Founder / Principal

 Doreen Donnell

Singing A.T.C.L, L.T.C.L, F.T.C.L
Piano A.T.C.L, L.T.C.L
Speech & Drama A.T.C.L

From a young age Doreen excelled in the performing arts. By the time she had finished school she had already attained several Trinity College of London, Diploma level qualifications in Singing, Speech and Drama and Piano. Doreen taught all three art forms until the commitments of her performance career saw her make the decision to specialize in singing.

A well known and respected singing teacher for the past 40 years, her ability in the specialist training of young voices is well documented and widely recognized. Doreen founded “The Donnell Singers” a young persons choir, who achieved many successes in vocal competitions, appeared on several television programs & Telethon’s, radio programs and public performances all over Auckland and throughout New Zealand.

Several of her most successful students have gone on to perform professionally in New Zealand and overseas. Many have passed Trinity College, London examinations with the highest marks in New Zealand, and others, with the highest marks in the Northern Region. Her students’ successes in singing championships and scholarships around the Auckland province are also well documented and Doreen has been requested to adjudicate for several competition societies throughout New Zealand.

She and her husband Ken Donnell founded ACTA in 1998 and were the head tutors of the singing and drama departments. Their daughter Janine Donnell (currently the Artistic Director of ACTA) was originally the head tutor of the dance department. ACTA was based on an Australian idea for training children and young people in all three art forms required for musical theatre. This was the first Academy in New Zealand of its kind teaching acting, singing and dance in one curriculum, enabling students to gain experience in performance as well as singing competitions, and examinations in music theatre, singing, and speech and drama with Trinity College, London.

Doreen trained with the great Dame Sister Mary Leo and during that time won 5 of New Zealand’s major aria contests including New Zealand’s National Aria Contest. She also won a number of other prestigious vocal scholarships and championships throughout New Zealand and is one of a select few New Zealand artists to have won Australia’s prestigious Dame Nellie Melba Scholarship and Memorial Cup.

As a performer she has appeared in principal roles in over 45 productions encompassing musical theatre, opera, oratorio and straight dramatic plays. She was a noted concert stage artist and a regular Radio NZ national recording artist. She is a trained dancer and has performed in entertainment cabarets in NZ and for American and Canadian Armed Forces in France and Germany.

A Royal Command performer she sang for HRH Prince Charles and HRH Princess Ann, and with her husband Ken, has sung for HRH Princess Alexandra and Hon. Angus Ogilvie, on their respective Auckland visits. She toured New Zealand with English tenor John Boulter of the “Black and White Minstrel Show” and has shared the stage with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Dame Malvina Major on several occasions.

She has also appeared in several television features and commercials and was cast in the feature film story of Janet Frame’s “An Angel at my Table”. She also featured as a Radio New Zealand Broadcasting personality for 7years.

Her skills also cover direction of several musical shows including the New Zealand premiere of “Some like it Hot”. She has worked professionally with several international directors including Joe Layton (America) on “Aloha”, Tom Guerra (America) on “Evita” and family friend Garry Ginivan (Australia), on several full scale children’s musicals.

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