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MTA students performing

The Musical Theatre Academy sets itself apart from other drama schools with its exceptional pastoral care, its teaching staff of industry professionals and securing professional representation for all graduates

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Musical Theatre Academy has established itself as a first-choice vocational training college with its intensive training programme.

Twice awarded The Stage’s school of the year (in 2012 and 2017), MTA pioneered the two-year vocational course offering considerable savings – in fees and living expenses – to students and has championed mental health awareness and pastoral care. Since its launch in 2016, its #time4change charter has seen nearly 130 organisations sign up in support. Next year, it will launch signed performances during its productions.

It is the only vocational college with a policy of employing teaching staff who are working in the industry, to offer a 50-50 split between stage and screen teaching and guarantee public performances in all eight terms.

All of which, principal Annemarie Lewis Thomas says, adds up to an unmatched opportunity to learn in a real-world environment.

“Our students are taught by people who are doing it themselves, often going on to a West End performance after giving a class,” she says. “It means our teaching is informed by current practice and awareness of a fast-changing industry’s needs and demands.”

Students perform in an MTA show

With class sizes limited to 22, students can be sure of individual attention and teaching tailored to their skills and potential.

“We monitor our students on a daily basis so nobody falls by the wayside. Everyone receives the attention they need.”

With an unrivalled commitment to student well-being – two staff are on call around the clock – MTA claims to be “a college for life”.

Lewis Thomas explains: “Graduates get access to free rehearsal spaces, free classes and professional and emotional support for life with a qualified mental health clinician.”

Students receive some of the most generous contact teaching hours in the industry – a minimum of 40 every week across its 40-week year – and access to the bountiful resources of the MTA’s home, the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in London’s Tottenham Green.

MTA students performing

“Dedicated acting and dance studios, a soundproofed ‘pod’ and a fully equipped gym are available every day and are free.”

All of which translates into an unbeatable offering for students looking for good value and determined to hit the ground running when they complete the course. All 143 graduates from its first decade have secured professional agency representation, with 2019’s leavers signed up four months before graduation.

Of those 143 graduates, more than three-quarters are active in the industry with nearly a quarter having been employed on West End or tour contracts. Others have performed on the world’s most luxurious liners.

“This year we had a Madame Marble (Wicked), an Eponine (Les Miserables), a Rocky (Rocky Horror Show), a Corny Collins (Hairspray) for Royal Caribbean Cruises, and someone making their debut with New York’s Blue Man Group.”

Such results, Lewis Thomas adds, point to the MTA’s ability to produce multi-disciplinary industry-ready in-demand performers.

“Working equals success. Whether it’s on land or at sea, in the West End, the regions or on tour, on stage or screen, an actor who is working is a successful actor. And we aim to produce successful actors.”

Applicants audition via the academy’s innovative #auditionfromhome scheme, which invites self-recorded audition tapes, and intensive, full-day auditions – both of which are free, with participants receiving a decision the same day.


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