Leah takes centre stage in new RSC broadcast

Breakthrough: Leah Whitaker in The Taming Of The Shrew at the Globe
Breakthrough: Leah Whitaker in The Taming Of The Shrew at the Globe

When the Royal Shakespeare Company’s broadcast of the Bard’s classic Love’s Labour’s Lost is screened through to the audience at Hebden Bridge Picture House on Wednesday, February 11, there will be no prouder man than Mark Whitaker.

For among the cast in the production, in the role of the Princess of France, will be his 33-year-old daughter Leah, who in RSC’s 2014-15 season has achieved a lifetime’s ambition by becoming a member of perhaps the world’s most famous company, devoted to producing and performing the works of one of the world’s greatest playwrights.

Leah grew up in Blackshaw Head and attended Stubbings and Riverside schools in Hebden Bridge before going on to North Halifax Grammar and Greenhead College.

There followed a double first class honours degree in English and Drama at Manchester for Leah, during the course of which the woman who took her first steps on stage with Calder Valley Youth Theatre got a lot of acting under her belt.

After Manchester, and taking a year out to earn some money, Leah began applying to drama schools and won a place at RADA, which only has 16 places for women each year.

Mark said: “She was always interested in trying to be an actress, it’s all she ever wanted to do, since she was tiny.

“She got the three year RADA course, which was fantastic, and left to join the acting profession.

“Like everybody in that position she didn’t get a lot of jobs in her first year. But RADA teach their students how to deal with rejection.

“Gradually she started to pick up work and winning the RSC place is wonderful - her first love is Shakespeare.”

Mark said she began rehearsing for the 2014-15 programme of plays in late spring last year.

“It’s a real luxury in terms of rehearsal time.

“Actors are hired for a season and as well as Love’s Labour’s Lost she has recently been doing the RSC’s Christmas play too.

“Her big break came last year when she was taken on by the Globe Theatre in London for a role in the all-female version of Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew - where she played the male lead,” said Mark.

He said the stage was Leah’s favourite format to work with.

“She has done odd bits of television but it is theatre she loves and mainly Shakespeare. She says she is best as an interpreter of different words.”

The RSC production of Love’s :Labour’s Lost will be broadcast at Hebden Bridge Picture House on Wednesday, February 11, when the doors open at 6pm for a 7pm performance start.

Contact the box office on 01422 842807 for advance ticket details.