A WEST End actor is among those paying tribute to a Warrington musical theatre company as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Long before former Priestley College student Oliver Ormson appeared in The Book of Mormon in London and the tour of The Addams Family he cut his teeth on the likes of Encore Productions’ Bouncers as a youngster.

Oliver said: “Shortly before I joined Encore back in the summer of 2009, I had decided that I wanted to pursue a professional career in theatre.

“Encore not only solidified that decision but also put me in a room with experienced and passionate individuals that I could learn from who allowed me to hone my skills as an actor.

“Even today, I look back fondly at my time in Encore’s production of Bouncers and still maintain that it’s the most fun I’ve ever had on a show.

“I’m so happy to see that Encore has gone from strength to strength and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this fantastic company.”

Encore Productions will be marking its 10th anniversary by presenting In The Heights at Parr Hall, from April 5 to 7.

And in between preparations and rehearsals, they spoke to Weekend about what the milestone means to them.

Encore, whose members have won multiple NODA Awards (the am dram scene’s answer to the Oscars) started with just five people. At the time there were less opportunities for performers in Warrington and their aim was to start a group to offer the kind of material they were interested in.

Tony Avery was 28 at the time and needed somewhere to perform the types of shows that he loved.

Gemma Thorniley, another founding member, then put a message out on Facebook to her contacts – who like her used to be in youth theatre group CODYS – inviting them to attend a meeting.

Not expecting anyone to come, they were amazed when 30 like-minded souls turned up. And so Encore Productions was born.

The first show was Viva Encore at St Thomas’s Church Hall in Stockton Heath which also became their rehearsal space.

It was an instant success and the group were encouraged to continue and produce concerts, musicals and plays including Blood Brothers, Bouncers, The Full Monty, Bad Girls, Rent, Goodnight Mister Tom, Godspell, Rock of Ages and Into The Woods.

Nick Cupit is one of the founding members and the current chairman. He also co-founded CODYS.

He added: “In the 10 years since its inception, Encore Productions have given the opportunity for performers to enjoy performing as part of what has recently become an award-winning company.

“Two of our former members have gone on to star in West End productions – Benjamin Cupit appeared in YANK at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester, and Charring Cross Theatre, London and Oliver Ormson appeared in Book Of Mormon, London and in the UK tour of Addams Family.”

Now the group has around 50 members who perform two musicals and one play a year.

Gemma Thorniley, a former Bridgewater High student, said: “My highlight was taking Blood Brothers to the Brindley after it was such a huge success at the Pyramid.

“Mrs Lyons was an incredibly demanding role but definitely one of my favourites. Now I can’t wait to play Camila in In The Heights. I saw the play two years ago in the West End and have loved it since.”

Encore shows cost in the region of £17,000 to bring to the stage and so they rely heavily on promoting their productions to a wide audience in order to sell tickets.

For their next show, In The Heights, they borrowed an idea made famous by James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke and released two three-minute films which have been uploaded to their Facebook page and have been viewed nearly 8,000 times.

The story, which became a word-of-mouth sensation during its initial Broadway run in 2008, explores three days in a Latino neighbourhood in New York City.

  • In The Heights is at the Parr Hall from April 5 to 7 with performances at 7.30pm each night and 2.30pm on Saturday. Visit pyramidparrhall.com or call 442345.