Artistic Director and founder of The Biz, Erika Vincent has been in show business for over thirty years since making her stage debut at the age of four in a Royal Gala in The West End.

After training at the famous Bush-Davies School, her career has taken her to the English National Opera Company at the London Coliseum where her performances included La Traviata and Simon Boccanegra, to The Royal National Theatre where she performed in the European premiere and Olivier award winning production of Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George, and The West End where her credits include creating the role of Maria Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes with Ron Moody at the Cambridge Theatre as well as numerous productions such as West Side Story playing Rosalia, Cynthia in Mr Cinders, Jessica in The Merchant of Venice, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and Suki Tawdry in The Beggars Opera. Whilst with The English National Opera, Erika was asked to star as one of only four soloists in An Evening with Stephen Sondheim in the West End directed by the world renowned Opera Director Keith Warner. Erika has also starred in several pantomimes including the title role in Snow White, Alice Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington and Maid Marion in Robin Hood. Film appearances include feature films such as Heaven's Gate with John Hurt and Kris Krisstoferson, (directed by Michael Cimino). TV appearances include her television debut at the age of nine in Junior Showtime, several Royal Variety Performances, Omnibus, Children in Need and recently she has appeared on BBC’s Copycats, Xchange and Blue Peter. Cabaret appearances include performances at many prestigious venues such as The Dorchester, Grosvenor House Hotel, The Landmark Hotel and The Intercontinental in London. Erika also has extensive experience as a Director and Choreographer for several Musicals including Annie, Grease, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Tours, Summer Seasons and Pantomimes. As an Executive Producer, Erika has been responsible for productions such as Kind Hearts and Coronets with Robert Powell and Colin Baker, The 39 Steps starring Simon Ward and George Sewell, The Ladykillers with Tim Brooke-Taylor, Dulcie Gray and Brian Murphy, Passport to Pimlico with Ian Lavender and Kate O'Mara as well as pantomimes and summer repertory seasons. Erika runs THE BIZ THEATRE SCHOOL based in Surrey and has also directed and produced Les Miserables, Grease, Footloose, West Side Story, Beauty and The Beast, The King and I, The Wiz, Guys and Dolls, Fame and Oliver! raising over £30,000 for local Children’s charities.

 

Head of Dance - Amy Hamlen - (Dance, Singing and Drama).

Amy is originally from Bristol, where she began ballet at the age of 3. She then moved on to train at Laine Theatre Arts, where she graduated   in 2009 with a Trinity Diploma in Musical theatre, and an additional Diploma in Speech and Drama with distinction. Since then she has performed in many styles of theatre, from opera to Shakespeare, including most recently A Little Night Music at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford. Other shows include Hamlet, A Christmas Carol, Sweeney Todd, and the Olivier award winning production of La Boheme.

Amy has taught for many different performing Arts schools, both in Bristol and in Surrey, including Laine Theatre Arts children school, Guildford School of Acting’s full time degree students and Bristol School of Performing Arts. She also teaches for Discover, a group for disabled adults based at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Amy is the Associate Director of Apollo Theatre Company, a Guildford based company. Amy is excited to join The Biz team and is looking forward to working with everyone!

Musical Director – Sam Coates. Sam is a freelance musical director and keyboard player working on shows across the country. He is a graduate of the University of Surrey attaining a BMus (Hons) Creative Music Technology degree, and studied Jazz piano at Birmingham Conservatoire under Mike Williams. Sam was recently Musical Director/Bandleader for P&O Cruises on board the cruise liner ‘MV Azura’, sailing around the Caribbean over the 2013/2014 winter season. MD Credits include: Les Miserables (The Palace Theatre Redditch), DreamArts West End Gala 2014 (The Playhouse, West End), Spring Awakening (Rhoda McGaw), Fiddler on the Roof (Nomad Theatre), Oliver! (The Palace Theatre Redditch), Billy Elliot: The Musical (Malvern Theatres), The Witches of Eastwick (University of Surrey), Surrey Arts LIVE! (University of Surrey). Other Piano/Keyboard credits include: Jesus Christ Superstar, Miss Saigon, Jekyll & Hyde, Chess, Guys & Dolls, Anything Goes, Titanic, All Shook Up, Crazy for You

Choreographer – Phyllida Crowley Smith. Phyllida began training as a dancer at her mother’s school. She then went to Bush Davies School of Theatre Arts where she won the Cosmopolitan Magazine Young Dancer of the Year Award, the Noreen Bush Scholarship and the Dancing Times award for Choreography. She currently runs the dance department at the Guildford School of Acting. Choreographic credits include ‘Just So’ (Tabard Theatre) for which she was nominated for Best Choreography in the Off West’ End Awards 2011, ‘Peter Pan’ (Wyvern Theatre, Swindon), ‘Calamity Jane’ (Upstairs at the Gatehouse), the European Premiere of ‘A Man of No Importance’ at the Union Theatre, London and which transferred to the Arts Theatre in the West End, ‘Swingtime Radio’ for Bourne Leisure which she also devised, ‘Tickledom’ (Upstairs at the Gatehouse), ‘A Chorus Line’ (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre), ‘Totally Frank’ (Channel 4), ‘Mike Doyle and Friends’ (ITV Wales). Other work includes directing ‘Seussical’ (Casino Theatre, Geneva), ‘The Twits’ and ‘Ernie's Incredible Illucinations’ (Simply Theatre, C-Too, Edinburgh Festival), Resident Choreographer on ‘Mary Poppins’ UK National Tour, having also held that position in the West End production and assisting Gillian Lynne on the Fonteyn Nureyev Competition for the Royal Academy of Dance. Creative work at GSA includes: 'Flora the Red Menace', 'Grease', 'And the World Goes Round' (directed and staged), 'The Drowsy Chaperone', ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’, 'The Producers’, ‘Candide’, ‘Children of Eden’ (directed and staged), ‘Guys and Dolls’ (directed and staged), ‘West Side Story’, ‘Nine’, ‘The Life’ and several BA and MA musical theatre showcases with director Michael Vivian. She has also directed workshops of ‘Kismet’, ‘West Side Story’ and ‘On the Town’. Film credits include: ‘Beyond the Sea’ directed by Kevin Spacey and ‘Cats’ in which she played the part of Victoria.

Recently Phyllida appeared in the premiere of 'Night Horses' in Montpellier and as Titania/Hippolyta in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' with the Performance Research Group at Blenheim Palace, directed by Jaq Bessell. Performance Credits include: Original London casts of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ and ‘Fame’, other West End credits include: ‘Grease’, ‘Cats’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’. Other performing work includes: playing the role of Millie the Millipede in The Song Tree for BBC Schools, ‘Oklahoma!’ (National Tour) playing the role of Dream Laurie, ‘Heathcliff’ with Cliff Richard (National Tour), ‘Fred Astaire - his Daughter's Tribute’ (London Palladium) and‘The Ghosts of Oxford Street’ for Malcolm McLaren (Channel 4 TV). For The Biz, she has choreographed West Side Story, Footloose, Grease and Les Miserables.

Guest Staging Director – Jimmy Johnston. Jimmy was born and bred in Newport, South Wales and left behind a promising boxing career (he was Welsh Champion) to train in musical theatre at drama school in London. Jimmy’s theatre credits include Justin Jones in Soul Man at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, Phil/Older Bobby in Dreamboats and Petticoats (Playhouse Theatre), Thenardier in Les Miserables (Queens Theatre), Phantom of the Opera (Her Majesty’s), Will Parker in Oklahoma! (Royal National Theatre and Lyceum)- for which he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Olivier Awards, Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance (Regents Park Open Air Theatre) – for which he was nominated again for Best Actor at the Olivier Awards, the original London casts of Miss Saigon, A Tribute to the Blues Brothers and Sherlock Holmes the Musical, West End productions of Cats (in which he has played all the male roles – to his knowledge, the only actor to have done so) , King (Prince Edward) and Barnum with Michael Crawford at the Victoria Palace Theatre, The Wizard of Oz at Bristol Old Vic playing the Scarecrow, Dr. Dolittle National Tour with Russ Abbot and Philip Scofield playing Matthew Mugg, Whistle Down the Wind and The Likes of Us at Andrew Lloyd Webbers Sydmonton Festival, the British Premiere of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Theatre Royal York, Jean de Florette at the Jermyn Street Theatre and Sir Cliff Richard’s production of Heathcliff playing Hindley/Earnshaw. Jimmy revisited his role of Will Parker in the Emmy Award winning film of Oklahoma! with Hugh Jackman and Maureen Lipman and will be seen in a new film Our Robot Overloads with Ben Kingsley in 2014. Other work includes Fred Astaire, His Daughter’s Tribute at the London Palladium with Cyd Charisse, Anne Miller and Jane Powell to name but a few, soloist in the Disney Prom in Hyde Park with the BBC Concert Orchestra, appearing in the Old Vic’s workshop for Billy Elliot, the 10th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables at the Royal Albert Hall and performing in the World Premiere of A Band of Brothers at The New Theatre Cardiff which lead to a performance at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff singing in front his beloved Welsh Rugby team as they took on England (sadly it was a draw).

Jimmy’s television credits include the role of Critias in Atlantis a new BBC series due to go on air later this year, the recent Upstairs Downstairs, Holby City, The Bill, The Lenny Henry Show, Mike Doyle and Friends, The Lyrics Game, Talking Telephone Numbers, The Heat Is On – the making of Miss Saigon, Les Miserables – Stage by Stage, Wogan, Barnum and several Royal Variety Shows. Directing credits include The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The Pirates of Penzance, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and On Broadway. Jimmy has been regularly heard on BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night and he also devised and directed Swingtime Radio for Bourne Leisure. In his spare time he will be glued to any good sporting event – football, golf, tennis, skiing, F1 and of course, rugby.……oh and he has a wife and two kids. For The Biz, he choreographed West Side Story in 2011 and stage/fight Director for Les Miserables in 2014.

Biz Babes - Emma Smithurst. Emma was an original member of the Biz theatre school, playing the role of Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Maria in West Side Story, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady amongst others and is thrilled to be back and is enjoying teaching Biz Babes.  Emma has extensive experience working with little ones as she has previously worked in nurseries and after school clubs as well as working as a teacher/ producer at Perform. Trained at International School of Screen Acting, London.

Stage Manager – Neil Wilder. Neil trained at Guildford School of Acting. Recent Work includes Zeppelin Dreams for English Touring Opera, Virgin for Watford Palace Theatre, Wuthering Heights for Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon and Count Ory for Opera South.

Other Work Includes Les Miserables, Grease, Footloose, Beauty and the Beast, The Wiz, Fame and The King and I for Biz Productions, Merrie England, La Perichole and Peter the Great for Opera South, Wolfboy at Trafalgar Studios, West End, Noises Off for Birmingham Rep Theatre, Blithe Spirit and Educating Rita for the Watermill Theatre in Newbury, eleven seasons of panto for Qdos Entertainment at Wolverhampton, Llandudno, Woking, Birmingham and Nottingham, Oklahoma (Kilworth House Theatre), Waiting for Godot, Chapter Two, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me and The Golden Goose, all for Library Theatre Co., Manchester, Rabbit by Nina Raine (Old Red Lion Theatre, Islington, and Trafalgar Studios, West End) Promises and Lies (Birmingham Rep Theatre); Robert and Elizabeth (GSA), Dance Showcase.