Alice Penny - Sessional Leader - Infants Drama Group
Alice is a professionally trained Actress, training at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London. She has a host of experience of working creatively with children, both as a Performer & Storyteller, Drama teacher, Theatre Practitioner, and award winning entertainer ('Netmum's' favourite entertainer in the north west award). With a huge passion to inspire children's imaginations Alice started working with kids in 2007, & later went on to set up 'Mother hen' in 2011, a small & independent, award winning children's theatre company that aims to create wonderful, multi-sensory, interactive theatre experiences for children, that are accessible to all. Alice's work with Mother hen has been varied and diverse, delivering projects in schools & nurseries & children's centres right across the north-west, regularly working on the Royal exchange theatres family friendly events, for Manchester libraries, in hospitals, community centres, theatres & art galleries, gardens, festivals, at parties, or even in people's homes. Alice strives to offer the highest quality performing arts in a nurturing environment, and her holistic approach treats every child as an individual. Alice thinks that there are a million different ways to learn about the world and have fun, and whole-heartedly believes in the power of imagination, laughter and nonsense!
Debbie Olsen - Sessional Leader - Junior Drama Group
Debbie is the head of drama at St Patricks RC High School in Salford and has lived in Stretford for over 10 years. Debbie was raised in Blackpool where she studied dance and drama for many years, appearing in shows at the Winter Gardens, Opera House and Grand Theatre. After completing a BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts she moved to London and started working front of house and backstage at the Adelphi Theatre. Debbie then gained a place at Rose Bruford College and completed 2 years of a BA Hons degree in acting before leaving to bring up her son Lewis. She completed the degree at St Martins College in Lancaster and then deciding to go in a new direction and complete her teacher training. Debbie has since worked in secondary schools directing shows from 'Little Shop of Horrors' to 'the crucible' and working on projects such as 'Shakespeare for schools' and with organisations such as The People's Museum. She is really excited to be working with the Junior section as it is a challenge different to her day to day job.
Gemma Richmond - Sessional Leader - Senior Drama Group
Ella Fontaine - Sessional Leader for Youth Choir Group
Ella Fontaine is a singing teacher and choral conductor based in Stretford, teaching singing and piano privately, and in primary and secondary schools in Greater Manchester. Ella was born on the Isle of Man where she trained classically as a mezzo soprano taking part in her first opera aged 16. She trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and in the past has sung for local opera companies and in concerts and shows around the North West.
Ella has taught singing to students of all ages and abilities for over ten years and is passionate that everyone should be able to enjoy singing, whether it’s in the shower, in a choir or on a west end stage! As well as teaching, Ella loves both the challenges and rewards that come with conducting choirs, directing shows and group music making. She has conducted both adult and youth choirs, and previously sang in the Halle choir where she performed for the BBC proms at the Royal Albert Hall.
Ella recently studied voice and speech language therapy modules at the University of Manchester, as part of her ongoing training to be a singing rehabilitation coach, working with professional and amateur singers and actors with voice issues. She knows the voice inside and out and loves to help people improve their technique, sound, mood, wellbeing and mental health through music.
Although classically trained, Ella teaches and sings many styles of music and believes that quality tuition and singing needs to be increased in schools and become more accessible especially at the higher levels, where finances become a barrier. She hopes that Stretford Youth Choir will really blossom into a popular community activity where kids love to come and sing, begin to learn the foundations of music theory and develop a healthy singing technique and positive attitude towards all genres of music (not just pop!) maybe even inspiring some to study music and perform into adulthood.