Girl’s stage debut just first step to stardom

�With the same name as one of the largest family theatrical groups in the business, a Dagenham teenager is getting set to take to the boards in her first venture onto a professional stage.

Rikki Nolan, 14, of Heathway, Dagenham, won a part in Lighting Up the Lane, a community musical at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, written specifically for the theatre’s 70-year celebrations.


The production is set in Hornchurch in 1953, as war-torn Britain was trying to get back on its feet, black and white turned to colour and The Queen’s Theatre was born.

A multi-song show, Lighting Up the Lane tells the story of an enthusiastic gang of youngsters including lead protagonist Sam, who grow up in the days of the Second World War and looks at how Hornchurch became the first council in the country to launch a producing theatre by converting a cinema in Station Lane.

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“I play one of the young gang,” said Rikki, who is one of 60 cast members.

“We appear at the beginning, telling the story of a gang of children who play in a disused building.

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“Then we all grow up into teenagers and it’s very clever the way older actors are changed for us.”

Though no relation to the famous Nolan family, Rikki has her eyes sharply focused on building a career on the stage.

“I start my GCSEs this year, but acting is so much fun, I really want to concentrate on drama and be a good actress,” she said.

Lighting Up The Lane is written by Dave Ross, Gerry Sweeney and theatre education manager, Patrick O’Sullivan, who also directs.

Queen’s will also celebrate its 70-year anniversary by hosting an exhibition about the theatre, running until July 22 in the foyer.

This interactive audiovisual feast features photos of the old building – today’s purpose-built site on Billet Lane was opened in 1975 – as well as stories and memories from actors and creative staff who worked in Station Lane, as well as audiences who remember watching shows there.

There will also be a collection of props and costumes for children to dress up in and play with.

The community musical and exhibition are supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.


The Theatre will also be giving away a certain amount of tickets to community groups across Havering.

Any community organisations who would like to watch the show should call 01708 443333.

The show runs for five performances starting at 7.30pm from today (Wednesday) until Saturday with a matinee performance.

Tickets at �12.50 are available from the box office on 01708 443333 or online at

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