Tutors and Visiting Tutors

Natalie Gilbert Tutor Youth Lyric

NATALIE GILBERT (Board Member, Head of Curriculum and Tutor)

Natalie Gilbert has been teaching Drama for 27 years and is currently Head of Performing Arts at Antrim Grammar, where she coordinates GCSE Drama and A-level Performing Arts classes.

Natalie is also currently a CEA examiner and visits schools in Northern Ireland each year to watch and assess A- level performances.

A tutor at Youth Lyric for over 20 years Natalie thoroughly enjoys teaching acting skills and preparing students for their Trinity Guildhall acting exams. Natalie is also the staff representative on the Youth Lyric Board of Trustees.

Jane Stewart (Head of Dance and Physical Theatre & Tutor)

Jane taught Physical Education for 10 years before embarking on a Dance Career. She started her own business in 1990 when she worked for the Education & Library Boards, promoting Dance in both Primary & Secondary schools. Jane has worked intensively with schools using Dance to develop cross community relationships and has been involved as the Artist in Residence.

Her work involves not only Dance but also Fitness, Aerobics & Pilates for adults. Alongside this she is responsible for teaching the Dance Module in Sports Studies at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown.

Jane has been the Dance Tutor at Youth Lyric for 30 years. The highlight of her career was choreographing & performing a solo dance at the Waterfront, for the Millennium Service.

Jane Stewart Youth Lyric Tutor
Sheelagh O'Kane Tutor Youth Lyric

Sheelagh O’Kane (Tutor)

Sheelagh studied at St John’s College, York. (B.A. hons,) The Lee Strasberg Institute, New York (Scholarship Student) and successfully completed an M.A in Arts in the Community. She has her L.L.C.M. (Licentiate of the London College of Music.) After completing her MA, she has been concentrating on directing, writing & facilitating working with young people.

She has directed the successful productions of The Witches, The Twits, The BFG, Alice in Wonderland, The Great Gatsby, The Crucible and Magical Mayhem which she wrote for the Youth Lyric Theatre in the Waterfront Hall. She recently directed the production of The lion the Witch and the Wardrobe for the Youth Lyric 2017

She has been working as a professional actress for over twenty years. Theatre work includes Crucible theatre, Sheffield (TMA award); Barbican, London; Covent Garden, (Mark wing-Davey) Theatre Babel, Scotland; Tinderbox; Prime Cut; Kabosh; Big Telly; Replay; Belfast Theatre Co; Indian Ink Theatre Co; Green Shoot Productions; the Ulster Theatre Co. and numerous productions for the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

She has been an arts advisor for the Arts Council and was vice chair of Equity N.Ireland, and is currently on the committee. She was also board director for Replay Productions and was a judge for Rock Challenge a UK based competition involving schools. Publications include “Theatre isn’t just entertainment” in “R Shared Future” for the Youth Council of N.Ireland.

She has both CIT and PGCHFE qualifications and is currently teaching at Belfast Metropolitan College.

Ali Donovan (Tutor)

Ali Donovan graduated from University College Chester in the year 2000.

Since then Ali has taught in Sydney, London, Shanghai and Belfast!! Ali joined Youth Lyric as a pupil at the age of eleven and starred in many festivals and productions including The Minotaur, which was part of the UK wide BT National Connections youth theatre competition.

Now a teacher in Strandtown Primary School Ali enjoys keeping fit and is married with two 2 children.

Alison Donavan Tutor Youth Lyric
Joanna Dickey Tutor Youth Lyric

Joanna Dickey (Board Member and Tutor)

Mrs. Joanna Dickey has a First class honours degree in English and Drama and a PGCE from Queen’s University in Belfast. Joanna is also a teacher and Head of Year at Antrim Grammar School.

Joanna is the newest member of our teaching team and her work in preparing students for Trinity Guildhall examinations, led to some of our best ever results. Joanna has recently been appointed as an A Level Performing Arts examiner for CCEA and looks forward to this new role.

In February 2019, Joanna directed Youth Lyric’s Creative Community Showcase in Antrim Courthouse theatre – an opportunity she has dreamt about, being a local resident of the area. This production has been made possible because of the largest ever grant which Youth Lyric has received. We thank the Enkalon Foundation for their most generous support!

Danielle Johnston (Tutor)

Danielle is a graduate from both Queen’s University Belfast where she studied Drama and English Literature and Hope University Liverpool when she completed her PGCE in 2014.  She is now a primary school teacher and adores her job.

Danielle has always had a huge passion for drama and the arts, taking part in local productions from a young age. Over the years, she has produced and directed many key stage one and two school productions including; The Lion King, Jungle Book, The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins. 

Danielle loves reading, attending theatre with her friends and adventuring with her dog Alfie!

Hannah Makinson (Tutor)

Hannah graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 2012 and Liverpool Hope University in 2014.

Hannah is a primary school teacher and loves performance having completed HND in performing arts alongside her degree in Drama and PGCE. Now a teacher in Strandtown Primary School, Hannah enjoys singing, attending theatre and enjoying time with family.

Danny McCombe (Tutor)

Danny is a primary school teacher who graduated from Stranmillis University College with a Bachelor of Education degree with honours in Primary teaching and has qualifications in Performing Arts.  He has attended classes with drama companies such as Helen O’Grady, Class Act, the Lyric Theatre and Theatre at the Mill.   He has a passion for drama and music, playing instruments including the cello and guitar along with singing.

Danny McCombe Tutor
Blair Barret

Blair Barrett (Tutor)

Blair studied Theatre Studies at A-level and is passionate about music, performing arts and working with young people.

After graduating from Stranmillis University College in 2007, Blair moved to London and taught in a specialist school for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Throughout her teaching career Blair has enjoyed taking the lead on school productions and being part of the teamwork, passion and creativity.

Leaving London after 7 years, Blair moved back to Belfast and has taught in Strandtown Primary school since 2014. Blair currently works as a learning support teacher providing intervention in small groups for Literacy and Numeracy.

Blair adores her job and enjoys building relationships with children and young people; ensuring they always have a positive, engaging and fun experience.

Bethany Roy (Tutor)

Bethany qualified at Stranmillis university with a BEd Primary Degree and now teaches at Knockhill Primary school in Lisburn.

She was taught by both Natalie and Joanna when studying at Antrim Grammar School and attained an A* and A at both GCSE and A-Level Performing Arts.

Bethany has continued to pursue her love for drama as well as helping to encourage the confidence and skills of children when performing.

In her spare time she loves to visit the theatre and catch up with friends.

Bethany Roy
Shauna Blaney Headshot

Shauna Blaney (Tutor)

Shauna graduated from Ulster University with a First-class honour’s degree in Media Studies and Production, a Master’s in English Literature and completed her PGCE in English, Drama and Media. She currently teaches alongside Natalie Gilbert and Joanna Dickey at Antrim Grammar School.

Shauna spent many years attending Speech and Drama where she obtained her Licentiate Diploma, she has a genuine love and enthusiasm for Drama and the Performing Arts.

Shauna loves to stay up to date with current trends in theatre by attending workshops and pursuing professional development opportunities. This exemplifies her commitment to the arts as she is continuously learning and growing within the industry.

Lynn McElroy (Tutor)

Lynn McElroy is a professional actor who trained on the MA Acting course at East 15 Acting school, London.

Her recent credits include The Birthday Party, Scenes with girls, Richard II, Cowboy Mouth, The Cherry Orchard and Eternal Love.

Lynn is an alumnus of Youth Lyric having joined at the age of seven, after graduating she rejoined us as a volunteer.
Lynn performed in many Youth Lyric productions during her years with us including Alice in Wonderland, Magical Mayhem, The Twits and The BFG.

She is excited to work with the new generation of students and reconnect with past tutors.


Nichola Bush (Visiting Tutor)

Nichola is an actor, singer, facilitator and teacher originally from Belfast. She strives to empower students with current knowledge of the Performing Arts industry and to encourage their unique, creative flair to flourish.

Nichola’s training includes BA Hons Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, Voice in Practice BSA, PGCE BSU, FCLM London College of Music, additionally she is a VHE Vocal First Aider and consistently updates her professional development in line with industry standards.

As an actor Nichola has worked in theatre, film, radio, credits include Tryst (LFF short pick), Feygele (BFI, LFF), Listening (BBC Radio), Hamlet (Tour), When we come back (Blue/Orange) amongst others.
Nichola is an examiner for CCEA Drama, Edexcel Drama and Theatre Studies, LCM Musical Theatre and BDA Song and Dance.

Nichola is looking forward to working with the next generation of actors and seeing each student grow in self confidence and self belief.

Anna Ross (Visiting Tutor)

Anna graduated from Liverpool Hope University in 2019.
Since then Anna has travelled and lived in Canada for 2 years. Working at a summer camp supporting children with additional needs and then going on to au pair for a family.

Anna has always loved drama and being apart of different productions in school such as Hairspray. She also loves watching and going to theatres. Her favourite production she has seen live is defiantly the lion king!Now starting her career as a primary school teacher, Anna enjoys all things fun, spending time with family and friends and loves travelling to new places.

Anna Ross
Heather Joy Wallace

Heather Joy Wallace (Visiting Tutor)

Heather-Joy graduated from the University of Ulster with a first class honours degree in Sports Science in 2010 and with a PGCE with Special Education Needs (SEN) in 2011. After graduating, she taught P.E. for three years and, through substitute teaching, gained a wide range of experience in primary, secondary and SEN schools across Belfast.

Through voluntary work with a variety of community and youth-work organisations in NI, Heather-joy has taught and choreographed dance performances with young people since she was a young adult. As a former student of Jane Stewart’s, Heather-Joy is delighted to join the Youth Lyric family and to continue to develop her dance teaching skills.

Having been born with an insatiable desire to daily-dance, Heather-Joy now loves spending as much time as possible teaching her two little boys the joy of movement; most of the time amid the glorious chaos of the family kitchen!

Ali Farrell (Visiting Tutor)

Ali completed her degree in Sports Studies at Stranmillis College in 2002 and following a year as a classroom assistant, went on to obtain a PGCE in the University of Cumbria in 2004.

Ali’s teaching career had been centred around Bangor and the Greater Belfast area, when she began teaching in Strandtown Primary School in 2008. Alison has worked in Y6, Y7 and Learning Support, but predominantly in Y4.
Ali loves her job as a teacher, working with and supporting children through the many platforms school offers. A highlight is always working with the young children to produce the school’s Year 4 concert.

In her free time Ali enjoys fitness training, spending time with her family and travelling. Attending the theatre productions is always high on the agenda whether at home or abroad

Ali Farell
Erin Bell Visiting Tutor

Erin Bell (Visiting Tutor)

Erin graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 2018 where she studied English. She completed her PGCE in English, Drama and Media Studies at the University of Ulster in 2019. Erin now works as an English and Drama teacher at Strathearn School.

Erin has been involved in drama and music from a young age, either acting on stage for school productions or playing violin in the school orchestra. She has been the assistant director for two successful school productions (The Wizard of Oz and A Christmas Carol).