Stage 100 Awards 2012: School of the year
As nominations open for the 2013 awards, we shine the spotlight on this year's winners. To nominate an organisation for The Stage 100 Awards 2013, click here
School of the year 2012: Musical Theatre Academy
Who's in charge?
Annemarie Lewis Thomas, principal
Why did they win?
"The panel is keen to reward pluck alongside excellence and the Musical Theatre Academy has both these credentials in spades. Set up by Annemarie Lewis Thomas, the MTA offers two-year training courses rather than the traditional three-year format and aims to fast track its students into the industry. Lewis Thomas’ first cohort of students graduated in 2011.
All of them have agent representation and, within one month of graduating, they had all secured at least one professional job or gig. These are the kind of statistics that the most established drama schools aim for – let alone a newcomer. The MTA also has a policy of only employing staff who are still actively working in the industry. Deciding to adopt this strategy as a fledgling school could not have been easy, but demonstrates the professionalism of the enterprise, forging an active link between the students and the sector from the outset. Within just a few years of opening, Lewis Thomas and her team have established themselves as a new force in drama training that is not afraid to approach things differently. The panel unanimously wanted to recognise their vision with this award."
What have they been up to since winning?
Again, 100% of MTA's graduates gained agent representation on leaving college during 2012. On average at any given point in the year MTA has seen 70% of its graduates employed or with a contract pending.
[pullquote]Winning the school of the year award really made potential students sit up and notice us, and we saw our applications nearly triple[/pullquote]
Students have been invited to perform in professional gigs such as an Evening with Chris Passey at the Leicester Square Theatre, Kieran Brown’s Big Fat Cabaret and the Songwriters Union (both at the Union Theatre), while eight students performed in cabaret at the London Hippodrome for Sim G Productions, 17 of them were the featured ensemble in the Mercury Musical Development Gala at the Novello Theatre and, in November, the entire college provided the chorus for the Tommy concert at the Prince Edward Theatre. In addition to that, eight students were chosen to perform on the concept album of Lift by Craig Adams (soon to be seen at the Soho Theatre).
In September, MTA was awarded charity status and it also hosted its second graduation ceremony, once again in the presence of its patrons Stiles and Drewe.
In October, 22 new students joined the shcool – giving the MTA its first full year group. Meanwhile, during 2012, MTA has also introduced its ‘after-care’ programme, so all graduates are invited back to have at least six free dance classes per week, to ensure that they maintain their skills base, along with ongoing pastoral and professional development support.
What they say about their Stage 100 Award
Annemarie Lewis Thomas: "The MTA has had yet another ground breaking year. Winning the school of the year award really made potential students sit up and notice us, and we saw our applications nearly triple, as we now had a ‘stamp of approval’ 2012 has been pretty much non-stop for us (as usual)"
To nominate an organisation for The Stage 100 Awards 2013, click here