Only 23 years old, Sophie Herrmann has set up her own musical theatre company, and is already so successful that she’s had the CBBC ringing her.
It takes guts to set up a business fresh out of university, but Sophie Herrmann was not afraid to take the plunge. Half-way through her Psychology degree at Cardiff, she lost interest in the subject, and so looked to extra educational schemes for inspiration. That inspiration came in the form of an enterprise award, for which she submitted a business plan to compete for a £1000 prize. Sure enough, she won the money. It was quite a turning point. “That convinced me that maybe I should go down the entrepreneurial route,” she says.
A Young Starter
Even as a child, Sophie never liked to take the back seat. When she was as young as eight years old, she went along to a pantomime in her home town of Bournemouth, saw auditions for the next play advertised on the back of the programme, and decided she wanted to go. All children had to be accompanied, so she made her mum come along too.
Then, when she was just 12, she started volunteering to help teach the younger kids at her musical theatre school. The adults recognised her talent for teaching and let her work instead of paying the fees, meaning, as she explains, “I’ve pretty much been employed in musical theatre since that point at 12 years old, which is just bizarre.”
However, her success didn’t always go down too well at home. She describes her parents as supportive up to a point, and it has always been difficult with her sister too, only a couple of years younger, who didn’t manage to get into the Grammar school like Sophie. “We hated each other,” Sophie remarks. Yet now things are better; her sister is even making Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat for their next show.
Sophie has big plans for the business. Initially, she hopes to get enough kids for two sessions to run simultaneously on the Saturday, then to extend into weekday lessons, and finally to move on to a new city. She plans to “attack” Bristol next.
Of course, as with any business, there are downsides. The first year of the business completely took over her life. She was lucky enough to have some very understanding friends, but it meant that she had very little time for a romantic relationship, and had to put business before her boyfriend.
Yet the hard work is paying off; they have been asked to send two groups of dancers for the TV programme ‘Children in Need does Glee Club’. One day she had a phone call, picked it up found it was none other than the CBBC. One group will be choreographed by Sophie and the other by her assistant director. If all goes well in the auditions, their show will be aired sometime in March. “It’s madness, but it’s amazing,” she laughs.