IT’S THE end of an era for Stone’s Rooftop Studios performing arts school as principal Elaine Bird takes a step back and daughter Laura Keeling takes the helm.
Elaine, who originally established the studio as GEMS Youth Theatre with her friend Sara Christie back in 1990, has helped thousands of youngsters to reach their full potential in acting, dance and drama over the past 25 years.
She has also developed Rooftop Studios into a renowned performing arts school that has seen numerous alumni go onto drama school and careers on the stage.
Among them were Elaine’s own children Mia, Laura and Jorden, who all went on to forge strong careers in the industry. Mia and Laura between them established the Pop School and Stage Academy (PSSA) in London in 2003, which later launched its first Midlands branch at Rooftop Studios, later adding Saturday PSSA classes to the studio’s already packed timetable of stagecraft dance and drama classes.
Laura also studied for three years at the Arts Educational School in Chiswick and signed with a top London acting agent before signing a three-year deal with Mercury Records in the girl band KickAngel.
“This has not been a decision I have taken lightly as I love the studio and it has been much more than a business to me,” said Elaine.
“It must be the most gratifying thing anyone can do to witness students growing in confidence through workshops, storytelling, the fantastic performances they give, and through examinations where they attain proof of how well they are doing.
“However, sometimes everything seems to be right for change – and one of those times is now. I am ready to take a step back and, while I will remain principal of the school, I feel that Laura is the perfect person to take the studio forward. She has the experience, drive and enthusiasm to take the school to the next level and she is already making some really positive changes. I’m now looking forward to spending more time on the golf course and with my grandchildren, while still getting to enjoy the buzz of the fantastic shows our talented students put on.”
And Laura has already been busy developing the studios’ offering – having recently launched Stone Youth Theatre and recruited an exceptionally talented cast of students from Stone, Stafford and Stoke ahead of its first performance in 2015.
“While it’s sad that mum won’t be working alongside me as closely as before, it’s brilliant to know that she’ll still be there to support me - her experience is invaluable,” said Laura.
“I’m really excited to be taking on the management of the studio and we’ve got lots of exciting plans for the future – we’ve got a brilliant, professional team of teachers and we want to make the studio an even more dynamic place to train.”
For more information on all the classes at Rooftop Studios including performing arts, ballet, street jazz, drama, modern, tap and PSSA, visit www.rooftopstudios.co.uk or call 08000 827828.