A UNIVERSITY of Winchester musical theatre graduate made his professional debut weeks after he completed his studies.

Toby Vanhaecke is appearing as a member of the ensemble in Frinton Summer Theatre’s My Fair Lady.

The show, performed within a big top in the Essex seaside town, stars Jennifer Louise Jones as Eliza Doolittle, Alan Cox as Henry Higgins and Clive Brill as Alfred Doolittle. Clive also directs the production.

Toby, who was born and grew up in Essex, was the director’s assistant for the Summer Theatre’s 2022 production of Jesus Christ Superstar.  This year in addition to performing as part of the ensemble he is once again the director’s assistant.

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Dr Matthew Lockitt, senior lecturer in musical theatre, said: “It's really exciting for us to see our graduates achieving various degrees of success, and Toby pursuing and getting this ensemble role, so soon after completing his training with us, is inspiring to the rest of his cohort and to our students who are following him through the programme.

 “Toby's cohort is the first group to study on the University's revamped, industry-focused degree, with increased skills tuition in acting, singing and dance, but also industry training covering auditioning techniques and Swing training.”

Toby said of his course: “It was a really healthy competitive atmosphere where I always felt pushed to be my best, personally, not to be better than others. I felt encouraged by my classmates and lecturers to be as good as I could possibly be.”

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During his time at the University of Winchester, Toby performed a variety of roles including as the vegan spider Spindle in the New Musical Theatre Production of Just Bee in his second year, Che in Southampton Operatic Society’s Evita, and shared the role of Jesus in the University’s production of Godspell at the Theatre Royal Winchester in May.

The 21-year-old has also been signed by the agency Sound Check Group in London along with fellow Winchester graduates Francesca Waters and Morgan Groser.

They will be represented by agent Simon Pontin, who has nearly 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry and is also a Winchester performing arts graduate.