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West End breakthrough role for former Sudbury school pupil

Lauren Chinery, left, in a scene from Gatsby, at the Leicester Square Theatre. Picture: Nobby Clark/ArenaPAL ; ANL-160912-114534001
Lauren Chinery, left, in a scene from Gatsby, at the Leicester Square Theatre. Picture: Nobby Clark/ArenaPAL ; ANL-160912-114534001

An actress from Great Yeldham 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. 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.

Leo Cox, head or performance at Ormiston Sudbury Academy (previously Sudbury Upper School), said: “Lauren was an absolute asset to performing arts. She is an extremely talented young lady who took the lead roles in many of our productions - Rizzo in Grease, Sharpay in High School Musical, Chiffon the Ronette in Little Shop of Horrors to name just a few.

“We always knew that she would succeed as a professional performer and are absolutely delighted to hear of her current success. We are extremely proud of what she has achieved so far and look forward to seeing what she will achieve in the future.

Her success will also motivate so many of our current students to continue striving for a career in this highly competitive industry and adds to the large number of our alumni who are currently performing professionally or training at some of the best drama schools in the country.”

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