The Charing Cross Theatre is a little gem of a venue, found in the West End located right by Charing Cross station. Right now, it is playing host to a revival of The Mikado. Thom Southerland’s radical re-imaging of the Gilbert & Sullivan opera has been receiving rave reviews, thanks in part to the star line-up of performers attached to the production. One of the show’s cast members is the talented Leigh Rhianon Coggins, who is also credited here in the ranks of In Profile.
This accomplished soprano certainly has a wealth of experience to bring to the table, going right back to her days of training. Hailing from Bridgend in Mid Glamorgan, South Wales, Coggins graduated from Porthcawl Comprehensive School in 2005 with a BTec in Performing Arts. She then went on to study Music/Voice at the Junior Royal Welsh College of Musical and Drama before completing her training in 2009 at Guildhall, where she left with a BMus (Hons) Classical Voice. Her time at these schools offered her many fruitful opportunities, including the chance to perform in a variety of theatre productions, such as playing Florence in Chess (Bingham Hall) and Frasquita in Carmen (Wyvern Theatre), as well as Yum Yum in The Mikado. She also performed as a soloist singer at the Millennium Centre. She already had previous experience in live performance thanks to Little Venice Opera, for which she played Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier and Madame Warblewell in Der Schauspieldirektor, and the Welsh National Youth Theatre, appearing in productions of The Rake’s Progress and Candide. She also performed in La Boheme at the Longborough Festival Opera in 2009 and was twice chosen as the ‘South Wales Evening Post Singer of the Year’, in 2003/2005.
Coggins’ first professional role post-Guildhall was in the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Tour. Between 2009 and 2010, she performed alongside such established names as Jon Robyns (Enjolras), Madalena Alberto (Fantine), Katie Hall (Cosette) and Gareth Gates (Marius) as part of the touring production company, headed up by Earl Carpenter as Javert and John Owen-Jones as Valjean. She had an ensemble role in the show, and additionally, was 1st Cover to the principal role of Cosette. She performed in that same role at the 2010 Olivier Awards and was also invited to take part in the 25th Anniversary concert of Les Miserables at the O2, appearing as a member of the featured ensemble and as Cosette for the Barbican company.
In 2011, she also played Mabel in Mitch Sebastien’s production of Pirates of Penzance at the Kilworth House Theatre before becoming involved in another milestone tour, this time travelling round the UK as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations for the West End’s second longest-running musical: The Phantom of the Opera. The touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical premièred at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth in March 2012 and reunited Coggins with her cast mates from the Les Mis anniversary tour, John Owen-Jones and Earl Carpenter, who alternated the title role of the masked Phantom. She was once more cast as a member of the ensemble, but also understudied the lead female role of Christine Daae, played by Katie Hall, who had also previously featured in the Les Mis tour. The show also starred a number of other notable names, including Simon Bailey as Raoul, Hannah Cadec as Meg Gury and Elizabeth Marsh as Madame Giry.
Her other theatre credits include early roles before she was a professionally trained and working actress, such as an ensemble credit in Oklahoma!, Marty in Grease and playing Polly in The Boyfriend, all for Trojan Horse Theatre Company. She also played the role of Letter Writer in Only The Brave (Matt Brind).
She can also be heard on the cast recording of the original Welsh musical from Christopher J Orton and Robert Gould, My Land’s Shore – which is actually where I first met her. I sat in on a few of the studio sessions when the album was being made and, unsurprising in relation to the subject matter of the musical, having Welsh West End stars performing on it was something that both Orton and Gould (both of whom are from Wales) felt was important. This extended beyond the principal roles to the ensemble – a number of the ensemble vocalists (of which Coggins was one) were brought in due to their Welsh roots.
She was recently in the ensemble of Opera Danube’s The Merry Widow at St John’s Smith Square, but is currently to be found in the West End at the Charing Cross Theatre where she is appearing in Southerland’s acclaimed revival of The Mikado. The show, which stars Rebecca Caine as Katisha and Mark Heenehan as The Mikado, opened on 27th November 2014 and continues through until 3rd January 2015.
The name of Leigh Rhianon Coggins is one to watch out for as the award-winning soprano is building an impressive career for herself and strengthening her position in the industry with every appearance. A performer with an abundance of talent, she makes a beneficial addition to any show for cast and audience alike and is a rising star with the potential to achieve great things in her career.
You can follow Leigh on Twitter: @leighrhianon
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Monday 22nd December 2014