A former Northampton College student is returning to the town that trained her for theatrical success by performing in Hairspray at the Royal & Derngate.
Twenty-three-year-old Vanessa Fisher studied a two-year course in Performing Arts (Musical Theatre) at Northampton College in 2011. She’s now playing one-third of girl group the Dynamites in the production, which launched two weeks ago in Leicester to standing ovations. It hits the Royal & Derngate this week before continuing on a national tour currently booking until May 2016 – not bad for Vanessa’s first professional role!
Northampton College’s professional approach aims to prepare performing arts students for careers on the stage, and Vanessa certainly credits its teaching with her current success.
“Before I started the course I was in the sixth form and taking dance. I knew I wanted to audition for performing arts schools in London later on and just didn’t feel ready; I didn’t think the sixth form was preparing me well enough,” explained Vanessa. “I switched to Northampton College and noticed the difference immediately. The staff are absolutely fantastic and really helped me get to where I am today.”
Vanessa honed her technical dance and singing skills on her college course, trying out new forms of dance and preparing for the rigours of auditioning for further study in London. She successfully gained a place on the BA in Professional Dance and Music Theatre at the Urdang Academy in London, where her performance in the final showcase secured her an agent. They put her forward to audition for Hairspray, and she secured her role earlier this year.
Hairspray is set in Baltimore in 1962 and tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, ‘a big girl with big hair and an even bigger dream: to dance her way onto national TV, and into the heart of teen idol Link Larkin’.
“Audiences can’t help but love it, the music, costumes and staging are just fantastic,” said Vanessa. “But it’s also got such an important message; it’s about race, and image, and acceptance, and that’s so relevant today.”
Vanessa is now looking forward to continuing the show’s early success, before trying out for her next role in the new year. “I’d love to get a part in a play or on a TV show, just carry on trying out different things,” she said. “But it would be amazing to do another musical as well, I’m having so much fun!”
As for advice to fellow aspiring performers at Northampton College, Vanessa has some words of inspiration: “Be determined, find the right teachers and work hard. I actually didn’t start performing until quite late, so if I can do it, anyone can!”
Catch Vanessa in the UK tour of Hairspray at the Royal & Derngate from 28th September to 3rd October. Tickets are available from the Royal & Derngate website www.royalandderngate.co.uk.
For more information about Hairspray, visit www.hairsprayuktour.com