JULIE MCKENNA (School Principal)
Julie trained at the prestigious Laine Theatre Arts, in Epsom, Surrey alongside Victoria Beckham!
She has performed in several West End shows including Grease, Footloose, Boogie Nights with Shane Ritchie, Starlight Express, Happy Days (directed by Henry Winkler "The Fonz" ) and The Graduate with Jerry Hall.
Julie’s film and TV credits include Victoria and Albert with Dame Diana Rigg, Penelope Wilton and Peter Ustinov, Down To Earth, Blue Peter, Take That backing dancer at The Brits, The Bill, and a backing dancer for The X Factor.
For the last 20 years Julie has had regular teaching posts at Performing Arts Colleges in and around London including Bird College.
She also travels the UK giving lectures and workshops in all aspects of performance technique.
Julie still works extensively as a session singer and performs at events all over the world with live corporate party bands.
Her biggest achievement to date, (apart from her two children obviously) is the building of Top Hat Theatre School to what it is today.
Watch Julie Performing
Miss Jayne is an ISTD Fellow, a National Examiner and on the National faculty at the ISTD Committee. She is also an adjudicator for the British and International Federation of Music and Dance Festivals.
Jayne is the owner of her own very well established and thriving dance school, Pirouette Academy of Dance in Leicestershire. She has celebrated over 30 years of success as Principal there with many successful students now performing all over the world and in London's West End.
Jayne was in the original London Cast of Annie at the Victoria Palace Theatre at 12 years old playing the part of Kate alongside Shelia Hancock as Miss Hannigan. After this she went on to perform in many pantomimes and professional shows.
Jayne is a registered tutor with the I.S.T.D. tutoring students for the Diploma in Dance Edcuation and is the regional representative for the I.S.T.D, East midlands area.
We are honoured to have Steve join us on the team here at Top Hat.
Steve graduated from Reading University in 1995 with a BA(Hons)
Since his graduation Steve has worked predominantly in Pop Music, most notably as Musical Director and Keyboard player for Lisa Stansfield and other artists such as Gareth Gates, Shania Twain, and currently on tour with Kerry Ellis.
Steve is often in the pits in London's West End as MD and Keyboard player. Credits include School of Rock, Miss Saigon, Saturday Night Fever, Evita, The Wedding Singer, We Will Rock You, Blood Brothers, Whistle Down The Wind, Scrooge, Starlight Express, Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, Priscilla, Cabaret, Les Miserables and Cats.
Kelly fell in love with theatre age 7, whilst watching Doris Day in Calamity Jane!
After beginning her training under the watchful eye of Anne-Marie Thomas (principal of MTA London) she was set on a career in musical theatre.
Although her training was cut short to chase a new dream of being a mum! The love and passion for theatre and performance remains.
She has performed in shows such as A Man Of No Importance, Fiddler On The Roof, The Sound Of Music, Oliver, Heloise. She also sang in the school proms at The Royal Albert Hall (a moment her Dad is extremely proud of!)
With her passion for performance Kelly brings out the children's inner confidence to help make them the best performers they can be!
Kelly is also the main agent for McKenna Management children's acting agency.
Fran is an excellent addition to our faculty with a fantastic teaching and West End performing background.
Fran trained at the prestigious Italia Conti Theatre School in London.
She has performed in several West End and touring shows such as Starlight Express, Sunset Boulevard, Shout, Oh What a Night, Hot Flush, Peggy Sue Got Married And Always.
She has choreographed many productions at The Royal Albert hall with Kim Gavin (Take That’s choreographer!!) and several touring productions.
She has also been Dance Captain on most of her contracts.
She is ISTD AND LAMDA trained, with fantastic results history.
Soeli joins us from the West End, having performed in several shows including: Wicked (Victoria Apollo); Dance Captain and understudied Martha Cox in High School Musical 2 (UK Tour); Dance Captain and understudied Sharpay in High School Musical (UK Tour); Swing and understudied Urleen & Wendy-Jo in Footloose (Playhouse Theatre); Swing in Footloose (UK Tour); Cha-Cha in Grease (UK Tour); Swing and understudied Lisa in Mamma Mia! (International Tour); understudied Fairy & Cinderella in Cinderella (Manchester); Ensemble in Evita (Beirut); Ensemble in Barnum (Eastbourne); Take Off & Razzle Dazzle in Fosse (European & Japanese Tour).
We are very proud to have Soeli part of our teaching staff.
Mathias has being dancing since the age of 15.
He has trained briefly in Tap, Jazz, Ballet and Contemporary, at Northampton’s Booth Lane College, but specialises in Hip-Hop and commercial, in which he mainly trained in as part of several different companies including; ZKMO, Cartel Company and Trilogy Dance.
Mathias is actively auditioning, working and teaching.
He performed at the Olympic Park, performing in front of 37,000 people at the Women’s FA Cup Final, performing in front of over 100,000 people at Dubai’s Global Village on a 6 month contract and appearing on adverts and professionals dance videos. He has also taught all over the country and worked with both kids and adults on stage pieces.
Mathias’ future goal is to become a world-renowned choreographer and own his own school and/or dance company.
He is constantly working and training relentlessly to one day achieve this.
EVEY MAE DONNELLY
Evey studied at Top Hat for 7 years, before continuing her studies at Arts 1 in Milton Keynes, where she graduated from the 6th form college obtaining a distinction star level 3 extended diploma in Musical Theatre. It was her that she found her love for teaching and choreography.
Evey also successfully auditioned for Bird, Millenium and AMTA, receiving scholarship offers.... but decided upon staying here in Northampton where she is now studying for her DDE qualifications, in order to further her career in teaching ISTD dance.
She has taught at several other schools in and around the county, but glad to be settling her roots here at Top Hat!
She has performed at The Royal Albert Hall, performed in "Pitch Battle" for BBC1, and has performed at Move It at Excel in 2016 and 2017.
Poppy trained at Pirouette Academy of Dance in Leicester, before continuing her training at Laine Theatre Arts where she graduated in 2019.
Upon leaving Laine, Poppy was invited to be part of the Stephen Mear pre- show workshop for Funny Girl, before performing in the 2019 Thursford Christmas Spectacular. She is currently active in the industry and we are very lucky to have her join us.
As a younger student, Poppy was a successful member of the competition group, flourishing at festivals and gaining respect and recognition from both peers and adjudicators for her dedication and performance.
Alongside festivals, Poppy was also successful as many external events, such as Scotland Summer School, Can You Dance and ISTD National, Ballet and Modern Awards International events.
Poppy excelled in examinations and holds advanced Examinations from the ISTD in Ballet, Modern, Tap, National and Greek. She has been successful in completing DDI qualifications in Ballet, Tap, Modern and National and her practical element of DDE qualifications for ballet and national for which she is continuing her training to gain her overall DDE qualifications
Emily began dancing at the age of 6, training in various disciplines and gaining her first teaching qualification aged 18.
She has performed in many productions in and around London including at the Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre. Emily also danced professionally in various contracts performing all over the UK.
In addition to performing and teaching, Emily has choreographed for many productions as well as choreographing numerous winning routines for local and national festivals. She loves being part of the Top Hat family and helping nurture the next generation to share her passion.
Tracey has been twirling from the age of seven, and has been part of Top Hat Theatre School from the beginning and loves being part of the Top Hat family.
She has been a professional teacher from the mid 1980's and is also a National Judge and Clinician for the BBTSA.
She has competed in many competitions through her active competitive career, and became National Champion in various sections.
Tracey teaches our Baton twirling classes where we encompass a wide range of events within Baton Twirling.
All athletes that are part of the twirling classes are great friends and work as part of a team. We have several competitions annually and the athletes love to be part of this.
We involve all the athletes at any level for competitions and encourage the athletes to build their confidence.