Where are they now? Tobias Oliver
What attracted you to study at the University of Sheffield?
It was when the Drama Studio was pointed out to me on my Open Day tour that I knew I had to study English Literature at the University of Sheffield and perform on that stage.
What is your fondest university memory?
It’s so hard to narrow it down to just one - there are so many. But I think it has to be playing the title role in Rob Crouch’s production of Hamlet in my final year and then taking an abridged version (Half a Hamlet) to the Edinburgh Festival later that year. It also starred Rob Rouse (now a very successful comedian).
What bit of advice would you tell your first-year self?
Stop worrying – you’re going to have an amazing time, you’ll do things you’ve always wanted to do, make lasting friendships, and best of all you will meet the love of your life.
What else were you involved in when you were at University (clubs/societies etc)?
I was part of the Theatre Society: I held the post of Social Secretary, arranged club nights to raise funds (even doing the odd bit of DJing) and acted in as many productions as I could. I also co-presented a show on Forge FM and wrote the (very) occasional article for the student magazine.
As an alumnus of the University yourself, do you think that it is important for the University to keep in touch with its former students?
Yes, I’m always interested to hear what the University and its students are up to. It’s really good to see the greater involvement in the life of the city – the recent ‘Festival of the Mind’ was fantastic and made me even prouder to be an alumnus.
Tell us about your current job?
At the moment I actually have two jobs. I am a Communications Account Manager at Sheffield City Council. I am also Marketing Director of Mr Bugg Presents, a theatre company my husband (composer Matthew Bugg) and I set up with producer Keith Arrowsmith. We are taking our current production, ‘Miss Nightingale – the burlesque musical’ on a 12 week tour of the UK this spring/summer, including a stint in London’s West End and two shows at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre in July.
Did your degree help you with what you are doing now?
Yes, without a doubt. My degree allowed me to develop so many of the skills I use daily in my work. It also gave me amazing hands on experience of all aspects of stagecraft: from understanding a play to taking if from the written words on the page and into a performance on stage. I often wish I could go back and do it all again, because I know I’d appreciate just how good it was even more now. And I’d ask even more questions!
What has been a personal highlight of your career?
Staging the first, chamber version of ‘Miss Nightingale – the musical’ in 2011 – we were the first musical to enjoy a sell out run in the Lowry Studio, Salford and became the best-selling late night show at London’s King’s Head Theatre. We had a fantastic response from both critics and audiences – the success was far more than we ever dared to hope for. And to be doing the full-length version this year (including performances in Sheffield this time) is so exciting.
What do you do in your spare time?
With two jobs on the go I don’t have a lot of spare time at the moment. But when I do, I love reading, gardening and walking my sausage dog, Georgie, in Sheffield’s beautiful greenery.
If you want to learn more about 'Miss Nightingale - the musical' visit the website.