Emily Gray became Executive Director of MMD in November 2019 and is enjoying meeting members and learning rapidly about the evolving new musical theatre scene. She works 4 days a week for MMD and on her 5th day is pursuing freelance directing and dramaturgy projects, including work with Divya Kasturi Dance and Pursued by a Bear Theatre Company.
Her freelance work in recent years includes developing and directing new musicals Yarico (London Theatre Workshop), In Versions (Umbrella Rooms), A Little Princess (The Other Palace) and she directed a new AI version of Frankenstein, complete with Virtual Reality, for the National Youth Theatre (Southwark Playhouse) in October 2019.
Emily was Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Trestle Theatre Company from 2004-2019, based at Trestle Arts Base in Hertfordshire. In her time at Trestle, a renowned mask and physical theatre company, Emily developed its international reach and established its vibrant community building. Emily produced and directed innovative performance and education programmes including recent tours of Rachel, a Holocaust survivor’s story told through full mask, a half mask version of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde and a schools’ version of Yarico, part of the Royal Opera House Trailblazer programme. She established Trestle’s artist development, teaching and training provision and health and wellbeing programmes.
Prior to Trestle, Emily was Artistic Director of TAG Theatre Company in Glasgow, Associate Director at Unicorn Theatre in London and Associate Director at Nottingham Playhouse and Roundabout TIE. She started her career as an assistant director on West Side Story (UK tour), The Sound of Music (West Yorkshire Playhouse) and she directed the first ever non Nunn/Caird production of Les Miserables, which played in Bermuda in 1998. In her various roles Emily has worked with numerous composers and writers and she is delighted to have found that many of these artists also write musicals and are MMD members.
I’ve been a musical theatre obsessive ever since I was taken to see My Fair Lady, starring Tony Britton, Liz Robertson and Dame Anna Neagle as a teenager. I’d seen classic film musicals on TV but that was my first experience of a big, lavish stage production and I remember being on a high for a long time afterwards. Another formative experience was seeing the original production of Jesus Christ Superstar on tour shortly after it closed in the West End. I went on to the National Youth Theatre, read English at Durham University and continued to do as much acting, singing, dancing and, eventually, directing as I could.
I joined MMD in 2011, following a career change from retail management with Harrods in 2009. It was an exciting time in MMD’s history as we received Arts Council funding for the first time in the spring of 2012 and I’m proud to be part of MMD’s on-going development and the work we do nurturing the craft of new musical theatre writing. In addition to working for MMD, I’m personal assistant to a two-time Olivier Award-winning actress, and a distinguished writer and broadcaster, specialising in opera, classical music and musical theatre. I also assist a classical concert manager with her web content and social media, programming piano and chamber recitals at Wigmore Hall, King’s Place, St John’s Smith Square and Cadogan Hall, among others.
Every day is different but there is also a huge overlap between these different worlds, which makes for an incredibly varied and fun work life. I feel very fortunate to be doing something I absolutely love!
Membership & Communications
Ellen is responsible for Membership and Communications at Mercury Musical Developments (and Musical Theatre Network), joining the team in April 2020. She works across managing both the communications strategy and supporting and developing the membership body for both companies as well as championing new British musical theatre.
Ellen first entered the world of musical theatre when she was type cast as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz in the school concert when she was five, because she had the right hair for it. Now still obsessed with hair, shiny shoes and musicals, she finds herself in a management role rather than an on stage role, having been an amateur performer, lighting and sound technician, and generally bad dancer before finding her place as an independent producer and arts marketer. She prefers to now help support talented artists achieve their goals and dreams, help sell shows, make shows happen and connect artists to people who might be able to help develop their work.
She’s an Aussie – Ellen moved to the UK in 2018 and previously worked as the London Communications and Advocacy Officer for Arts Council England, as well as producing theatre under her company Somewhat Awkward. Her background is in strategic communications and consulting, event management, communications and journalism, and has previously worked in Singapore, Vietnam, France, in government and private sector and across transport infrastructure and planning, higher education, and theatre of all forms.
Don’t be afraid of her Aussie accent or her pink hair, the fact she actually says G’Day all the time, and the jar of Vegemite she keeps nearby at all times.
Sean Gray (Acting Chair)
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