Teaching Faculty

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




Emma first discovered her passion for dancing whilst training at The Wendy Cameron Academy of Dance in her home town of Hastings. During this time she won several cups at competitions around Sussex, including Junior Kent and Sussex Ballet championship.

She also danced for Barnados at Sadlers Wells Theatre and for The Janet Lewis Ballet Company in Sleeping Beauty and Alice in Wonderland at Local Sussex Theatres.

Emma started her Professional Career at the age of 17 with a 3 month contract in Japan. She then went on to have a wonderful career travelling the world working on land and sea with Princess, Carnival, Costa, Regent Seven Seas and MSC Cruise Lines as a dancer, singer and seamstress.

Other credits include La Nouvelle Eve Century show in Paris, Casino Estoril the largest in Europe, Casino Algarve and other casinos and shows around Europe and Asia.

Emma had an amazing experience living her dream and having the chance to perform all over the world dancing in various shows and performing different styles of dance.

Emma has also just recently passed her DDE Imperial Classical Ballet teachers qualification. Hooray!

Working now with the students at Top Hat she is very much looking forward to the next part of her journey and is thrilled to be working with such amazing students.



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) Degree in Composition under the direction of Rhian Samual.

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.

Steve can be heard on several recordings and continues to compose and write his own music. 

Mathias Nyakanyanga

We are thrilled that Mathias returns to us upon his return from Dubai Global village where he has been for the last year performing.


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.



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. 


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, and has also sang in the school proms at The Royal Albert Hall (a moment her Dad is extremely proud of!) 

Along with giving one on one private lessons in performance she has also arranged local showcases to raise money for charities such as Macmillan cancer, Sense and Laurens Gift.

With her passion for performance she is looking forward to bringing 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.



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 troupes performing all over the UK including with the Minstrel Stars (formerly the Black & White Minstrels) and as a backing dancer for an Elvis tribute show! 

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... considering she was born in 1968 .. it's been a while!  

She 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 our British Baton Twirling Sports Association. She has competed in many competitions through her active competitive days and became National Champion in various sections. 


Tracey teaches our Baton twirling classes. Our beginner classes start from 3 years up to Adult.  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.


Evey Mae Donnelly

We are delighted to have Evey join our faculty.

Having studied at Top Hat for 7 years... she kinda knows how we run!

Evey went on to study at Arts 1 where she graduated from the 6th form college obtaining a distinction star level 3 extended diploma in Musical Theatre, where 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. Welcome to the team Evey. x 


Unit 4 Dallington Fields Business Park,

Kingsfield Way, Northampton NN5 7QD

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