An actress who appeared in dozens of productions by Haverhill’s Centre Stage Company before heading to drama school has landed her breakthrough role in a West End show.
Lauren Chinery served a ten-year apprenticeship with Centre Stage before she upped sticks from Great Yeldham and headed - via a one-year stint at a holiday home in Torbay, Devon - to the Performance Preparation Academy (PPA) in Guildford.
The 22-year-old former Sudbury Upper School student graduated from PPA in July after a three-year course and after a few luckless months with auditions has been handed a role in Gatsby, which is now in the third a seven week run in the Lounge at the Leicester Square Theatre.
The show, billed as a drama with music, is based on F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby and set in a 1925 New York speakeasy, where the jazz era is in full swing.
Lauren plays Myrtle Wilson, who is stuck in a loveless marriage and having an affair with Tom Buchanan, the husband of Daisy Buchanan (played by Prince Harry’s former girlfriend Cressida Bonas), who herself is in love with Jay Gatsby (Ludovic Hughes).
“It gets very tangled,” explained Lauren. “Everyone wants something else and everyone doesn’t really get it and it ends rather tragically.”
Lauren admits to being the ‘baby of the cast’ but adds that the rest of the actors have been nothing but helpful as she takes her first steps in professional musical theatre.
She said: “I was very nervous. I think it’s quite a small cast, there are only eight of us, but it’s just very supportive. Everyone has got each other’s backs and if anything goes wrong you just sort it out.
“I could not be with a nicer, friendlier group of people. ”
“It’s fun and it’s very nice leaving the house, going to do the shows and thinking ‘my goodness, I’m going to work.’
“It’s a funny business. Between graduating in July to the end of October I had barely any auditions for a while.
“I had been going to auditions and not getting anything and suddenly it all changes in a phone call and you are sorted for six months or whatever.
“I’m very grateful, I’m glad, I’m very happy and I’m enjoying it.”
Lauren, who is living in Catford, has another role lined up straight after Gatsby, although she is sworn to secrecy about it for now.
She looks back on her time with the Centre Stage Company with great affection - but also gratitude.
“I learned so much,” she said. “Even just things like etiquette in rehearsals, harmonies, being part of a company, wearing radio microphones.
“I did lots of shows with them. Over ten years or so I did 30 productions of various things and I’m very grateful for how much I learned from doing things there.
“The (Haverhill) arts centre is a really good venue to do things in and you’ve got really good staff and technical facilities.
“I was very very lucky and the Centre Stage is a really good company to do things with.”
Joe Evans, the composer and musical director for Gatsby, which is produced by the Ruby in the Dust Theatre Company, said of Lauren: “She is a wonderfully talented actress and musician. A real asset to the show.”