Gallery: Blue Peter star Zoe offers showbiz advice

FUTURE stars of the stage were given a showbiz masterclass in musical theatre by a team of able pros.

Tom Potter

FUTURE stars of the stage were given a showbiz masterclass in musical theatre by a team of able pros.

Ruthie Henshall, herself famous for treading the boards in the West End for the last 20 years, was joined by former Blue Peter presenter and Dancing on Ice star Zoe Salmon for the start of a two-week series of dance, drama and vocal workshops in Lawford, near Manningtree.

The pair were supported by a crew of professionals keen to impart their knowledge and experience of the entertainment industry onto a group of eager apprentices at Ogilvie Hall.

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The Millar Henshall Theatre Arts School began life as an off-the-cuff idea shared between Ruthie and Debbie Millar, who runs the local dance school attended by Ruthie's daughters.

Mrs Millar recalled how a casual discussion led to the formation of a group with ambitions to become a full time musical theatre school.

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“Ruthie left a message on my answerphone that evening to say what a wonderful idea she thought it was,” said Mrs Millar.

“We realised we had similar roots having both attended the Laine Theatre Arts School in Surrey and arranged a fortnight when we were both available to launch our dream.

Ruthie Henshall, who lives in Manningtree, invited her husband and fellow star of musical theatre, Tim Howar, to join the coaching team, which also included professional actors, directors and voice tutors.

“Debbie and I really hit it off and I couldn't believe it when she suggested setting up the school because it was something I had been thinking about doing,” she said.

“I don't really have the business head for it but she had been running the dance school and her husband Chris came onboard to take care of that side of things.

“The feedback has been wonderful and we would love to build this into a full time college.”

Zoe Salmon joined the team to offer the pupils advice on presenting and surviving in showbusiness. She said: “It's been great to hear what they all want to do and give help and advice for the future.

“I'm hoping I've been of some help to them and I'll be looking out for a few names in lights.

“Here they are learning skills for life and it's never too late for them to start.”

The summer school is set to culminate next Friday in a showcase performance of everything the pupils have learnt.

There are also plans for more workshops on Saturday afternoons during the autumn to run alongside the already well established local dance school.

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