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Italia Conti: The theatre school tailoring training for every student

Italia Conti students performing in Bright Lights, Big City. Photo: Greg Good Italia Conti students performing in Bright Lights, Big City. Photo: Greg Good

Sam Tutty is just 21 years old, but he’s about to become one of the biggest stars on the London stage. When the hotly anticipated West End transfer of Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen opens next week, Tutty will be taking on the title role. It’s only his second professional part, and he’s landed it less than a year after graduating from esteemed performing arts institution Italia Conti.

“Everyone at Italia Conti is so proud of him,” says vice-principal and chief operating officer Hayley Newton-Jarvis. “He was a model student. He came in with a lack of experience in dance, but he made it his mission to become a triple-threat performer. We pride ourselves on nurturing the individual, and through sheer perseverance and hard work, he’s made it to the top straight away.”

Sam Tutty: Matt Crockett for Dewynters

Tutty isn’t the only Italia Conti student making waves in the industry right now. In January, Layton Williams, another recent graduate, took over the lead role in West End smash hit Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Both Tutty and Williams join an impressive list of Italia Conti alumni that stretches back more than a century and features such diverse luminaries as Russell Brand, Pixie Lott, Bonnie Langford, Daniel Mays and Noel Coward. Funnily enough, Tutty will be performing in Dear Evan Hansen at the Noel Coward Theatre – one Conti kid following in the footsteps of another.

“Our alumni are all so different,” says Newton-Jarvis. “We produce such an eclectic array of talent and that’s what makes Italia Conti special. We build on our students’ natural talent. We see potential in people, and we nurture and develop it. We see our students as individuals, and the proof is in the pudding. No two Italia Conti graduates are the same.”

Founded in 1911, Italia Conti can lay claim to being Britain’s oldest performing arts training institution. It has expanded from humble origins over the past century and now boasts three separate sites – at the Barbican in central London, Clapham and Guildford – as well as 13 associate schools across the country, everywhere from Plymouth to Tunbridge Wells.

“Whenever people come into one of our buildings, they’re blown away by the atmosphere,” says Newton-Jarvis “They cannot believe the energy, the enthusiasm and the electricity that is Italia Conti. Our training really is the best in the business, and the happiness of our students is at the heart of it.”

Tutty graduated from Italia Conti’s three-year diploma in professional musical theatre, but the institution has far more than that – from full-time, three-year degrees and diplomas in dance, acting and musical theatre, to comprehensive, full-time vocational education for those aged 11-16, to part-time training in evenings, weekends and holidays for everyone above the age of three at its associate schools. There really is something for everyone.

“We have a very broad selection of courses for all ages across the country,” says Newton-Jarvis. “But we keep things quite small. Some of our competitors take many students in, but we are quite selective. We pride ourselves on offering boutique-style training, so everyone gets an experience that’s personal and tailored to them and their needs – just like Sam did.”

“A Conti kid is trained not just for going on stage or appearing in films and television,” she continues. “They are trained for life. Many of our graduates have had extraordinary careers in the industry, but many have gone off and found success elsewhere – behind the scenes and beyond. And they say that Italia Conti gave them the confidence to do so.”

For more information on Italia Conti, visit italiaconti.com

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