Ariel aims to open new drama academy in Horsham

Ariel Company Theatre has announced that it is opening a new drama academy on Saturday, April 28, based at the Roffey Millennium Hall.

Thursday, 1st March 2018, 12:49 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:35 am
Ariels top team for new Horsham Academy: Becky Gavin, Chelsea Hennessey, Ben Simpson and Kyle Brown

Ariel is a family theatre company and a leading light in all aspects of theatrical training, including dance, drama and singing, with established academies in Crawley, East Grinstead, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath and Steyning.

The new academy will run every Saturday afternoon from 2.15pm to 5pm welcoming students aged seven to 19.

Ariel’s award winning academies are run by a team of dedicated tutors who aim to give students a real love of performing. Ariel helps to develop skills for life such as confident public speaking, collaboration skills and teamwork.

Students have the opportunity to make new friends and perform in a variety of events including plays and musicals, and on the professional stages of The Capitol in Horsham, The Hawth in Crawley and at the Brighton Fringe.

Everyone is welcome to come along and there is no audition process. Free taster sessions are available.

The Horsham team is headed up by principal Ben Simpson who brings with him a wealth of knowledge having trained at the London School of Musical Theatre. Ben is an experienced producer and actor whose credits include shows at the Theatre Royal Brighton, Chichester Festival Theatre, The Brighton Fringe, The National Theatre and The Royal College of Music. Ben headed up the Ariel team when the Haywards Heath Academy opened in 2014 and this year will be bringing his expertise to Ariel’s debut at the Brighton Fringe, when he directs a double bill of plays; Bassett and The Grandfathers.

Ben said: “I am very excited about the opening of the Horsham Academy. The students can develop their performance skills across all three disciplines with experienced teachers. We are a very inclusive school, so whether you have heaps of experience or are a total novice you will be made welcome.

“We will be working on a wide range of material from great classic musicals to contemporary plays and current chart hits. Whether you aspire to be a professional performer or just want some fun and to make new friends, come along for a taster session.”

Ben will be joined by a very experienced team, which includes dance tutor Beth Gavin who graduated from Roehampton University with a First Class Honours degree in Drama, Theatre and Performance studies in 2014. Beth is an Associate Member of the British Ballet Organisation (BBO) and also works as a Theatre Agent, representing actors in theatre, television and film.

Drama will be taught by Kyle Brown who started his acting career at 15 after being scouted by an agent during a drama workshop. Since then he’s appeared in a range of productions both on stage and screen. Stage credits include Carmen and original musical Secrets at the Leicester Square Theatre and TV work and commercials for Newsround, Disney, Virgin Airlines and Morrisons.

Teaching singing skills will be tutor Chelsea Hennessey who has been with Ariel since its inception in 2004. Starting as a student on Ariel’s very first day, eventually Chelsea moved on to teaching and has been working at the Burgess Hill Academy for four years. In addition Chelsea teaches and works with Ariel’s special needs groups, the Othellos and Othellos Plus. She has worked as musical director on a number of Ariel workshops and projects, including Annie, Junior Musicality and a performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End.

Ensuring the smooth running of the academy and providing a very warm welcome to students will be administrator Becky Gallagher. Becky has lived in Horsham all her life and has grown up surrounded by Amateur Dramatics as her parents were founding members of HAODS. She grew up watching and performing in shows and her first part was as a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz.

Rehearsals for Ariel’s main musical productions Les Misérables will soon be starting and the show will play at The Capitol Theatre, Horsham, from November 11-17. For more information on Ariel’s Horsham Academy or visit

To register for a free trial contact Nicci Hopson on 01444 250407.

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