Theatre on cue for youngsters

Julia Collar and sister Ellie.
Julia Collar and sister Ellie.

A mum from Flitwick who launched a theatre company to help young people is now on the cutting edge of new theatre with two productions hitting the stage.

Julia Collar formed Collar & Cuffs Co in January and has since arranged two original productions - Britpop musical The Girl From Mars and children’s multi-sensory theatre show, Little Meerkat’s Big Panic, adapted from a storybook by Jane Evans.

A former consultant youth worker specialising in young people with complex emotional and behavioural issues, Julia has always used drama and music in her work as an aid.

She stopped working in 2012 when, after complications in her pregnancy, she gave birth to twin sons but is now carving out a new career and spent time working semi-professinally as a singer and producer.

Julia wrote the Britpop musical The Girl From Mars, about growing up gay, and the show is a hybrid of musical meets rock concert.

She has secured almost £4,000 of funding from Arts Council England to support the show’s development, enabling her to premiere the show at the Brighton Fringe Festival in June and then to book a five-date tour between September and November, now booking into 2017. The tour kicks off in Northampton on September 9, before heading on to Milton Keynes on September 25.

Saffron from original 90s Britpop act Republica has become a huge supporter of the project and provided a surprise encore at the show’s opening night in Brighton.

Working with her sister Ellie, a special educational needs consultant, Julia successfully pitched to MK SOUP – a bi-monthly micro crowdfunding event – and won £450 of funding to adapt Little Meerkat’s Big Panic for the stage in a not-for-profit production.

The multi-sensory musical show is previewing locally this month with the author in attendance, before becoming available to pre-schools, nurseries, primary schools and other settings around the UK.

Julia has also won a place on the Entrepreneurial Spark programme in Milton Keynes, which will provide her with free office space and business mentoring for six months.