We caught up with the musical theatre performer, Laura Bryan, as she prepared to take the lead in fast-paced hit show Bring It On
Laura Bryan is back in her home town starring as the lead in the Alexandra’s Stage Experience production of Bring It On. Each summer The theatre invites rising stars from across the region to audition for a week-long run of a hit musical as part of their youth theatre production programme, Stage Experience.
The established programme has been running for 18 years, giving countless youngsters valuable experience of a professional set-up. Last year it was Fame which Laura was part of (pictured). This year it’s Jeff Whitty and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Bring It On, in which she plays Campbell – competitive queen bee, people pleaser and squad captain at Truman High School.
We caught up with Laura before the show opened and she was itching to get started. Since the show has cheerleading at its heart, of which Laura has no experience, the two-week rehearsal might be needed and possibly painful! Having said that Laura has always danced – ballet, jazz and contemporary – and has done a bit of gymnastics, so she reckons she’ll be okay. Two weeks isn’t long to polish a show as complex as Bring It On, but Laura recognises it’s a great opportunity.
Growing up in Dorridge meant that Laura had Brum’s theatres on her doorstep and from an early age indulged her passion for musical theatre. Having been a regular at the Alexandra as a child, it’s a dream performing on the stage.
Dancing since she was just three-years-old and singing for seven years, Laura joined Birmingham’s School of Theatre Excellence (SOTE) and carried on classes online with them through lockdown followed by two years boarding at Tring Park School for Performing Arts. Going from lockdown to boarding school and being away from family seems like quite a leap, but Laura says she didn’t overthink it and just threw herself into it making the most of the opportunity.
She has performed with the D-Day Juniors, most recently appearing as a guest act on Britain’s Got Talent and has always grabbed opportunities to be part of musical productions inside and out of school, including playing the lead role in Legally Blonde Junior.
Of the Alexandra’s programme, Simon Creed, theatre director, says: “The West Midlands is a melting pot of theatrical talent and Stage Experience forms a hugely important part of the Alex’s calendar.” Successful applicants like Laura work alongside industry professionals including directors, choreographers and technical teams, to bring a full-scale production to audiences in just two weeks. For those who have an interest in working behind the scenes, in lighting, sound, wardrobe, stage management and more, there are a number of technical placements available.
As you’d expect, in a city brimming with such talent, the focus on youth programmes at Birmingham’s theatres generally is impressive with all the major venues excelling. For instance, the Hippodrome runs a Musical Theatre Youth Company for youngsters aged between 11 and 18 years meeting every Saturday while the Rep runs a Young Rep programme for budding actors aged 7 to 18 years. There is a charge for both but bursaries are available.
Laura considers the opportunity that Stage Experience has given her a crucial part of her development. The programme is billed as a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience except Laura’s done it twice! As well as gaining experience in a professional setting, the intensity of the production and short lead time means she’s forged firm friendships too.
The talented teen hopes to build on the experience and enjoy an exciting career like her heroes, including Carrie Hope Fletcher famed for playing Éponine and Fantine in Les Miserables and Samantha Barks whose career took off after coming third in the BBC’s I’d Do Anything and who went on to star as Elsa in Frozen.