4 Christmas Theatre Shows To Put In Your Diary

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When it comes to getting festive and celebrating all things Christmas, there’s not much better than a trip to the theatre to see an incredible show with friends and family (apart from eating all that yummy turkey and Christmas pudding on December 25th, of course!)… so with that in mind, here are just a few of the many Christmas theatre shows taking place this year. Enjoy!

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella

Sadler’s Wells

This wartime interpretation of the classic fairy tale is a must-see, not least for the incredible costume and sets designed by Lez Brotherston (who won an Olivier Award for his trouble). It’s on from December 10th to January 18th, so there’s plenty of time to see it.

The Nutcracker

Royal Opera House

This Royal Ballet production of The Nutcracker is the perfect way to mark the start of the festive season and it’s something the entire family will enjoy – no matter how many times you go to see it. A brilliant Christmas tradition to start!

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

West Yorkshire Playhouse

We love this idea as a Christmas production! The classic novel is surely one of everyone’s favourite books to read and with set designs by Rae Smith of War Horse fame, it’s definitely one not to be missed this year.

Peter Pan – Christmas In Neverland

Arena Birmingham

This new arena production is festive, funny and perfect for all the family. Apparently, there’s a team of BMX stunt riders, aerial mermaids, a life-size Jolly Roger galleon, trapeze artists, custard pie slapstick specialists… it sounds amazing to us!

Want to book acting courses for adults? Get in touch with us today.

New Generation Of Actors ‘Not Learning Lines’!

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If you’re taking acting classes in Manchester or elsewhere, you’d better make sure you learn your lines – or you might end up incurring the wrath of Bafta-winning actor Bill Nighy!

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, the 67-year-old actor explained that it’s now become something of a trend for film and theatre thespians alike to refuse to learn their lines on purpose because they think – mistakenly – that it’ll improve their performance on the day.

Bill was quoted by the Daily Telegraph as saying: “If you’re doing anything, whether it’s a play or a film, learn every single word that you have to say backwards forwards and sideways before you go into a rehearsal room and before you go on a film set.

“That might sound like an obvious thing, but it’s not currently: there is a fashion for not knowing your lines. It’s been invented by people who don’t want to do their homework, even as a creative choice.”

Learning lines can be difficult and it can be a chore, but it’s an absolutely vital skill if you’re going to make it as an actor. Read through them to yourself a few times but then start reading them aloud as this will really help them stick.

Reading them with a friend can also be helpful (and a lot of fun), since they’ll be able to correct mistakes, give you cues and help you with any tricky parts. Moving about while you read them out loud can also be beneficial as a memory aid – try to feel the emotions of the part you’re playing so you can gain a greater understanding of the meaning of the words.

Theatre & Virtual Reality: Are You Ready?

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If you’ve been enjoying acting classes in Leeds with a view to one day being involved with the stage, whether it’s in a lead role or perhaps behind the scenes as a director perhaps, you might want to think about how you can upskill with regards to virtual reality (VR) as well.

There’s a growing trend for the use of technology in theatre so even if you don’t end up using your new skills, having an idea of how the industry is changing and becoming more innovative in this regard could certainly prove to be beneficial.

A new immersive lab has just opened up in Brighton, for example, that will allow theatre companies to experiment with VR. It’s being run by Digital Catapult, which has plans in place to open up a network of labs around the UK that will be available to businesses of all sizes.

“The UK has a rich heritage in sectors where immersive technologies are likely to have the largest and most immediate impact: the creative industries, manufacturing and health. So, establishing immersive labs in key regions across the country like this one in Brighton will further benefit the development of the industry,” head of immersive at Digital Catapult Aurelian Simon was quoted by The Stage as saying.

As an example of VR in action in theatre, take a look at this article also on The Stage website detailing how theatre-goers used VR headsets as part of a companion piece to an adaptation of Paul Auster’s City of Glass.

Apparently, the headsets were used to help people establish a deeper connection with the characters in the play and encourage them to really be intrigued by the play itself.

4 Benefits Of Acting Classes In Liverpool

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There are lots of different reasons that people decide to sign themselves up for acting classes in Liverpool and elsewhere – and it’s not always because they’re keen to see their name in lights as they tread the boards each night. Here are just a couple of benefits – aside from stardom – that might encourage you to take a few acting lessons yourself.

Boost your communication skills

You’ll become a lot more confident in your communication skills if you have a few lessons with an experienced acting coach. They can teach you how best to enunciate your words, how to add meaning to what you’re saying through new tones of voice and lots more. You may not recognise yourself after a couple of classes!

Improve your self-confidence

It can take quite a lot of strength to get up in front of people and start speaking all by yourself. Public speaking is something a lot of people do struggle with but acting classes can really help you become more confident in yourself. This will cross over to the rest of your life and will certainly help yield positive results in other areas.

Improve your poise and posture

Actors become incredibly self-aware after a while and you’ll soon start to notice your posture and areas that need improvement. Acting isn’t just standing there and reciting lines – it’s also about body movement and expression in other ways.

Thinking on your feet

You’re sure to do lots of improvisation in your acting classes and this can help you think more creatively and in a more flexible way… skills you could certainly use elsewhere in your life as well.


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Leeds is the commercial capital of Yorkshire and has been transformed almost beyond recognition over the decades. The city is one of the UK’s most exciting cultural hubs and is home to a variety of world-class theatre and concert venues, eateries, museums and clubs. Both the BBC and ITV have sizeable bases in the city, and it is the birthplace of leading cultural figures including Julian Barratt, Malcolm McDowell, Angela Griffin, Brian Mosley, Peter O’Toole, John Simm, Ernie Wise, Gabby Logan, Gaynor Faye and Mel B.

The city is home to The Theatre, The Grand Theatre and the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Its most well-known concert venues include the First Direct Arena, O2 Academy, the University of Leeds, Leeds Metropolitan University, the Belgrave Music Hall and the City Varieties Music Hall. The intimate Brudenell Social Club, located in the bohemian, student-friendly area of Hyde Park just a mile or so out of the city centre, is one of the most-loved cult venues in the UK.

The long-running soap Emmerdale is shot at a purpose-built set at the Harewood Estate and at ITV Yorkshire’s studios on Kirkstall Road where the likes of A Touch of Frost, Heartbeat, 3-2-1 and The Royal were created. Countdown was filmed at the studios until 2009. ActUpNorth Leeds is also based at Kirkstall Road.

If you’re seeking an educational day out in Leeds, you may well wish to head to the Royal Armouries, home to the national arms and armour collection, and the City Art Gallery, which has one of the finest collections of 20th century art outside of the capital. Arts festivals and exhibitions take place throughout the year, and the vast range of eateries means you’ll never struggle to find something that suits no matter what your tastes are, with culinary cultures from around the world being represented generously.

Kirkstall Abbey is one of the most well-known beauty sports in West Yorkshire. The 12th century Cistercian monasteries is surrounded by gorgeous parkland and been a source of inspiration for thousands of painters. It offers fascinating wildlife, stunning greenery and features an interactive visitor centre as well as the Abbey House Museum, which features Victorian streets and shops with their original fittings.

Roundhay Park is one of Europe’s biggest city parks and is located three miles out of the city. It includes epic parkland, beautiful lakes, gardens and woodlands as well as a number of cafes and playgrounds. The site is also home to Tropical World, which welcomes more than a million people through its doors each year and enables you to witness alien landscapes and breath-taking plant life.

Leeds Corn Exchange is one of the most exciting places to shop in the city and is home to a range of distinctive boutiques and cafes. The Exchange itself is an oval Grade I listed building and first opened in 1863. The Exchange is located just across the road from Kirkgate Market, which is the largest covered market in Europe and was the birthplace of Marks and Spencer. The city also plays host to other world-famous retail hubs including the White Rose Centre, Trinity Leeds and The Core. Leeds is surrounded by some of the lushest countryside Yorkshire has to offer, with its railway station and Leeds Bradford Airport enabling you to reach a range of leading national and international locations with ease.

ActUpNorth are proud to have a base in this vibrant Yorkshire city.


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Liverpool is one of the north’s most exciting and historic cities. The birthplace of The Beatles is home to two prestigious football teams and has more listed buildings than any other city outside of the M25. The city has benefitted remarkably from investment over recent years, but thankfully hasn’t been transformed beyond all recognition. Some of Liverpool’s most famous sons and daughters include not only the Fab Four, but Cilla Black, Beryl Bainbridge, Jean ‘Hilda Ogden’ Alexander, Kim Cattrall, Stephanie Davies, Gillian Kearney, the McGann brothers, Paul O’Grady, Liza Tarbuck, Craig Charles, Les Dennis, Stephen Graham, Kenneth Cope, Alexei Sayle and Leonard Rossiter.

The Merseyside city plays host to some of the most interesting galleries and museums in the UK. The Albert Dock is one of the city’s most iconic sights, with the docking complex featuring the biggest collection of Grade I-listed buildings in the country. It was also the home of This Morning until the mid-1990s. The most popular tourist destinations in the city include The Beatles Story, the reconstructed Cavern Club, where the Fab Four honed their craft, the Liverpool Cathedral, the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, the World Museum, the Walker Art Gallery, the Tate Liverpool art gallery, St George’s Hall and the Merseyside Maritime Museum. The childhood homes of Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney are now owned by The National Trust and are open for public viewing.

The long-running soap Brookside was shot in West Kirby, around 12 miles outside of the city until its 2003 demise. Brookie was widely-regarded as one of the most innovative soaps in television history and was noted for its often hard-hitting and pioneering storylines. Teen soap Hollyoaks took over some of the locations previously used for Brookside, though much of the action is now shot at Lime Pictures’ studios in Childwall, despite being set in Chester. Other TV shows shot or partially shot in Liverpool include Bread, Little Boy Blue, Boys from the Blackstuff, Grange Hill, Peaky Blinders, Z Cars and The Liver Birds. The city has also featured in a range of big-budget films including the 51st State, Nowhere Boy and Shirley Valentine.

As you may expect from a city of such stature, culinary connoisseurs are catered for brilliantly in Liverpool, with cuisine from around the world being available. Some of the most highly-rated Liverpudlian eateries include The Art School, Panoramic 34, 60 Hope Street and the London Carriage Works. There are scores of high-profile music and theatre venues and clubs in the city, such as the 02 Academy, the Zanzibar Club, the Philharmonic Hall, the Epstein theatre (named after the late Beatles and Cilla manager) and the Echo Arena. Clubbers’ favourites are Mansion, Heebie Jeebies, Kingdom, Kazimier Garden, the Krazyhouse, Level and the LGBT-friendly Heaven.

Top places to shop in Liverpool include Liverpool ONE, St John’s Market and the Grand Central Hall. Ropewalks is a vibrant and bohemian area that houses a host of boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Liverpool Lime Street provide exceptional transport links. It’s no wonder so many people choose to visit and even relocate to Liverpool.

ActUpNorth are proud to have a base in this vibrant city.


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Manchester is a cultural hotbed with a fascinating history that’s the third-biggest city in the UK. The city has undergone vast changes since the IRA bombing of 1996, becoming one of the exciting and diverse regions in Europe. Home to two globally-famous football teams, a host of world-class venues and a plethora of prestigious buildings, the city is just across the river from Salford, who’s quay is now home to Media City, base of the several BBC departments and countless other media organisations.

The city’s former Hacienda nightclub has been the inspiration for a host of vibrant bars and clubs. The Hacienda was based on Whitworth Street West across from what is now the cultural hub home, between 1982 and 1997 and was the base of the ‘Madchester’ phenomenon of the late 1980s and early 1990s, having a robust association with bands including the Stone Roses, New Order and the Happy Mondays. Oasis, arguably the city’s most famous musical export, played at the Hacienda in 1994.

Coronation Street, the world’s longest-running soap opera was shot at the iconic Granada Studios, just a short walk away from the former Hacienda site, between 1960 and 2014. Hacienda and Factory Records founder Tony Wilson AKA ‘Mr Manchester’, was a Granada Reports presenter for decades, diving his time between hosting regional news, launching new bands and much, much more. Corrie production has now moved just a couple of miles away to Salford Quays, with its former studios now being used for a range of cultural events.

Some of the most-loved UK TV series ever have been shot in Manchester. Iconic series synonymous with the city include Cold Feet, Mastermind, The Royle Family, Cracker, Queer as Folk, Red Dwarf, Prime Suspect and Brideshead Revisited. The city is also noted as a world-class place to eat and drink, playing host to a range of luxury eateries and bars, many of which can be found around Deansgate, St Ann’s Square and King Street. The city is also famous for its Northern Quarter, an area in the north of the city which features a plethora of record shops, alternative clothes shops, bars and cafes. It also has its own Chinatown, which includes a cluster of highly-authentic oriental restaurants and one of the most notable gay villages in the world, the extremely lively and welcoming Canal Street. Those seeking out rural scenery can reach the countryside in just 15-20 minutes.

Those seeking an educational day out in Manchester are catered for fantastically, with the Museum of Science and Industry, Town Hall and Library, Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Art Gallery being amongst its most renowned places to relax and learn. When it comes to clothes shopping, there’s something for everyone, whether you’re on a budget or wish to enjoy a spot of retail therapy in designer boutiques, offering garments from some of the world’s most iconic fashion houses. The popularity of Manchester shows no signs of heading into decline, with Greater Manchester welcoming around 1.4 million international investors each year.

ActUpNorth are proud to have a base in this vibrant city.

Acting Classes in Leeds

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Act Up North Retina Logo

Founded by acting coach Peter Hunt in 2009, ActUpNorth is the largest and most successful independent training program for adults outside the London area. It is the leading provider of part time actor training with centres in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. The programs are designed to prepare actors for the industry by using highly skilled and successful actors and industry professionals alike. This ensures that actors receive top quality guidance and training to break into the industry.

Auditions to the courses are through group audition. All levels of ability are catered for. This allows adult actors to grow as professionals and have their tuition independently tailored to the individual needs as an actor and performer. This flexible approach and guest teaching spots have now also been enhanced by a recent partnership with ALRA London, adding to the already substantial professional support and training offered.

The Leeds centre was the first of the academies to open in 2009. Adult actors travel from as far as Hull, Newcastle and several other areas in the North East to access this training and modern new approach to acting. With 80 students over nights, ActUpNorth are now also introducing children’s acting classes on a Sunday from September 2015.

The sessions are regularly observed by industry professionals such as Casting Directors, Agents, Producers and Directors. The Leeds centre operates from a working television studio housing productions such as DCI Banks, The Syndicate and several other independent film and television productions which are on the rise in the area. As a direct result of this, many students have gone on to secure auditions and speaking roles in these productions.

ActUpNorth Leeds has a fantastic working relationship with the Northern Film School, allowing many students to take part in trainee director projects and films. This already had opened up numerous opportunities for adult actors training at the centre.

With its base in the heart of TV land on Kirkstall Road in Leeds, ActUpNorth Leeds has become the first port of call for many northern productions and casting directors, particularly Emmerdale which is based just across the road. As the largest and most successful training provider for adult actors in Leeds, the centre offers masterclasses by some of the top names in the industry such as Sue Jones Casting – ‘Nil by Mouth’, ‘Human Traffic’, Sue Jones Casting Director ‘Emmerdale’, June West Casting Director ‘Coronation Street’, ‘The Royle Family’, Stephen Moore Casting Director ‘Doctors’ and ‘Eastenders’, Sarah Hughes Casting Director ‘2 Pints’ & ‘Jonathan Creek’, Martin Gibbons Commercial Casting Director, Nicci Topping Commercial Casting Director, and Rick Laxton Hollyoaks Casting Director…. to name but a few. With ActUpNorth growing in popularity and success, the future for adult acting classes in Leeds looks bright. Watch this space…………………

A Wonderful Letter From Yvonne Okyere

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Hi Peter,

I hope this email finds you in good health. This is to provide an update to you all of what I’ve been up to since leaving ActUpNorth Leeds last year.

I returned to Ghana in West Africa to join my husband, see my family and also complete the Ghana Bar which is only 9 months (as in already qualified in the UK). Bring qualified in Ghana means I am able to practice as a lawyer in both Ghana and the UK. Thankfully I’ve been able to achieve all reasons why I relocated to Ghana. I will officially be called to the Ghana Bar in October this year and I’m really excited about that!

On the other side of the coin, I had a role in a movie called ‘Love Regardless’, playing the character of Rachael. Please find link on YouTube below.


This movie became very successful and I went on to receive two nominations for my performance in the premier edition of Golden Movie Awards. My nominations were for “Best Supporting Actress” and “Most Promising Actress”. The awards night was held on the 27th of June 2015 and I scooped the Most Promising Actress award. This was broadcasted online and in various newspapers. I have following the award had many TV and radio interviews etc. it’s all very exciting!

Thanks for the experience and training I received in Leeds. I’m very grateful!


Yvonne Okyere –Whalley

Huge Thanks to Mark Heller – Film Director Who Taught All Our Classes in Liverpool This Week

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Mark Heller began his career as an actor and trained at the prestigious Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. After several years working both on screen and on stage, Mark then started work as a director. Mark directed a number of plays in London’s West End, including the world premiere of The Diary at the Tabbard Theatre and Writers Block at the Players Theatre. Mark also work in the states and directed ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and ‘Let it snow’ at the Beverly Hills theatre Los Angeles.

Mark Heller made his move from stage to screen as behind the Scenes director on Stephanie Daley with Oscar winners Timothy Hutton, Tilda Swinton and Melissa Leo. In the same year Mark wrote and directed his first short Film Tomorrow which starred Daniel Franzese

Mark directed his first feature film The Passage in 2006 which was produced by Lynette Howell of Silverwood Films (Half Nelson, Blue Valentine ) and Jeremy Kipp walker (Maria Full of Grace) The Passage starred Stephen Dorff and Neil Jackson and was accepted into the official selection of the discovery category at the Toronto film festival 2007. The Passage was also entered into the Durango film festival and won the Jury commendation award for best feature.

After the success of The Passage Mark went straight into directing Star Crossed a modernization of Romeo and Juliet which was filmed in Porto and had its premiere in Portugal summer 2009.

Mark’s third feature film The Mulberry tree, a drama centered on a young man working in a Rhode Island state corrections system and his relationship with a convicted murderer who is dying of AIDS, Staring Joe Morton. The Mulberry tree has won Best Narrative Feature Charlotte Film festival 2012, Best Narrative Feature Irvine International film Festival 2012, Best Director Prescott Film Festival 2011, Best feature Harlem Film Festival 2011, Best Actress Harlem Film Festival 2011, Best Actor Harlem Film Festival 2011, Best feature Jersey Shore Film festival 2011, Nominated Clint Eastwood filmmaking Award 2011.

Official section at Independent Film Festival Boston, Flicker Rhode Island Festival, Salem Film Festival, Woods Hole Film Festival, Garden State Film Festival 2011, Carmel Film festival 2011, Vail film Festival 2012, SOHO International Film Festival NYC 2012, charlotte film festival 2012.

He went on to direct a new drama for the BBC ‘Justice’ starring Robert Pugh ‘Justice’ has been Nominated for a Television Broadcast Award 2012 and a TV Choice Awards 2011.

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