Former Shropshire student dazzles on West End stage

A former Shrewsbury Colleges Group (SCG) student is hitting all the right notes in the multiple award-winning musical Hamilton.

Stephenson Ardern-Sodje, who completed his Film Studies, English Combined and Classical Civilisation A Levels at SCG in 2009, has been singing and rapping on the West End stage since 2017 as a member of the Hamilton cast.

Hamilton follows the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the American founding fathers, confronting issues as important today as they were then with a cast of non-white actors and a story told through hip hop, R&B, pop, soul and traditional show tunes. It has achieved both critical acclaim and box office success, winning a plethora of awards in the process.

After gaining an English degree for Creative Writing from Brunel University, trying a few different jobs in Manchester and moving back to London for a television writing job, Stephenson saw an advert for an open audition in June 2016 and decided to give it a go. The casting directors liked the audition, but were concerned at his lack of experience, so he went to the Royal Academy of Music to study an MA in Musical Theatre. He re-auditioned a year later and was given the part of Swing, where the performer covers multiple roles in the chorus – he even had the chance to play the main role of Alexander Hamilton in December.

Stephenson says, “My contract has been reissued until November this year and I’ve honestly never felt so professionally and personally fulfilled. There’s something so invigorating about finding a job that challenges you and plays to all your strengths. I’m beyond ecstatic to be staying on.”

For the foreseeable future, Stephenson is very Hamilton focused, but he is currently writing a pilot episode of a TV show and working with another writer on the early stages of a musical.

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