Meet the team

Tonicha Lawrence


Tonicha has been working in the industry since the age of 2! Having spent many years training in dance and musical theatre, her passion for acting became her main goal. At 16 she won the role of ‘Linda Glover’ in ITV’s ‘Emmerdale’ and subsequently went on to perform in roles such as John Godber’s ‘Seasons in the Sun’, ‘Dr Faustus’ and many more … her recent return to screen this year includes BBC’s ‘Casualty’ and ‘Holby City’ where she plays the continuing character of ‘Steph Sims’.
As well as running her successful acting agency during the week, Tonicha also works as a teaching practitioner delivering workshops in presentation skills, being successful in interviews and team building.

Jennifer Whittaker

Jennifer Whittaker

Head of Drama

Jennifer fell in love with performing arts at an early age; her passion and enthusiasm for teaching began at 16 when she was asked to cover a local drama class and she never looked back! Jennifer studied performing arts at Huddersfield, whilst studying she toured twice with National Youth Theatre Shell Connections, taking lead roles in both productions as well as co-directing the second tour; was a lead dancer in the Show Girls Tour and performed on the West End twice. Within this time, Jennifer undertook her LAMDA, LCMM and BBO examinations and later her Associate Diploma in Performance Arts – a teaching qualification.
Jennifer took a break from performing arts at 19 and went to study for a business management degree at Leeds University before returning to performing arts to complete a musical theatre degree in a year. During the year, Jennifer wrote, directed and produced a musical theatre production and undertook lead roles in three others that toured UK wide.
Jennifer has taught for many different performing arts institutions and has assisted with the coordination of many major events and productions including West End Productions and an event at Disney Land Paris.
Jennifer is extremely excited to be part of TLA and has officially declared Saturdays as the best day of the week!!!

Liz Welburn 

Head of Music

Elizabeth (Liz) has over 18 years performance experience and is a graduate from Leeds College of Music. She is an accomplished singer, violinist, piano accompanist, song writer and music producer. Liz’s infectious personality (and bossy boots) delivers dynamic sessions with her intense teaching values allowing you to become the best you can be. Her artist development sessions are formed around the student’s wants and needs. Goals are set and a clear development plan is formed. This personal structured program keeps students on track and is a place where we can record, evaluate, monitor and amend endeavours.
Liz also teaches private singing lessons as a bolt on extra to TLA classes should clients wish to develop their vocal training on a more professional level.

Dani Grierson

Head of Dance

Born in Manchester, Dani now works around the North West teaching Dance for Artis Education in Primary Schools supplementing the school curriculum. As well as delivering GCSE Dance in high schools, Dani also works within professional theatre companies and now TLA. Dani’s Degree in Musical Theatre, gained at the University of Lancaster & Hull (2004-2007), followed by a P.G.C.E specialising in Dance (2010-2011). She has taught Master classes for the last two summers at Pineapple Studios in London and Sunshine Studios in Manchester, teaching a variety of dance styles.
Dani also teaches private dance lessons as a bolt on extra to TLA classes should clients wish to develop their dance training on more of a one to one level.

Chris Furminger

Technical Director

A theatre technician at Ralph Thoresby Community Theatre, at 14, Technical Engineer, at 20, IT Trainer, at 23, IT Manager, at 34, and father of five at 40, Chris draws from his varied background, all of which have technology and problem solving at the heart, to bring a wealth of knowledge to the shows and workshops. Chris has provided lighting, sound, scenery, props and equipment for shows including The Lion King, Wind in the Willows, Bugsy Malone, Jungle Book, school examinations at GCSE and A level and private events. Chris is passionate about supporting young people to achieve their potential and by sharing his knowledge and using it, he helps to bring visions to life.

Lisa Lees

Lisa Lees

Resident Photographer

Having spent 20 years in theatre as a stage manager and lighting technician, changing tack and becoming a photographer seemed a natural progression. Using an extensive experience of lighting and creating the right mood, photographic services based on a love of art, theatre and portraiture, and delivering ‘images that mean more’ are the mainstay of the work. Specialising in natural light photography, which is particularly conducive to child portraiture, studio sessions, where the lighting can be controlled to suit the image required, can be arranged.

Richard Meadmore

Sound Technician

At the age of 12 Richard was the youngest person ever to be authorised to operate a BBC radio station live on air, but soon came to his senses and obtained a ‘proper’ job running a successful business supplying/installing home cinemas and multi room music systems. Five years ago Tonicha asked Richard to help out with the sound for a show – recalling all of his early BBC training and is now a fully fledged member of the technical team!.

Jane Hundley

Jane Hundley

Administration & Creative

Jane became involved with TLA as a volunteer helper when her son started classes in 2013.  Since then she has taken on the role of TLA administrator and is responsible for creating and maintaining the TLA brand and designing posters, programmes, etc for the TLA shows.  Jane is always keen to help with all aspects of TLA life, from preparing paninis in the café or assisting with the sound for shows.  Jane is also a registered chaperone.