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Where can I train for a career in musical theatre?

Musical theatre students at ArtsEd. Photo: Robert Workman Musical theatre students at ArtsEd. Photo: Robert Workman
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Students looking to become triple threats have no shortage of training options. Samantha Marsden looks at what is available – from evening courses and intensive diplomas to bachelors and masters degrees

When it comes to training in musical theatre the range of opportunities is vast. With more professional training courses popping up outside of London, it’s also increasingly possible to train without the high costs of living in the capital. Here is a selection of the range of options available.

Laine Theatre Arts

Location: Epsom, Surrey

Students work with world-class, award-winning choreographers and industry professionals. The school offers foundation courses, diplomas and a BA (hons) in musical theatre.

Laine alumni include Ruthie Henshall, Louise Dearman, Kerry Ellis, Summer Strallen, Matt Croke and Caroline Deverill.

Graduate Matt Flint, choreographer, presenter and performer says: “The training at Laine Theatre Arts is second to none. It allows you to dream, makes you believe and helps you to achieve.”


Laine Theatre Arts students. Photo: Jeremy Gasman
Laine Theatre Arts students. Photo: Jeremy Gasman


Arts Educational

Location: Chiswick, London

ArtsEd offers a BA (hons) degree in musical theatre, a full-time foundation course and a part-time course in musical theatre.

Last year’s graduates secured key roles in West End productions including Hamilton, Les Miserables, Dreamgirls, On the Town, Wicked, Hairspray and Motown.

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Chris Hocking, principal and director of the school of musical theatre, says: “ArtsEd is at the cutting edge of musical theatre training. We encourage individuality, equality, inclusivity and diversity. We are training the next generation of performers who will be equipped to deal with the demands and challenges of an ever-changing industry.”


SLP College

Location: Leeds

SLP is a musical theatre college that offers training as a Trinity level six diploma or as a foundation course.

The school prides itself on personalising training to the individual needs of students; class and year sizes are kept small so that teachers can tailor the training to each student. The diploma has two pathways, one in acting and the other in dance. Students perform in regular full-scale productions throughout their training and perform in a London showcase at the end of their training.

Daniel Eyre, a first-year student, explains: “The teachers know you for you, you’re not just a number, they know exactly what you need to work on to be the best you can be.”


American Musical Theatre Academy

Location: London and Belfast

In September AMTA Belfast will begin its full-time, musical theatre two-year training programme and one-year professional development programme. Offered at almost half the cost of similar London programmes, it promises to offer the same quality training as its academies in London, New York and Rome.

Principal Kenneth Avery-Clark says: “I want young people to be able to realise their dreams. Musical theatre is an international industry and everyone who wants to be a part of it should be able to receive quality training on their doorstep.”

AMTA graduates work all over the world and include Karis Jack, who is currently starring as Eponine in Les Miserables in the West End.


The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Location: Glasgow

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland offers both undergraduate and postgraduate musical theatre programmes and attracts students from around the world.

MA musical theatre students present a season of work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe every year, including a main stage musical theatre production. The MA has three pathways – performance, musical directing and choreography (subject to validation).

The BA (hons) offers the same three pathways and has been designed to ensure graduates are equipped with the necessary skills needed by the profession.


The University of Chichester

Location: Chichester

The university offers a BA (hons) Musical Theatre (Triple Threat) degree course, which is a conservatoire-style offer with high contact hours and industry-based training. It includes fully staged productions and a London showcase for agents and theatre practitioners.

Mark Ward, director for leading West End agency Belfield and Ward, says: “Of the training and the productions I have seen over the years, it has been astonishing how quickly its students have raised the bar every year to meet the high standards set by other training establishments. This course is on our watch list as a place we recognise as providing the training needed for the level of actor we seek to represent.”


University of Chichester students. Photo: Andrew Worsford
University of Chichester students. Photo: Andrew Worsford


The University of Central Lancashire

Location: Preston

The University of Central Lancashire offers a BA (hons) in Music Theatre with two main strands: musical theatre training and making new music theatre performances.

Graduate Bradley Judge says: “Studying music theatre at UCLan gave me the foundations and technical knowledge to succeed in the world of musical theatre, while being taught by influential industry professionals. Although musical theatre is at the forefront of the course, it also provides experience and understanding in other forms such as devising and immersive theatre. Since leaving the course I have continued to work professionally and I’m very thankful for the skills I acquired at UCLan.”


A beginner’s guide to applying for drama school

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

Location: Cardiff

The MA musical theatre course at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama was established to provide future professionals with a range of industry-relevant training.

Head of musical theatre Vivien Care explains: “Professional musical theatre is an ever-evolving form. Survival in today’s industry depends on being able to adapt vital technical skills across the disciplines and their truthful execution to an increasing variety of contexts. Good vocational training cultivates and embeds professional practices for a career.”


Musical Theatre Academy

Location: Holloway Road, London

MTA offers a two-year intensive programme focused on getting students industry-ready. The school won school of the year at the The Stage Awards in 2017.

Leo Elso, who graduated in 2012 and is currently in The Grinning Man, says: “MTA is the sole reason I’m in the West End right now. As I’m a foreign student, they refused to just take my money and let me go back home. They insisted I’d get training that would allow me to work in the UK and gave me extra accent lessons for free.”


Other notable schools offering musical theatre training include:

Arden School of Theatre
Associated Studios
Bird College
Buckinghamshire College Group
Emil Dale Studios
Guildford School of Acting
Italia Conti Academy of Performing Arts
London School of Musical Theatre
Midlands Academy of Musical Theatre
Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
Read College
Royal Academy of Music
Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
Southampton Solent University
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
The University of Surrey
The University of Winchester
Urdang Academy

Look for training opportunities on The Stage website

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