Stage One Youth Theatre director, Jacqui Ivemy, to retire after 40 years with the company

A WOMAN who has dedicated 40 years to a Portsmouth youth theatre group is set to retire and take a step back from her career.

By Hollie Busby
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 11:01 pm

Jacqui Ivemy, from Drayton, first joined the Portsmouth theatre company in the 70s when it was called Solent Theatre Company after moving to the city from Maidenhead.

Then, it was primarily a musical theatre company for adults called Solent Theatre Company.

A few years after Jacqui had joined, the group branched out and started up a junior group which was named ‘Stage One’, which is now based on Mayfield Road, Portsmouth.

Jacqui Ivemy, musical director at Stage One Youth Theatre Group.

Jacqui’s young daughter at the time, had just joined to be in the theatre’s production of Wizard of Oz and she began to help out with the production backstage and a she soon found herself keen to get hands on herself, taking on the more senior role in 1988 as director.

Throughout her career as musical director from the 80s, Jacqui has directed numerous shows including We Will Rock You, Cats, Oliver!, West Side Story and many more.

Jacqui echoes that now, 40 years on, it is time for her to retire so ‘new blood and new recruitment’ can have their time to shine.

She said: ‘I think at the end of the day, times have moved on. I've been there nearly 40 years and I think it's time for new blood and for new recruitment and for new ideas to come forward so that the company can thrive in the future.’

Jacqui Ivemy.

Jacqui’s time with the company has been so special in so many ways that to choose an overall favourite production was difficult.

She said: ‘Every show has been special in on way or another. The young people that are in it and the friendships that they make. But I think the most special one for me was probably Cats which we did about four years ago and that was very special.

‘The music was lovely. All the company was absolutely brilliant. The costumes, everything went down really well.

‘It was so popular as well.’

According to Stage One’s stage manager, Stephen Clark, Jacqui has been a real credit to the company, moving from the confines of performing from church halls to filling auditoriums in popular Portsmouth venues.

He said: ‘We started very small in church halls doing small productions. Jacqui's brought it along where we're doing full musical theatre shows in professional theatres with all the technical support that goes with that.

‘It was a real shock as you always kind of know that day will come. But you never want it to be now.

‘There's a real sadness that she's departing, she is fantastic. I'm sure she'll still keep tabs on what we're doing but both her children who are now adults were involved in the company.’

Through Stage One, Jacqui has coached and inspired so many young performers, with some even going on to appear in West End shows.

‘It's always a challenge, but I think also, when you work hard with a company member and you're guiding them and coaching them, when they actually come through with the characters or the songs or the dances they're supposed to do, that's the most wonderful feeling and you think, "Yes! All that hard work has been worth it!"

One of Stage One’s successful alumni include James Charlton, who played the part of Enjolras in les Miserables at the West End from 2011 to 2013.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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