, advertising and marketing for the school and annual productions and events.
DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER – Sam Taylor-Martin
Sam is the Choreographer and Director of Starlight and Limelight Youth Theatre Companies. Sam also teaches Performance Dance classes.
Sam trained at The Italia Conti Academy. Her credits include: Dance Captain, The Thorn Birds (UK Tour); Grandma Tzeitel, Fiddler On The Roof (UK Tour); Anita/Dance Captain, West Side Story (Michael Bogdanov Aberystwyth Arts Centre); Mimi Fontaine, Contender (UK Tour); Columbia/Dance Captain, The Rocky Horror Show (European Tour/Victoria Palace Theatre); Closer Than Ever (AW Productions); Doctor Dolittle (UK Tour); Oliver (Aberystwyth); Tinkerbell, Peter Pan (Qdos Pantos); Fairy Cakes, Jack and the Beanstalk (One from the Heart Productions); Singer, Stadium Theatre Company (P&O Cruises); Resident Director/Assistant Choreographer, Swinging St. Pauli (European Tour); Bridget, A Slice of Saturday Night; Rona, Kennedys Children; Alter Ego, They’re Playing our Song.
FOOTLIGHT DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER – Kelly Knight
Kelly is a past student of Big Little and is a highly qualified and vibrant teacher. Kelly originally trained at Big Little Theatre School, and then continued her training at Doreen Bird’s and London Studio Centre. Aside from working in the industry she was also a teacher at the prestigious BRIT school (students included Leona Lewis, Adele and Jessie J.) Here, she predominantly taught Contemporary dance and Ballet, as well as Jazz and Musical Theatre and personally taught the novelty dance duo Twist and Pulse. She is also a guest lecturer for trainee dance teachers at Brighton University. We’re delighted to welcome Kelly back to Bournemouth to work with our students.
MUSICAL DIRECTOR & VOCAL COACH – Ian Carter
Ian is the Musical Director for the Footlight Youth Theatre Company and Theatre Machine classes. He is also a Vocal Coach for Big Little Theatre School. Ian is a well known personality on the local music scene, having been musical director for more than 40 shows including The Full Monty, La Cage aux Folles, Grease and Mack & Mabel, to name a few and accompanist for countless others. He teaches piano, singing, organ and theory, and has worked in many schools. Ian has been Director of Music at All Saints Church for more than 40 years and is also M.D. for Bournemouth School Parent/Teachers Choir.
Qualifications include being a Licentiate of the London College of Music. Ian also works as a pianist in hotels, either solo piano or as part of a jazz duo. As a performer, he has been seen in numerous pantomimes and shows, including the genie of the lamp in Aladdin and as ‘Oscar’ in 42nd Street.
MUSICAL DIRECTOR – Stuart Darling
Stuart Darling (BMusDipABRSM) has been working in the local music scene for many years. His first professional engagement was as Keyboardist with ‘The Bowiexperience’ for whom he has been performing since the age of 16. Since graduating from University in 2006, Stuart has worked as a Director, Musical Director, Script Writer and Orchestrator for various local amateur musical companies, as well as other charitable and faith-based organisations. In 2008 he was recommended for the position of Keyboardist and Orchestrator for ‘Anything For Love’ – a scripted theatre show featuring the music of Meatloaf. He spent the best part of 2008/9 touring national theatres with this show. Apart from gigs and shows, Stuart finds the time to indulge in his other love – classical music. Stuart has been involved with a production of ‘Seussical The Musical’ with BOS Musical Company as well as other productions in the area. He teaches piano and singing and a Musical Director for Theatre Machine classes.
DRAMA TEACHER – Ruth Butcher
Ruth joined BIGLITTLE to teach Speech and Drama as part of the Garnet Academy in 2013.
Ruth is a past student of Big Little and St Thomas Garnet’s School. She achieved LAMDA Grade 8 in Verse and Prose and Acting under the tuition of Michelle Guy. Ruth did a primary PGCE at Oxford Brookes and then went on to teach full time at primary schools for 6 years. During this time Ruth directed many school plays, ran drama clubs and taught the LAMDA syllabus privately. Ruth returned to Bournemouth in 2012 and is delighted to be teaching the speech and drama at St Thomas Garnets School.
RAD BALLET TEACHER – Jo-Anne Dilly RAD RTS
Jo started Ballet and Tap at the age of 3 at a dance school in Berkshire. She went on to successfully audition for Young London Ballet Company at the age of 10, performing at Sadlers Wells and The Royal Festival Hall alongside professional ballet stars of the day. She continued her ballet training at the Merle Park School of Ballet and went on to complete her vocational training at The Arts Educational, Chiswick where she graduated with a Diploma in Dance. As a professional dancer her credits include FEM Productions, Japan, National Japanese Tour, Choreographer/Translator for NHK Japanese TV Company and various Theatre productions. Jo returned to the UK in 2002 and qualified with the Royal Academy of Dance as an RAD Ballet Teacher. Teaching is now her passion and she joined BIGLITTLE in 2009.
GUEST CREATIVE & TEACHING STAFF
BIGLITTLE is fortunate to have very good links with the West End. Our Guest Creative and Teaching Staff work in the performing arts industry full time and kindly give their time to come and work with the students, passing on invaluable skills and information.
Sam Spencer Lane
BIGLITTLE Administrative and Support staff