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Feelgood Academy - Stratford Circus

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

NEW musical Feelgood Academy, with words and music by Penny Lane and Glenn Keiles and book by Steve Jones, receives its world premiere at Stratford Circus, where it plays just three performances – on Friday, September 12 (2.30pm and 7.30pm) and Saturday, September 13, 2014 (6pm).

At the Feelgood Academy of Performing Arts – a demanding drama school where the students are grafters…but also a tad naive (they think Gene Kelly is a woman) – two ambitious students put their friendship on the line in pursuit of a coveted role.

Lucy is a self-assured singer and dancer who fancies herself a trouper (she’s been in one West End show) and arrogantly considers herself a cut above her fellow wannabe hoofers. On the other hand, Amanda is a good-hearted, sweet-natured girl…but riddled with self-doubt and plagued by dark voices who have taken root in her fevered mind. She’s also cowed by her overbearing mother…who just happens to run the theatre school.

Felicity Feelgood is a bullish martinet whose authority is often undermined by her weakness for malapropisms, yet still oversees her pupils – and particularly daughter Amanda – with an acid tongue whetted on a rod of iron. As the final terms starts, Lucy, Amanda and their fellow aspiring students are about to enter a competition for a place in a popular reality TV show, the prize being the starring role in the huge Gothic West End musical Motharotti.

Unfortunately, the final decision is being made by the famously supercilious West End producer Bella Derrydown-Webb, a legendary theatrical impresario who has history with Felicity…plus a good memory. Just to crank up the tension, it’s revealed that the Academy is in dire financial straits…and the highly-desired part in Motharotti could raise its profile…and save it from bankruptcy.

Everything is riding on the two star pupils. Will Lucy’s cavalier attitude to her craft cost her a chance of stardom? Can Amanda overcome her crippling lack of confidence and show what she’s capable of?

Feelgood Academy is directed and choreographed by Owen Smith (An Evening of Dance and Music with Anton Dubeke and Erin Boag), and features Ashley Knight (Louis Walsh in I Can’t Sing! at the London Palladium), Heather Jackson (Madame Giry in The Phantom of the Opera), Jodi Steele (Carmen in the 25th anniversary UK tour of Fame) and newcomer Faye Ellen.

Feelgood Academy has musical direction by Fiz Shapur, costume design by Linda Martin and sound design by Chris Full.

Feelgood Academy

Penny Lane is an accomplished singer/songwriter with many years’ experience in the music industry. She started her professional career straight from school singing on live radio shows with Tony Evans and various bands. Securing a five year contract with CBS Records, she also went on to sign up for a year as the first daytime host with Terry Wogan on Lunchtime with Wogan. Her TV credits also include over 50 appearances on various shows and BBC specials.

She has worked with many famous names including Cliff Richard, Johnny Mathis and Tony Bennett and has sung on stage in front of audiences at major venues throughout the world and on cruise ships where she hosted her own show. Her tremendously popular stage show The Talk of London led to a very successful season at The London Palladium and she has sung in front of HM the Queen at numerous Royal gala performances.

Lane developed her career to combine her singing voice with her talent as a songwriter and co-wrote with well know stars including Billy Ocean. Several of her songs have been recorded by major artists such as Gloria Gaynor and The Three Degrees. She also signed and performed the first recording of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables under the name Patricia Lane. More recently, she has successfully established herself as a singing coach, and her students have gone on to lead roles in West End musicals, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Les Misérables, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and Billy Elliot.

Glenn Keiles is an award-winning and versatile composer, songwriter and producer whose considerable portfolio includes music for over 400 TV programmes, and song-writing/music production for numerous artists. His TV work has been nominated for an Emmy and two BAFTA’s, and he has won a Promax World Gold award in the category of Best Original Music. His music has been used in many TV series including CSI, Martha Stuart’s Living, America’s Next Top Model and Good Morning America.

Fascinated by cinema and storytelling, Steve Jones completed his first screenplay in the early 1990s. Prior to writing Feelgood Academy, he collaborated with another musician and wrote the book for Fast Food The Musical, a darkly comical version of the invention of the fast food industry in the USA.

Tickets: £18, £12 concessions – available on 0844 357 2625 or online at www.stratford-circus.com/.

Stratford Circus, Theatre Square, London, E15 1BX