Dedicated Musical Theatre School Set To Open In Birmingham

West End stars including Julie Atherton and Kerry Ellis (pictured) are being lined up to mentor students.

A full-time school for aspiring musical theatre performers will open in Birmingham next year, with its founder claiming it will bring the best of London to the Midlands.

'The Midlands Academy of Musical Theatre' has been backed by performers including West End leading lady, Kerry Ellis, and will open in September next year. It aims to offer a two-year course each year for 24 students, aged 17 and over. James Williams, the course director and founder, said:

"The idea for the accelerated two-year course came about after working with performers like Kerry on 'Musical Theatre Voices', a project that enables aspiring performers to work alongside professionals. As we were going round the country with this, we felt there were a lot of people who wanted to train in musical theatre who just haven’t got the money to relocate to London.

"We got talking and thought it would be more financially achievable to bring people from the West End up to Birmingham. An accelerated course over two years will allow us to pack in as much industry training as possible.”

The academy would look to rival the cost of training in London, with fees of £10,000 a year. Students will graduate with an associate diploma in performing musical theatre from Trinity College London. Williams added:

“For ambitious performers north of Watford Gap we know that our accelerated course, without the expensive living costs of London, will save students an absolute fortune and help to get them out into the industry and working sooner.” 

Williams said the course would include masterclasses from performers such as Julie Atherton, famous for roles in Mamma Mia, Fame and Avenue Q, and Ellis herself, who's credits include Les Miserables, Cats, Oliver, RENT and - most notably - over 6 years as Elphaba in Wicked. 

The course will be based in central Birmingham, and the premises will feature two studios and rehearsal rooms. Williams added that there would be a core staff of five, covering disciplines such as dance, singing and acting, and that he was keen to have guest tutors on the course who will mentor students.

“We would like to assign a student to a mentor for the entire course in the hope that they can help them when they come to graduate to sustain their career,” he said.


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