Award-winning RGS actors shine on stage

TWO promising young Ripon Grammar School actors shone on stage at a major drama festival

Amber Stevenson-Mian and Isabella Withy won first place in an acted scene at the Harrogate Competitive Festival of music, speech and drama, securing a place at the championship’s finals together.

In addition, Isabella won first place in Shakespeare and second in solo acting and in entertainment acting in the 16-plus category – three very competitive categories. Her first place also took her to the championships, where she brought home the trophy for overall champion in speech and drama.

Isabella, 18, who has secured coveted degree course offers from the prestigious Guildford School of Acting and Chichester Conservatoire told how they were both thrilled to win together in their final year of the festival.

The teenager, from Burton Leonard, said: “We are both super excited!”

Her ambition is to perform on stage and TV: “Sarah Lancashire and Jodie Comer are shining examples of who I look up to be like in the future, especially Sarah Lancashire’s performance of the character Catherine in Happy Valley, and Jodie Comer’s performance in Prima Facie.”

She took up acting aged seven, when Upstage Academy school of performance ran an acting club at her primary school: “I went on to have lessons at the academy at nine years old and nine years on I am still training there.”

She takes four weekly classes in acting, singing, dance & musical theatre alongside assisting with junior classes.

Having achieved a coveted distinction in grade 8 gold medal London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) exams in solo acting and group, she says the highlight of her year is the annual summer showcase at Harrogate Theatre, where she has played Edna Turnblad in Hairspray and Jan in Grease.

“I am looking forward to being back at Harrogate theatre this year for the production Into the Woods.”

Amber, from Ripon, joined Upstage nine years ago, and completed her gold medal LAMDA exam last year in solo acting and group acting.

The 17-year-old, who plans to study English literature at university and hopes to become a journalist, said: “I have enjoyed being part of an amazing family at Upstage and having support from my peers and teachers. We both think Upstage Academy is a truly amazing place with brilliant teachers who invest so much time in all the students to ensure we do our best.

Isabella added: “We will never forget where we started from and all the help and guidance we have received from Upstage and working with such talented students and friends. Anyone who wants to start performance in any discipline, no matter what age, should do it, it’s the best decision you will ever make.”

Upstage principal Amelia Urukalo, said: “I think it’s wonderful Issy and Amber’s work is recognised and celebrated.”

She added: “We have watched Amber grow from just age 7 as one of our first acting students into a very promising actress. And Issy has worked incredibly hard lately, travelling back and forth across the country undertaking auditions for drama schools as well as assisting our junior categories.

“I am extremely proud of both of them and will be very sad to see them leave Upstage this year, but equally excited to see them progress in their futures. Having the opportunity to watch these girls grow into beautiful and wonderfully talented young women has been an absolute pleasure. They will both hold a very special place at Upstage.”