Borders actress, 18, aims for career on big stage

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A talented actress from Lauder hopes her starring role in a performance of Spring Awakening at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre will set her on the path to a glittering stage career in London’s West End.

Grace Rhatigan, a former pupil of Earlston High School who honed her skills whilst performing with the Galashiels Operatic Society, impressed hundreds of people with her role in The MGA Academy of Performing Arts’ production of the Tony-Award-winning Broadway show.

The 18-year-old, who is currently studying acting at the Edinburgh-based performing arts academy, was spurred on to pursue a career in the industry by her grandmother, who had hoped to work in the industry herself.

Grace explained: “My Granny Mo always wanted to be an actress but her parents wouldn’t let her so she encouraged me to do it. I decided to train at The MGA Academy after seeing one of their productions and being really impressed by how professional it was.

“This was my first public performance with The MGA Academy and it was fantastic training for me as I had to learn how to be in character for the duration of the show.

“The audiences seemed to be really moved by the show which was great as it’s exactly what we were aiming for. I was quite nervous at first but I absolutely loved being on stage.”

Spring Awakening, which opened on Broadway in 2006, is a risqué rock musical set in Germany and explores themes of youthful revolt, sexuality and morality.

The MGA Academy’s production of the musical, which was directed by Andrew Gowland, aimed to introduce the future stars of the stage to Scottish audiences.

Marcella Macdonald, principal of The MGA Academy, said: “We are very proud of Grace and her outstanding contribution to our production of Spring Awakening. The whole cast were a credit to themselves and the wealth of learning they have undertaken at MGA.

“We give students extra tools to add to their CV that will allow them to succeed in a range of disciplines when they graduate, and, in this show, they all strongly reflected their growth and improvement as performers.”

The MGA Academy was founded ten years ago by Murray Grant and Andrew Gowland, providing a platform for Scottish talent in performing arts to remain in Scotland to obtain accredited SQA training at an equivalent level offered by established London colleges.

West End star Fergal McGoff (Mamma Mia, The Bodyguard) and Rebecca Stenhouse, who is currently portraying female lead Elle Woods in Legally Blonde in America, represent just a couple of success stories from The MGA Academy, benefiting from 30 hours a week of tutor engagement and a ‘family feel’ engendered by a class-size limit of 35 students.

Grace, who hopes to pursue a West End career, added: “I’ve been so lucky to have had the opportunity to perform on professional stages whilst still studying. My dream would be to be cast as Fantine in Les Miserables.”