RACHEL Lane is settling in as the new general manager of the Grand Opera House in York.

Her appointment by the Ambassador Theatre Group completes a changing of the guard at all three of York's principal players in the entertainment world, after Tom Bird took over as executive director at York Theatre Royal at the turn of the year and Darren Moore is now managing York Barbican.

Originally from Milton Keynes and educated in Buckingham, Rachel studied History with German at University College, London, with a year abroad at the Humboldt in Berlin, but "I always loved the arts, I always dabbled," she says. "I performed in Milton Keynes, danced with the London Children's Ballet at 13 and was a junior associate at Birmingham Royal Ballet for two years, going there at weekends.

"I loved dancing of any kind and I loved music, being an enthusiastic singer, and I've got a big scrapbook of all the theatre trips I've been on, with the first ticket being for the opening pantomime at the Milton Keynes Theatre, probably Peter Pan, I think.

"I was always adding to the scrapbook, starting with theatre and broadening my range as Milton Keynes is only half an hour from London on the train, and I was very lucky that my family loved theatre, catching the big musicals like The King And I, and my aunty took me to the ballet too."

Rachel performed in her university days too. "Like most students, I threw myself into various societies: musical theatre, opera, orchestras," she says. "I played viola, though I'd started off with piano and violin, until my piano teacher said, 'you've got such long arms, you should play viola', so I ended up playing in a string quartet.

"That was my first professional experience: playing with the string quartet 1571 at education conferences, and we were so named because one of the first pieces we performed together was Mozart's String Quartet K1571. We had to play it at a music festival competition and I had to announce it, but I got so nervous that I just announced it as '1571', and one of the judges said, 'isn't that a phone service?', and so the name stuck."

What led Rachel to the administrative and management side of the theatre world? "I've always loved theatre, I've always loved the arts, but I knew I didn't want to be a performer or necessarily have the talent to make it as a performer, but I knew I wanted to work in theatre," she says.

"Without knowing about a pathway into it, I decided just to try to get into it some way, so I started working in the box office and front of house at the Milton Keynes Theatre, and I loved the camaraderie," she recalls.

"I also worked at Bletchley Park, selling tickets at the National Museum of Computing at Hut 8, and during this time, the Ambassador Theatre Group launched its graduate scheme in theatre management and administration in January 2014. I went through various stages of applying and was very fortunate to become one of only two 'guinea pigs' to trial it. The scheme began in September 2014 and they have just taken on their fifth trainee on the two-year scheme."

Rachel started at the Liverpool Empire, then the Trafalgar Studios in London, The Ambassadors in Woking, which included the only cinema in the Ambassador portfolio, and the business development team, each on a six-month block.

"I finished the scheme in September 2016 and went on to apply to be deputy general manager at Aylesbury's Waterside Theatre, so back to Buckinghamshire for 18 months," she says.

"When the position of general manager at the Grand Opera House in York came up, being a history enthusiast, I thought, 'amazing, what an opportunity, what a beautiful city'."

And the rest is indeed history as Rachel takes on running a theatre at the age of 26.