Interview with Stephen Leslie – Director of Ellie & Starlight

This week we caught up with Stephen Leslie, director of Ellie & Starlight the Musical.

Can you tell us how you came to first direct?

Having worked as an actor for eight years, it was an obvious transition to move into directing so initially I volunteered at Youth Action Theatre in Teddington and the Riverside Youth Theatre in Sunbury, where I was able to direct large-cast productions with young people aged 12 and up.

I enjoyed directing and felt I wanted to develop this skill further so applied for an internship at TheatreWorks in Hartford, C.T, where I worked with Broadway director Rob Ruggiero on a production of The Lonesome West with a small cast including Hollywood actress Susan Pourfar.

When returning to the UK, I continued to work with local Youth Theatre, before taking on Alan Ayckbourn’s Confusions at the Baron’s Court Theatre in West London and working with StopWatch theatre company, directing various touring shows. 

I then directed several corporate projects, including live events and video shoots, before forming Dramacube where I’ve produced and directed numerous productions with our Youth Company including; Annie Jr., Elf the Musical Jr., Peter Pan Jr. and Alice in Wonderland Jr.

What inspired you to direct Ellie and Starlight the Musical?

The subject matter is very close to my heart and I could see the potential to match two areas I feel passionate about, the environment and musical theatre.

I felt the story would make a lovely children’s show, and having worked on some excellent children’s theatre as an actor, I had an idea in my mind of what the show should be. 

Have you been involved in writing the show?

Indirectly yes! I contacted playwright Ken Mason and asked if he would be willing to have a go at adapting the story for the stage.  Ken read Ellie & Starlight and was keen to get involved so I then spoke with composer William Morris, who I’d worked with in 2015 on Fame Jr.  William was equally keen so I arranged a meeting between the two of them, plus Sarah Watson who wrote the original story and the creative process began!

What have you enjoyed the most about developing the script?

This has been a completely new experience for me and I’ve loved every minute! Watching a team of brilliant creative people work their magic and seeing the script and score take shape has been truly inspiring. 

I recently spent a day working with Ken and William, and was amazed at their ability to create something so special based on a short discussion or suggestion.  The script and music is exactly what I’d hoped for and I really can’t wait to see the show.

What are your hopes for Ellie & Starlight beyond the run at Hampton Hill Theatre?

Ellie & Starlight is a really important show because it shares a message we all need to be reminded of.  We must start to take care of our planet and stop being so excessive in our life-styles.  I’d love to see the show tour the UK, reaching thousands of children, and potentially tour oversees. 

We’d like to thank Stephen for this time and wish his every success with Ellie & Starlight the Musical.