Wolverhampton's Phaedra Nicholls in The Mikado at Tettenhall College

By Alison Norton | Entertainment | Published:

This week, we are featuring Phaedra Nicholls, a singing teacher and performer from Wolverhampton, who is appearing as Yum Yum in Tettenhall Operatic Company’s concert version of The Mikado from February 17-18, at The Towers Theatre within Tettenhall College.

Well known for her beautiful soprano voice, I asked Phaedra how she became involved in amateur theatre.

“I have always loved performing from a very early age, but it wasn’t until I was in my teens that I had my first leading role as Anita in West Side Story,” she says.

“I began having private lessons at the age of 13 and found my love of all things musical. I wend on to study drama at Wolverhampton University, at which point I had started to sing classically. My passion for big operatic arias grew and I successfully auditioned to train as an opera singer at Birmingham Conservatoire.”

Phaedra tells me that the voice is a complex instrument which changes throughout your lifetime. I wondered how she assesses which type of voice her students have when they come to learn to sing.

“Studies show that your voice doesn’t truly settle until you are between your late 20’s to mid-30’s, but I can assess a pupil’s vocal ability and range through a series of warm up exercises and getting them to sing arpeggios, scales and intervals,” says Phaedra. “From that I can see if they are an alto or soprano, a bass or a tenor.”

We then moved onto her role as Yum Yum.

“I first played Yum Yum over 10 years ago and I loved every second of it,” said Phaedra. “She has one particularly beautiful aria called The Sun Whose Rays, which is a joy to perform, along with the rest of this lovely score,” she says.

“I am always attracted to Gilbert and Sullivan as I love their bizarre story lines and humour. The music is sometimes very challenging and keeps the cast on their toes though.


“Sadly, Gilbert and Sullivan is no longer as popular as it used to be,” Phaedra continued. “It has its own following, with the majority of the audience being fifty plus, which is a shame because it is highly comical and when done right, can still be relevant today with its satire. It is nice to see that some of their works are having revamps, for example The Hot Mikado, which keeps performers interests and the G&S name floating around out there.”

Phaedra has performed many Gilbert and Sullivan roles, including some of the most famous. Josephine in HMS Pinafore, Edith and Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, Princess Ida in Princess Ida and Maybud in Ruddigore to name but a few, but what would be her dream role, I wonder?

“Good question,” she laughs! “Maria in West Side Story, Musetta in Puccini’s La Boehme, Eliza in My Fair Lady. There’s so many out there and I just love performing live theatre and putting my heart and soul into a performance!”

Sounds good to me Phaedra. For tickets for The Mikado, call 01902 751729 or visit

Alison Norton

By Alison Norton

Theatre critic and unofficial 'am dram queen' for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star


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