Young stars perform the Broadway smash hit musical Guys and Dolls

Aspiring young actors brought the bright lights of Broadway to Westminster Kingsway College when they performed the smash hit musical Guys and Dolls.

Performing Arts Level 3 Diploma students starred in the spectacular show for parents, staff and students at the college’s theatre at its King’s Cross Centre.

The musical, which was turned into a 1955 film starring Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons, featured the classic songs Luck Be a Lady, Marry The Man Today, Sue Me, I’ve Never Been in Love Before and Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat.

The show set in New York tells the story of gangster Nathan Detroit, who is engaged to Miss Adelaide, and high roller Sky Masterson, who falls in love with mission worker Sarah Brown.

The WestKing cast included Emilis Jarasius as Nathan Detroit, Dalia Ishak as Miss Adelaide, Demani Marshall as Sky Masterson, and Caprice Dawkins as Sarah Brown.

As part of their preparation the cast went to see a performance of the show, which has been recently revived on the professional stage at the Bridge Theatre in London.

Emilis, 17, said: “I loved how this show brought everyone in. There weren’t really any scenes where there was just one person on stage.

“We got to play around with ideas and were always learning from each other. My class was really good for constructive criticism and sharing what we could do to improve on our characters and performance.

“Playing Nathan brought me out of my comfort zone. I’ve never really played a character who has to skate around so frantically. He’s quite smart but anxiously trying to stay in control despite the pressures being put on him.

“What I love about acting is the way you get to become a whole different person and get to live life through their eyes. Through the power of drama I get to be who I want. It’s like living hundreds of lifetimes in one.”

Dalia, 16, said: “Miss Adelaide is very ditsy but lovable. She’s very funny, easy to please and very gullible but very strong-minded.

“I did a lot of research into the role, watching past productions and the film, and we went to see the new production. The Miss Adelaide I play was very different to the one I saw on stage who was much more aware of what was going on. I took her energy but not her personality.

“My passion is musical theatre and I hope to go on to do a course at university after college. I love dancing, singing and acting and seeing amazing shows with songs that get stuck in your head. It’s such a buzz.”

Demani, 17, said: “Sky’s quite a smooth operator. He’s cool and not afraid and ready to do what he’s got to do as long as it’s calculated and makes sense.

“At first, I didn’t want to play him as I didn’t really want to sing, but my teacher said go for it. Over the couple of months we were rehearsing I developed my singing and the character to the best of my ability.

“I’ve learnt many different performance skills and theatre styles at college and how to use them to be effective. I’ve learnt how to follow a script, take direction, voice projection and articulate myself better. My teachers are brilliant, I’d be lying if I said they weren’t.”

Performing Arts courses at WestKing cover acting techniques, vocal skills, movement, improvisation, production, text analysis, scriptwriting, singing, rehearsals and auditions.

Sarah Slade, Lecturer in Performing Arts, who directed the production, said: “The show went superbly well, and the students rightly deserved the rapturous applause they received from the elated audience.

“They worked incredibly hard to learn their lines and the songs and develop their characters, and showed real commitment throughout the rehearsals to bring the show to life. I am hugely proud of them, as they should be of themselves.”

Find out more about Performing Arts courses and apply here.

Christian resurrects music talent this Easter after battle with neurological disorder

A Christian singer-songwriter who lost her ability to make music for two years because of a debilitating neurological condition is set to release a new single this Easter.

Through Your Eyes will be the first song released by Seniz Suleyman since she was diagnosed with functional neurological disorder (FND), a condition that affects her physical and mental health.

“It truly and honestly feels incredible to be making music again,” said Seniz, who studied for a Music Production Level 3 Diploma at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) in 2015.

Seniz, 25, who lives with her family in Enfield, achieved a Distinction* at CONEL and went on to graduate with a first-class BA (Hons) Music Production at the BIMM Institute.

She said: “I am wonderfully blessed and grateful to be able to do so and I am very excited to create and share my gift for music freely again, especially with my family and friends who have loved and stood faithfully beside me.”

FND is caused by a problem with the brain and nervous system. Symptoms vary from person to person and include various cognitive, mobility and sensory difficulties, chronic pain, fatigue, panic attacks, insomnia, migraines, anxiety and depression.

“I began walking, talking and thinking in slow motion and my memory was severely impacted and everyday tasks became more difficult. This desperate situation lasted for more than a year and became so unbearable that I even began to question my faith,” said Seniz.

“It was all-consuming. I had no idea what was going on. I genuinely feared that I would not only never be able make music again, but I would also not recover or be well again. I was simply existing.”

Seniz was diagnosed with FND in early 2022 and was told by specialists there was no treatment available for the condition. She was later advised by a nutritionist to change her diet and take natural supplements to improve her mental and physical health.

Seniz also received support from her family, friends and members of Apostolic Christian Church (Sheepfold) in Edmonton, which she has attended for more than 10 years.

“All these things helped me break out from my debilitating mental oppression and fluctuating mood changes and my physical health also began to improve,” she said.

Seniz is set to release Through Your Eyes on Apple Music and Spotify under Seniz Sound and also has plans to release an EP called Grown From Grief, which will feature five tracks she wrote during her studies including her first song at CONEL called I Lean On You.

She previously produced an EP called Are You Ready? in 2019-20, featuring five powerful and rousing songs inspired by her faith, but did not release it until April 2021.

Prior to starting at BIMM Institute aged 17, former CONEL music lecturer Paul Jones helped Seniz get a commission with Sounds of Red Bull, a label under global music publisher BMG Production Music. She has since been asked to produce 10 more songs this year.

Seniz’s music has since featured on programmes and trailers for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, BT Sport, CBS, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, Film4, History, National Geographic and Sky Cinema.

“My teachers at CONEL were very supportive. They gave me lots of encouragement and good feedback,” said Seniz.

“They would sit down with you and suggest changes on how you could improve, so we were able to make our music the best it could be. They really pushed you to do better.”

Seniz’s interest in music began as a child when she would listen to her cousins play Disney songs on the piano who also introduced her to music making software GarageBand.

She taught herself piano while attending Victory in Christ Ministries church in Enfield and had singing lessons in her early teens while studying for GCSE Music.

“I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing. I tried to copy each note by listening to what they were singing and began learning to play by ear,” said Seniz.

“I went on to YouTube and would listen and watch a pianist called Mark Fowler play music from the Transformers movies and Hans Zimmer film scores. I would try and copy him with my tiny keyboard from Toys R Us.”

Seniz has been playing and singing in the worship team at Apostolic Christian Church (Sheepfold) for more than eight years and hopes her music resonates with people of all backgrounds.

“Music has the power to make you feel a certain way but when you combine it with words it can be even more powerful, and when the two collide with visual media it’s like an explosion of inspiration,” she said.

“I want people to know that they can overcome anything, even when it looks like all hope is lost. It’s very important to never stop believing and to share and bless others with your own God-given gifts in any way you can.

“Ultimately, I want to inspire people with music the way it has inspired me.”

Find out more and apply for Music and Music Production courses here.

Former Performing Arts student returns to CANDI to cast aspiring actors in short film

A former Performing Arts student has returned to City and Islington College (CANDI) to cast two current students in a short film he is directing this summer.

Karl Jackson, 30, turned to the college where he studied more than a decade ago, when looking for two female actors for his new film Independence.

The film has been funded by the British Film Institute and tells the story of the challenges faced by Amba, an 18-year-old who has just left the care system.

It follows her as she adapts to being moved out of her area and living alone in a rundown flat with minimal support apart from her best friend Ciara.

Karl, from Walthamstow, has seen first-hand the impact that coming out of care has on young people, through his work for care provider Lignum Vitae Care & Support.

“Preparing young people for living independently is easier said than done as their needs are all very different,” said Karl.

“Depending on where they are housed the standard of care and support can vary, which can have a drastic effect on their future prospects. I wanted to make a film that shed light on some of the shortcomings.”

Karl held an open audition at CANDI in March when he asked students for their suggestions to the script, improvise different scenarios and make an audition tape.

Joanna Rutagambwa, 19, and Mia Campbell-Fiawoo, 20, who are both studying for an HNC Performing Arts, were cast as Amba and Ciara.

Joanna, from Tower Hamlets, said: “When Karl told me I’d been cast I was very excited and accepted it straightaway. We got the script and had a one to-one and he asked me for my opinion and explained what he wanted from it.”

Joanna hopes to bring to the role her personal experience of having to change and grow up quickly when looking after her younger brother when her mum was at work.

“Amba is very quiet and passive. She is trying to hold everything together and does not want to ask for help because she wants to try and do things herself and not burden other people.

“It’s a lot about the silent moments and the way she behaves than what she says. It’s very powerful in the way it cuts through each scene, which gives it sense of realism.”

Karl studied a Performing Arts Level 3 Diploma from 2008-10 and has gone on to appear in roles on stage and screen including Game of Thrones, Casualty and Doctors. In 2019 he directed and starred in a short film called Relapse about a young father who is struggling to rebuild his life after being released from prison.

Karl was impressed with Joanna’s ability to instinctively encapsulate Amba’s emotions through her eyes and stillness, and Mia’s audition really fitted the character of Ciara.

“From my own experience I’ve always been aware of the high standards at CANDI, but to come back over a decade later and see the same enthusiasm, devotion and care was inspiring,” said Karl.

“From the start of the audition process with CANDI the calibre of talent and the attitude of the students was incredible.

Relapse (2019) – A short film by Karl Jackson

Joanna admitted to being quite shy when she first came to CANDI but she is now starting to realise her talent and getting the part of Amba had further boosted her confidence.

“The opportunities created at CANDI are amazing,” she said.

“When you look at people like Karl and see them thrive, not only as a former student but as a person of colour, it gives you hope that there are opportunities out there. It makes me feel there are endless things I can do.”

Tim Chaundy, Curriculum Leader for Performing Arts, said: “It was amazing having Karl back at CANDI and giving opportunities to our students to act at a professional level. The industry experience and skills Karl possesses have been a huge inspiration for our students.

“It’s even more thrilling that Karl decided to audition our students and cast Joanna and Mia in his new film. Both are creative students with innovative ideas and approaches to performance, and have developed excellent acting and theatre skills. This is such a fantastic experience for them.”

Independence is expected to be released later this year.

Apply now for Performing Arts courses.

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