Meet The Team

Director/Playwright - Laura Stevens

lauraUSPPLaura Stevens, who recently moved to Edinburgh from her native New York, co-founded Manhattan Children’s Theatre in 2002 and directed over 30 plays since, including theatrical productions for very young audiences (Little Tales, based on folk tales from around the world). Between 2002 and 2011, MCT welcomed over 250,000 audience members through its doors. Laura’s production of The Last of the Dragons debuted at Fringe in 2015 to rave reviews and toured to Biggar in Scotland and Warsaw in Poland to sold-out audiences.

Now Scotland-based, the mission of Manhattan Children’s Theatre is one of providing affordable, high quality theatre entertainment to audiences in Scotland, children in particular

Author - Clare Cockburn-Martin

Clare was inspired by her daughter Francesca, then 4, to write Mermalade as a kind of cautionary or moral tale, alongside another title “the Treasure Ship” written for her two sons. Originally written as a rhyming poem, it was self published in 2005 and the story formed the basis for many primary school book tours together with illustrator Anna Welch.

A writer from an early age, she is currently tackling an adult play with a mental health message.
Clare runs her development business The Style Theatre in support of drama and the life enhancing value of live theatre.

She is delighted that Mermalade, written 12 years ago, has finally found a home with Laura Stevens and Manhattan Children’s Theatre Company, and has loved working with Laura on this adaptation.

Illustrator - Anna Welch

Anna is a Landscape Architect who has, over the past twenty years, redirected her creativity to focus on painting. Working collaboratively with Clare Cockburn-Martin on ‘Mermalade’ and ‘The Treasure Ship’ are her only forays into illustration so far. Anna is currently concentrating on mixed media and oil painting.

Design Team

Linda Gillespie (Production/Design Management)

Has been involved with Amateur Theatre for many years, onstage and off, writing and directing her first pantomime script, Aladdin, in 1984 for Livingston’s New Town Entertainers. She went on to write and direct Sleeping Beauty the following year and from there was asked to take the role of Director for Carnwath Drama Group and subsequently was asked to take over as Director of Biggar Junior Theatre Workshop, initially writing and directing their productions such as Nessie Meets Titanic and Cocobananas.

Latterly she directed many of Malcolm Sircom’s youoth theatre scripts including The Pinafore Pirates, Dream On, Rocky Monster and Olivia. At the same time Linda was assisting more and more with the Adult side of the workshop, as a member of the Productions Group she is involved in designing and creating sets and has stage managed musicals, pantos and plays such as Guys and Dolls, Sweet Charity, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Boston Marriage and Snow White. She is currently finishing co-writing this year’s panto Mother Goose. She is delighted to be involved with Mermalade

Jennifer S Gillespie (Sound Design)

Recently graduated from Edinburgh Napier University having completed her BMus (Hons) in Classical Music. Having taken part in Amateur Dramatics since the tender age of 7, Jennifer has been involved with a variety of productions, ranging from Musical Theatre, Dramas and Opera. Jennifer has had many opportunities not only to perform in several productions (“Joanna”, in ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, “Tuptim”, in ‘The King and I’, and “Pamina”, in Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’.) but also as props master, stage crew and sound production. Recently, Jennifer served as Musical Director for Biggar Theatre Workshop’s pantomime “Snow White and the Biggar Dwarfs”, in December of last year and will be Musical Director again for this year’s pantomime “Mother Goose”.

Victoria Gillespie (Stage Management)

has been doing technical work for theatre productions from the time she was 11 years old when she was asked to operate the lighting for a local amateur theatre production of Calamity Jane. Having received an HND in Technical Theatre from Glasgow Kelvin College, she has gone on to operate, manage, design and rig countless productions. Favorites include: Sweet Charity, The Man of Lamancha, Proof, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Cats and Avenue Q.

Michael Schloegl (Costume/Set Design)

Schoegl2New York City based, Michael works as a designer, choreographer, music director, performer, playwright, theatre education director and is a children’s book author/illustrator. Design and directorial credits include: Radio City Christmas Spectacular, America Is My Home; Ellis Island, The Will Rogers Follies, Drag Through the Seasons (Off Broadway, Intar Theatre), and A Cookie Korquie Christmas (Off Broadway Trilogy Theatre). Writing credits include It’s Up In the Air!, Calling All Toys, The Chrismouse Story and the musical History Time Henry, an educational show touring throughout the United States and Canada.

He is a founding member of the acclaimed Vital Theatre Company in New York City and the founder of Already Cast Productions, an independent organization supporting innovative theatrical design. Michael directs musical theatre shows and conducts master classes for schools throughout the NYC region and is an associate partner with Broadway Edge where children master the art of auditioning through voice and movement.


Gigi Neil (Mermalade)

Headshot---Gigi2Gigi grew up on the beautiful Isle of Jersey in the Channel Islands and now calls London home. She trained at the Michael Howard Studios in New York City. Favorite NYC theatre credits include: “Love at the End of Time” (New York Fringe Festival), “Buzz Son of a Bee” (Off Broadway). TV credits include: “Secret Lives of Stepford Wives”, “Deadly Sins”, “ID Discovery”. She is currently developing, writing and producing a show based on the life of BRIDGETTE BARDOT, which will be featured at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2017.

Marc Mckinnan (Oyster 1)

MarcMackinnonOYSTER1Headshot2Hailing from Clackmannanshire, Marc works and performs with The Cecilian Society (Glasgow), Stag, Mad Props Theatre, & Smile-N Productions. Favorite roles include: Rev. Shaw Moore (Footloose), Isidor Strauss (Titanic), Bishop of Basingsstoke (Jekyll & Hyde).

Martin Murphy (Oyster 2)

IAM_Martin-Murphy-1Martin recently graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with a Masters in Musical Theatre. Credits during drama school include a successful run at The Edinburgh Fringe 2014 with Assembly playing Gomez in ‘The Addams Family’ and Brooke in ‘The Girl Who.’ He also played ‘Aladdin’ at the Ayr Gaiety Theatre over the Christmas season 2013/14. After leaving drama school, Martin went on to work at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre, playing a Giant/Ensemble in Roald Dahls ‘The BFG.’ Martin continued his repertoire of quirky characters by playing the Last Ever (!) Dragon in “The Last of The Dragons” at last years Edinburgh Fringe.

Ross Donnachie (Oyster 3)

RossDonnachie2Edinburgh born, Ross holds an HNC from Telford College. He has worked and performed with THRIVE Theatre, Cat O’ Nine Tales, Baldy Bane, and Strangetown amongst others. This fringe he can also be seen in Blazing Hyena’s production of ‘1,2,3, Yippee!’.

James Boal (Thor)

THORJAMESBOALPHOTOJames is from Northern Ireland, he moved to Edinburgh in 2013 to continue his training as an actor. Stage works include “One, Two, Three Yippee!” and “For the Love of Cousins” (Blazing Hyena Theatre Company), “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” (In Your Face Theatre) at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014, the Irish premier of Caryl Churchill’s “Far Away” (Staged Assault Theatre Co), and “The Comedy of Errors” (The Lyric Theatre). Screen works include “The Cruelty of Beauty” (Dragonstone Pictures), “Normality” (Red Dream Productions/Northern Ireland Screen) and “Signing Off” (BBCNI).