Join the likes of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie stars Layton Williams and John McCrea with training from Italia Conti, where students are taught to be triple threats in a family atmosphere. Paul Vale finds out more
Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts has an enviable reputation for excellence that has developed over its 106-year history. Famous graduates include Bonnie Langford, Pixie Lott, Daniel Mays, John McCrea, and Layton Williams, who is about to take over from McCrae in the West End production of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Once again, the academy is partnering with The Stage in 2019 to offer one full scholarship and several part scholarships at the famous school in central London. In total, this is an offer valued in excess of £65,000.
Italia Conti is one of the oldest performing arts training establishments of its kind. Yvonne Dearman is not only an ex-student, but a long-standing teacher and currently the admissions secretary at the academy.
“We have students in West End shows, from juniors right the way through to the older students and graduates in films and many TV series,” she says. “The children go from strength to strength while they’re here because they receive excellent training. There is also a real family atmosphere throughout the whole building. Visitors to the school always comment on the wonderful atmosphere and I suppose that stems from the fact Italia Conti has always been a family-run business.”
Andrew Parfitt was attending an Italia Conti Summer School when he discovered he had won a half scholarship in 2018.
“It’s really fun,” he says of his time at Italia Conti. “I love all the teachers and all the lessons. You really want to go when you get up in the morning, because it’s so much fun.”
Italia Conti is a triple-threat school providing classes in all disciplines – acting, singing and dancing. There are technique classes, musical production classes and ballet, contemporary and jazz classes.
“Conti’s very keen to ensure that students are well-trained academically as well as vocationally,” Dearman adds. “A lot of parents are very keen for them to get their GCSEs, and the children are lucky enough to have very small classes with experienced teachers that can get them through these exams.”
There are naturally plenty of chances to perform during your training, with regular internal workshops, and the students have their own special show at the end of each year.
“We have an outside choreographer,” Dearman enthuses, “who used to be one of our students, Richard Peakman, who has a great reputation in the industry. He auditions the students for the solo and specialist roles but, of course, everyone is in the show. This way students get used to auditioning straight away. And they do their own amazing show at the end of the year. ”
The audition process to gain entry to the school is quite intense, with hopeful applicants having to do a jazz technique class, ballet class, as well a dance solo, singing and drama solo. The whole audition panel will see them in action and gauge how quickly they pick things up in the classes.
“A lot of people apply for The Stage Scholarship,” Dearman explains. “So they have to be very good in all three of the disciplines. But, essentially, they need that extra spark that makes them stand out above the rest.”
Course: Italia Conti Theatre Arts.
Educational level: School age.
Number of scholarships offered: One full scholarship and several part scholarships.
Value of scholarship: More than £64,875.
What costs are covered? Fees.
Where is the school? Goswell Road, London EC1.
Likely audition date: February 20.
Audition requirements: Applicants will need to prepare two short acting pieces, lasting approximately one minute each, for the acting auditions. Ideally, three contrasting dance disciplines should be shown, for example, ballet, jazz and tap and a song, which can be in any style. There may also be tests in English and maths plus an interview by the principal, headteacher or their deputies following their audition. See the website for full details.
How to apply: Go to the Italia Conti website and click on The Stage Scholarship application form.