One thing about life at essensuals Rugby – it’s never boring. Part of that is down to the fact that when you work with the public – you never get the same day twice. Part of that is because it’s a creative industry. However, the biggest reason is that our Creative Lead is such a character. 18 years ago he stood in front of a pine shop called “Pineapple” & thought “that would make a fantastic salon”. It’s that same vision that has taken him on a particularly unique journey in the last twelve months.

Rugby Theatre is a charity based in our town centre that has set the standard for amateur across the midlands for many years. As a salon we became involved when we sponsored the musical Hairspray. We went on to send in a team to work on the hair for that show and Sunset Boulevard.

It is a very little known fact that Stephen has a good singing voice and used to earn his pocket money as a young boy by knocking on the doors of his neighbours in his childhood home in Wales & deliver a well-received song tune that won him much praise. Clear signs that he was destined to become quite the entrepreneur. Musicals have always been a firm favourite & his family have known for a long time that any car journey will always include a live & vivacious vocal performance from start to finish.

This skill was hidden from the outside world. until twelve months ago, when Stephen took the brave and interesting step of taking to the stage for his first musical. He had been talking about auditioning for things and failing to show up for about two years.

Stephen Fordham Rugby Theatre 2

In Spring 2017, auditions were advertised for Jekyll & Hyde the Musical, to be staged in October 2017. Stephen had done his usual hype about auditioning & then not shown. The musical Director at this point, Mark Tolchard, being friends with Stephen’s wife Louise, sent her a message saying “Tell your husband he’s a coward.” Always thrilled to find another reason to abuse Stephen, she was only too happy to oblige. Faced with that reality, Stephen auditioned & won a part in his first musical. If felt like the whole of Rugby Town had “Jekyll” mania. The staff at the salon (well Hannah Lewis in particular) rehearsed with Stephen in the yard. They knew the words to the songs & were excellent prompts when Stephen was learning his lines. Clients were amazed at the thought of Stephen singing on stage (a lucky few at the end of the day received a pre- show rendition). Jekyll & Hyde at Rugby Theatre went on to win the NODA award for best musical in the West Midlands. Stephen was hooked.

Stephen Fordham Rugby Theatre 3

His next musical was the foot tapping Guys&Dolls at Rugby Theatre in June 2018. This introduced Stephen to the world of dance. A world that he had to be dragged kicking & screaming into. On his first dance lesson he walked in & promptly walked out – but due to the incredible skill, patience & no nonsense approach of the show choreographer Sara Evans – she got him back into the studio. Armed with the agreement of “if you have a word with your face, I can deal with your feet” she managed to get successful movement out of Stephen. Kenny Robinson was the show Director & Stephen regularly welcomed him with a show step & a song. (We think this is how he still greets Kenny now!)

Stephen Fordham Rugby Theatre 4

This is where we thought this would end. However, Stephen was waiting for his wife one night. He found her laughing hysterically & being mercilessly distracted from her work by an incredibly funny man. Without knowing who he was – but sharing in the same sense of humour the two joined forces & Louise gave up trying to work & just enjoyed the comedy duo. That man was David Allen, who was also the Director for the next musical at Rugby Theatre – The Beautiful Game. A same shared sense of fun meant that Stephen didn’t think twice about auditioning for his third musical in twelve months.

One Team – Two Beliefs

The Beautiful Game, a musical by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Ben Elton. This award-winning musical follows the fortunes of a group of teenagers in a local football team from both sides of the religious divide during The Troubles in 1960s Belfast.

Creating an emotionally engaging atmosphere from the start, the show goes from big chorus numbers, to rap sections, to beautiful ballads with an undeniable Northern Irish heart.

A passionate and energetic musical, Ben Elton tells the story with wit and compassion, whilst Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score will take you on an emotional journey of comedy, violence and moments of heart-breaking pathos, as you become embroiled in the journey of one team with two beliefs.

Show Dates: 20 – 27 October 2018 (no show on Sunday)

Tickets cost £16/17, you can book online at  or through the box office 01788 541234. (Please note opening hours 7.00pm to 8.00pm Mondays to Fridays and 10.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays)


Below, Stephen and Louise back in the salon with the odd greeting of a show step & a song from Stephen.