Sophie Montgomery, a year 13 student at Richmond Sixth Form College, has won the prestigious National Operatics and Dramatics Association’s (NODA) youth award for the North of England region. Sophie accepted the accolade at a glittering ceremony hosted at the Gosforth Park Brittania Hotel.
Sophie won the award for her exceptional interpretation of ‘Eliza Doolittle’, the lead role in Richmond Operatic Society’s (ROS) 2018 production of ‘My Fair Lady’. This was Sophie’s first performance with the society and, unbeknown to Sophie, a judge from NODA was in the audience and nominated her for the award.
As he revealed the winner, Gordon Richardson, NODA councillor and judge commented, “Eliza Doolittle, in My Fair Lady, is a demanding role, even for an adult. The person pulled it off with style. My winner is a role that demands a person to master the vocals required to do it justice, as well as transform their characterisation throughout the production.” He went on to say, “There was only going to be one winner when I saw that performance.”
Prior to ‘My Fair Lady’, Sophie had already made her mark on the performing arts’ arena in Richmondshire. Only six months before her award-winning role as Eliza she captivated sell-out audiences, taking the lead role as the narrator in Richmond School’s run of ‘Joseph And His Technicolour Dreamcoat. She is studying A-levels in Music, Drama and English Literature and is highly regarded for her commitment to the School’s performing arts events. In addition to her incredible vocal ability, Sophie also plays the viol, guitar and piano. Ian Henderson, head of Creative Arts at Richmond School and Sixth Form College, said: “We are really proud of Sophie’s achievement. We have enjoyed watching Sophie develop from a young year 7 to an extremely talented and confident Sixth Form student, and it is testament to her drive and determination to succeed within her chosen field. She is an extremely versatile performer and works across a number of genres within the Creative Arts.”
Singing is Sophie’s passion. She has recently joined the Scottish Opera Youth Chorus in Glasgow and hopes to secure a place at the renowned Scottish Conservatoire in Glasgow, to further her studies, as her aim is to become an opera singer. She will complete her A-levels next year, before taking a gap year to gain further performance experience with ROS, as well as singing at weddings. Sophie is a valued member of Marske Choir, under the direction of Lindsay Ibbotson, who is also Sophie’s vocal coach and has seen her blossom over the last six years. Lindsay says: “When Sophie first came for singing lessons at the age of 11, she was quick to join our choir, and so had early experience of harmony singing in a wide variety of music, from pop to opera. By the age of 13 she was already showing potential as a soloist, but is always happy to ‘muck in’ with anything. Joining ROS has given her the chance to ‘spread her wings’, and this is fantastic news.”
Sophie is already rehearsing for ROS’ Christmas production, ‘The Nativity Saga’, and will follow this up with ‘Sister Act in the New Year. Rhoda Fraser, NODA representative for ROS commented, “ROS are always pleased to welcome “new blood” to the Society, and when Sophie auditioned for My Fair Lady, they saw a star in the making. Through rehearsals Sophie developed her character from the gutter snipe to the elegant lady, it was a delight to see.
Being nominated for this award is a thrill in itself, but winning against stiff opposition, is the real WOW factor, both for the Society, as well as Sophie and her family. A true prize for all her hard work.”