A PROFESSIONAL actor who first appeared on stage aged five with a New Haw amateur group is bringing her hit show about the 1990s rave scene to Guildford.

Emmy Happisburgh will perform Second Summer of Love at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre's Mill Studio, after a critically acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Emmy lived in Send until she was seven and was in the New Haw Optimists pantomime Sleeping Beauty with her mum, Veronica Bowes, who appeared in and directed many shows for the group.

“I think it was probably one of the reasons I wanted to go on stage,” Emmy said.

She and her family moved to the Guildford area, where she continued performing in school productions, including starring as Sally Bowles in Cabaret at Cranleigh School.

Emmy, whose non-professional name was Emma Davey, studied musical theatre at the GSA, thanks to a scholarship from The Anthony Hopkins Charitable Trust.

“I never got to perform at the Mill Studio where the superior tappers had their lessons because I was in the bottom tap group,” Emmy said.

“The acting course in my year performed in the Mill Studio and I used to see the pantos at the Yvonne Arnaud when I was a kid. 

“I didn’t realise how happy I’d be to be performing there. When the posters went up, I could not stop smiling .”

Over the past 20 years Emmy has appeared in films and on TV, including in the BBC series Casualty.

She gained writing experience while working in the development department at MTV and decided to write Second Summer of Love when she reached 45 and was contemplating her life as an early middle-aged mum looking back on her teenage years.

“I was there at the beginnings of rave culture in the very early ’90s and I felt there hadn’t been an  authentic story told about that era,” Emmy said.

Emmy plays a character called Louise who is having flashbacks to her youth, triggered by her daughter’s anti-drugs homework.

“It was about me accepting mid life when a lot of my friends were thinking ‘we used to dance till six in the morning in fields around the Surrey countryside and now I’m doing geography homework at the kitchen table with a nine-year-old who won’t stop arguing with me and I need to be in bed by 8pm’.”

Emmy wrote and performed the play as a one-woman show, but she is being joined at the Mill Studio by her daughter Rosa Strudwick and Christopher Freestone in rewritten scenes.

Rosa, who has inherited the acting talents from her mum and grandmother, was signed up by an agent when she was very young and has appeared in the television series Inside No 9 and Not Going Out.

Second Summer of Love features a playlist of rave anthems and the flashback setting is Sterns nightclub, which was in the basement of a former manor house on a hill near Worthing that Emmy frequented as a teenager.

But the show is not just about nostalgia as the main character assesses her life.

“Coming out of the dark times of the pandemic, people need things that make them feel alive and happy to be here,” Emmy said.

“The character works out how to get through mid life and that it’s not over and that she’s got so much more to give. 

“I hope it helps other people who are coming to their late 40s and thinking ‘oh my God, is this it?’.” 

Second Summer of Love will be at the  Yvonne Arnaud Theatre’s Mill Studio on Thursday and Friday, 20 and 21 April at 7.45pm and The Connaught Studio, Worthing on Saturday 22 April at 7.30pm