Biography

Sophie was born in London in 1961. Her formal education at schools in Watford until 1978 was both happy and successful and was a time when she formed friendships which were to remain strong and affectionate throughout her life.

 

1978-81

Sophie’s training for the theatre was at the London centre of The Arts Educational School in Golden Square in the Barbican.


1980

Her first professional engagement - a summer season production of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ at Fort Regent, St Helier, Jersey.


1981 

Her graduation performance - the lead in the Neil Simon/Cy Coleman musical ‘Sweet Charity’. The Director was Roger Haines and the Musical Director Stephen Hill - two people Sophie was to work with later in her career. 

August/September - The Bachelors Show at The White Rock Pavillion,Hastings. Sophie’s first pantomime - ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at The Arts Theatre, Cambridge. An equally young Sally- Ann Triplett headed the cast.


1982-83

Sophie toured the UK in Bill Kenwright’s production of ‘ Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat firstly as a member of the company and later as the Narrator.


1984

Sophie joined the company at Manchester Library Theatre for a busy season of plays and musicals throughout January to May.

Meg in the European professional premier of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ directed by Howard Lloyd Lewis.

Madam in ’ Little Brother, Little Sister’ by David Campton. It is interesting to note that in the premier of this play in 1961 the part of the Cook was played by a young Alan Ayckbourn! 

Zelda in ’Jack the Lad’, a play with music by David Wood, Toni Arthur and David Scase directed by Roger Haines. 


  Sophie with Paul Aylett in Papertown Paperchase

Go To Hell Kitty in the Bob Fosse, Fred Ebb, John Kander musical ‘Chicago’ directed by Paul Kerryson. A young Michael French was also in the cast. 

From September to December Sophie joined the Whirligig Theatre Company to play ‘Tissue’ in David Wood’s ‘Papertown Paperchase. The national tour included a short season at London’s Sadlers Wells Theatre. The play and the production were enthusiastically received by audiences and the press wherever they went. 

The year ended at Haddon Hall, Derbyshire for the film ‘Lady Jane’


1985

Sophie joined the Chichester Festival Theatre Company for the first time to appear as Ada and Rose Darling in Noel Coward’s ‘ Cavalcade’ directed by David Gilmore. The cast also included Joanna McCallum, Maria Friedman, Robert Demeger, Simon Green, Alex Jennings and Michael Simkins. The Musical Director was Colin Sell.

Sophie moved to London to work again with Colin Sell at the Soho Poly in ‘March of the Falsettos’ - a rarely performed American musical by William Finn.

Sophie then rejoined the Chichester Festival Theatre company for ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ an adaptation by Beverley Cross of the Baroness Orczy novel directed by Nicholas Hytner. The cast, headed by Donald Sinden also included Joanna McCallum, Gaynor Sinclair, Desmond Barrit, Alex Jennings, Charles Kay and Michael Simkins. The production toured throughout the UK before coming to Her Majesty’s Theatre in London for a run which went on until Spring 1986.


1986

Sophie appeared as ‘The Sister’ in Bertold Brecht’s ‘A Respectable Wedding’. The production, cast from members of ‘ The Scarlet Pimpernel’ Company was presented by the Chichester Festival Theatre and The Little Theatre of Comedy Trust. Ray Cooney put on a charity performance at The Ambassadors Theatre and this was followed by a short season in March at The King’s Head in Islington.

Television played only a small part in Sophie’s career but she was particularly proud of the opportunity to work with Julia McKenzie, someone she much admired, as a ‘special guest’ in ’Julia and Company’ a Thames TV production which also starred Anton Rogers and Millicent Martin. The production was recorded in June and transmitted in September. 

In October Sophie went to the Phoenix Arts Theatre, Leicester to appear in Beth Harley’s play ’Crimes of the Heart’ directed by Warren Hooper. Her role of Babe in this highly charged drama was a turning point for Sophie, giving her, for the first time, a notion of what she could do given the right part and the right director. The cast also included Angela Down, Stephanie Fayerman, Penny Leatherbarrow, Geoffrey Church and Patrick Brennan.



Sophie with Angela Down in
'Crimes of the Heart'

 

1987

The year marked Sophie’s first visit to The Nottingham Playhouse to appear in ’Godspell’, the musical by Stephen Schwartz. The production, directed by Richard Frost, later transferred to The Churchill Theatre, Bromley. ‘Cinderella’ - the Christmas pantomime, again at The Nottingham Playhouse followed. Written and directed by Kenneth Alan Taylor, it was choreographed by Sheila Carter who Sophie was to work with again when she joined the Stephen Joseph Theatre Company.


1988

The year began with a concert performance of the Jerry Herman/Michael Stewart musical ’Mack and Mabel’ in aid of the Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Fund at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The live recording was later released as an LP.

Another pivotal role for Sophie quickly followed - Sybil in Noel Coward’s ’Private Lives’ She was directed once more by Warren Hooper, with Michelle Newell, Richard Heffer and John Flanagan also in the cast. The production was firstly at the Tyne Theatre, Newcastle and then at The Bristol Old Vic.

Sophie then returned to the Nottingham Playhouse for an extended season firstly for Keith Dewhirst’s adaptation of Flora Thompson’s novel ’Lark Rise to Candleford’ directed by Richard Frost then for the role of Alice in her second Nottingham pantomime, ’Dick Whittington’, written by Kenneth Alan Taylor and directed by Richard Frost with Susie McKenna once again the principal boy.


1989

Sophie’s engagement at the Nottingham Playhouse continued with the role of Teresa Philips in Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘How The Other half Loves’ - directed by Richard Frost, then Sheila Birling in J B Priestley’s ’An Inspector Calls’ directed by Kenneth Alan Taylor and finally Petra in Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Ibsen’s ’An Enemy of the People’. The production was directed by Caroline Smith.


1990

Sophie’s work with the director Richard Frost continued with the role of Jean Rice in John Osborne’s ’The Entertainer’ at the Redgrave Theatre, Farnham. The strong cast was headed by James Bolam and the late James Cossins.

Sophie’s last production at the Nottingham Playhouse was Ken Hill’s fantasy play ’ The Curse of the Werewolf’ directed by Kenneth Alan Taylor. Later in the year Sophie joined the London cast of ’Les Miserables’.


1992 - 95

After leaving 'Les Miserables' Sophie successfully auditioned for Alan Ayckbourn and once her Christmas pantomime ’ Dick Whittington’ at the Connaught Theatre Worthing was over she joined the Stephen Joseph Theatre company in Scarborough. 

1993

Sophie began her first Scarborough season with Tom Elliot’s ’Feed’. The production was directed by James Tomlinson with Malcolm Hebden and Lesley Nicol also in the cast. This was followed by three short, but very contrasting Studio productions. 'Tomfoolery’ with music and lyrics by Tom Lehrer came first. Directed by Malcolm Hebden the cast also included Paul Bazely, Gordon Kane and Lesley Nicol. ’Bye Bye Blues’ directed by Connal Orton followed. This witty provocative play by James Saunders included Charlotte Jones, now more famous for her plays ’In Flame and ‘Humble Boy in the cast as well as actors from the Studio Company. The final play in the trio performed by Sophie and the resident company was Anthony Mingella’s ‘Cigarettes and Chocolates’ directed once again by Connal Orton. 

Sophie’s final play for the 1993 season was ‘Love off the Shelf’ an hilarious play with music by Roger Hall and Philip Norman directed by Alan Ayckbourn. Sophie joined a cast which also included Sara Markland, Diana Morrison, Simon Day and Gordon Kaye. 

The year ended with Sophie’s last pantomime. This was once again the role of Alice in ‘ Dick Whittington’ at Eastbourne.

 


Feed with Malcolm hebden


Tomfoolery - The full Company

1994

Sophie returned to the Stephen Joseph Theatre to rehearse for ‘Two Weeks With The Queen’ a play adapted by Mary Morris from a novel by Morris Gleitzman and with music by John Pattison. Directed by Alan Ayckbourn this was a co - production with the Royal National Theatre. Following its successful season in Scarborough it was seen at the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness before opening at The Cottesloe Theatre for an extended season. Although written for a young audience its success with adults was in part due to the highly inventive direction and the cast’s gifts for comedy. Sophie in her multiple roles of Mum/Aunt Iris and Bag-lady was aided and abetted by Dorothy Atkinson, Philip Bird, Peter Forbes, Sean McKenzie, and Tamblyn Lord. The Musical Director was Simon Cryer.


Love off the Shelf - Sophie,Diana Morrison, 
Sara Markland & Gina Cameron 

 

1995

 


Opened with Sophie still at the Royal National Theatre. Once that production ended she returned to Scarborough for her final play, the premier of Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘ A Word from Our Sponsor’. John Pattison once more wrote the music. Directed by Alan Ayckbourn the cast included Kate Arneil, Alison Burrows, Prue Clarke, Eileen Page, Peter Forbes, Graham Kent, Dale Rapley and Christopher Webber. The Assistant Musical Director was Simon Cryer and the Choreographer was Sheila Carter both of whom were long standing colleagues. Once the season was over the production was to transfer to the Chichester Festival.

For Sophie this was not to be. She died on June 4th just before the final performance at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.


Two Weeks with the Queen - RNT

 

 Sophie & Alan Ayckbourn  

The full company of 'A Word from our Sponsor'

'A Word from our Sponsor'