AN aspiring performer from Galashiels has realised a lifelong dream by sharing the stage with one of musical theatre’s biggest stars.

Nineteen-year-old Gareth Williams, who is currently training for a BA (Hons) degree in Musical Theatre at The MGA Academy of Performing Arts in Edinburgh, was given the opportunity to provide backing vocals for West End and Broadway star Kerry Ellis during her 20th anniversary concert at The Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh.

Kerry is widely considered to be the one of musical theatre’s biggest stars and has previously starred in Wicked, We Will Rock You, My Fair Lady, Miss Saigon, Oliver! and Les Miserables.

Gareth told us: “Performing with Kerry Ellis was a great experience as she is such an accomplished performance and has a huge following.

"After the show, she spent time chatting with us and said she was really impressed with how we sounded and how professional we all were which was great to hear.”

Gareth decided to apply for a place The MGA Academy of Performing Arts two years ago as he wanted to stay in Scotland while studying at a level equivalent to prestigious London performing arts colleges.

The former Earlston High School pupil told us: “I have been doing musical theatre since I was a child and grew up performing in school productions of shows such as Miss Saigon, Hairspray and 42nd Street.

"I always knew it was what I wanted to do and decided to apply for a place at The MGA Academy of Performing Arts as I’d heard great things about the training there.

"My audition actually took place on the day my nephew was born which I think was a good sign. I sang That’s Life by Frank Sinatra and Empty Chairs at Empty Tables from Les Miserables.

"When I received my acceptance letter, I was so excited and couldn’t believe my luck."

The MGA Academy last year became the first full-time professional training academy in Scotland to be awarded accreditation by CDMT, the UK’s quality assurance and membership body for the professional dance, drama and musical theatre industries.

West End star Kerry was impressed by Gareth and his fellow students.

She said: “Performing my 20th anniversary show in Edinburgh was great as I love performing there and am always welcomed with such warmth.

"I was honoured to have had students from The MGA Academy join me onstage as I have always been a huge supporter of the work they do.

"I was impressed with how professional all the students were and loved how much fun they brought to the show."

To apply for a place at The MGA Academy of Performing Arts, visit