Actor

Michelle trained for the theatre at the Rose Bruford College in the late sixties followed by a year at Marcel Marceau’s L’École Internationale de Mime in Paris.

She spent seventeen years working with wonderful directors and MD’s, (Equity name, Mikki Magorian) as well as performing solo. For the first two years, she was in three touring companies and played over twenty roles from the blind and deaf Helen Keller to Holey Moley (a hippy mole). 

During the following fifteen years she was in musicals, plays and Christmas shows. 

Musicals included My Fair Lady, Italian Straw Hat, Anything Goes, Cowardy Custard, The Boyfriend, The Roar of the Greasepaint -The Smell of the Crowd, The Wizard of Oz, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cabaret, John, Paul, George Ringo and Bert, Salad Days and His Monkey Wife. 

Comedies included six Alan Ayckbourn plays, three Feydeau Farces, Rookery Nook and Now Here’s a Funny Thing. Dramas included The Miracle Worker, Lorna Doone, Kennedy’s Children, Gaslight, Major Barbara, Pygmalion, A Collier’s Friday Night, Faust, Danton’s Death and Death and the Devil. 

At Christmas time she appeared in shows for children e.g. A Christmas Carol, Aladdin, The Wombles, Paddington Bear, (and yes, she played him) and Humpty Dumpty (him as well).

She has also made the odd appearance on television, for example Cicely Courtneidge in Lillie (London Weekend Television).  

She has a postgraduate Certificate in Film Studies (BFI/London University), an Honorary Doctorate (Portsmouth University) and has been made a Fellow of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance.

‘Play as cast’ were the words written on a long term acting contract with a repertory theatre company. I was not only fortunate enough to have been offered these contracts but my work was mostly in theatres that were three and a half weekly rep.

For six days a week these companies would have three weeks to rehearse a new play or musical followed by the technical and dress rehearsals, while giving six evening performances and two matinees of the preceding production. Each month we would be given the cast list for the following play/musical and would be expected to play whatever was thrown at us. Occasionally I was cast as more than one character in the same piece.

The photographs I have chosen in the gallery below show the wide range of people I played in my late twenties when I was expected to step out of the shoes of a young Nottingham woman in A Collier’s Friday Night and into the shoes of a middle-aged cockney in My Fair Lady, a flamboyant French milliner in Italian Straw Hat and a tramp in Shaw’s Major Barbara etc.

My fellow performers and I fitted meals, laundry and learning lines around our packed six-day and six-night week.

The older performers had worked in the world of weekly and fortnightly rep and this led me to write Cuckoo In the Nest, A Spoonful of Jam and Impossible! The first two are set in the winter and summer of 1947, the new one in 1959.

My thanks go to the wonderful photographers – Nicholas Toyne, Bryan J. Douglas F.R.P.S. Willoughby Gullachsen and Tom Busby. One photographer didn’t write his or her name at the back of their photographs so I was unable to trace him or her. Whoever you are – additional thanks.

Michelle Magorian plays a "down and out" in Mayor Barbara by George Bernard Shaw