When it comes to finding the right theatre summer school, you are spoilt for choice. From the National Youth Theatre to the American Academy, there’s an array of excellent schools and courses around the world.
However, with its calibre of teaching, unparalleled facilities and endless opportunities, there’s one that stands head and shoulders above the rest. In just 12 years, it’s no wonder West End Stage has proudly established itself as the UK’s leading theatre summer school.
Its exciting seven-day musical theatre course for eight to 21-year-olds gives students the unique opportunity to be taught by the West End’s biggest stars, watch a top West End show and perform on the West End in their very own showcase at Her Majesty’s Theatre.
The summer school is located on the doorstep of London’s West End and all its tutors are current working West End professionals, helping to inspire and motivate students to follow in their footsteps. The opportunity to work with teachers of such high pedigree is unlike that at any other school in the country.
Throughout the week, students take part in daily lessons in singing, dancing and acting, as well as masterclasses in an array of industry specific skills, from audition technique and puppetry to stage combat and acting for screen. These skills help young performers build on their talent and nurture their confidence to bring out the best in them, both on and off the stage.
Situated in the heart of London, West End Stage has fantastic links to the performing arts industry. The stars that run masterclasses and take part in surprise performances for the students have included Alistair Brammer and Eva Noblezada, who are currently leading the Broadway cast of Miss Saigon, as well as official patron and first lady of the West End Kerry Ellis.
West End Stage has a number of successful alumni, most notably Paul Wilkins, who is currently playing Marius in the West End’s Les Miserables.
Throughout the week, casting directors and agents are invited to the school to drop in on rehearsals and scout out the talent. In 2016, 22 students from West End Stage were approached for auditions for top West End shows, with two successfully landing roles in the School of Rock and Matilda.
To apply for the course, no audition process is necessary. The only prerequisite for joining West End Stage is enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. All the students are grouped according to age and experience, so each student is challenged according to his or her abilities and has a unique and tailored experience. The students range in experience from those who have never set foot on a stage before and just want to have a taster of the magic of the West End, to those who have been acting, singing and dancing for years and are determined to start a career in this competitive industry.
To get a taste of exactly what goes on, you can check out the pictures and videos on West End Stage’s website (see link below) and social media YouTube channels.
Beginning in 2006 with just 45 students, West End Stage has grown phenomenally in size and stature. More than 900 students now flock from all over the world for three separate weeks of intense musical theatre training.
Based at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama at London’s Barbican, of which past students include Orlando Bloom, Daniel Craig and Ewan McGregor, West End Stage has access to some of the finest performing arts facilities in the world. The state-of-the-art studios and professional performances spaces allow the students to get the absolute most out of their week’s training.
The finale of the week is the students’ West End performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre – one of Theatreland’s most iconic theatres and home to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s world-famous The Phantom of the Opera. Not only do students get a taste for the rehearsal and performance process for a professional West End production, but this also teaches them the value of commitment and teamwork as they work together to present an unforgettable show for family, friends and invited industry professionals.
One of the highlights of the week is the midweek trip to see a top West End musical. In previous years, students have seen shows such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera. On occasion, students are also treated to an exclusive Q&A with the stars of the show on stage, to gain insights into as many industry tips and tricks as possible.
West End Stage offers three separate weeks in August, giving extra flexibility of dates to students applying. Many of the students stay in fully catered onsite accommodation provided at the school’s halls of residence. Each student has their own room complete with single bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers and washbasin, in a same-sex shared flat with up to five other students their own age.
Throughout the week, students are kept busy with extra evening activities and masterclasses. These include workshops, cabaret performances, quizzes, a disco, a shopping trip to Covent Garden and surprise guest performances.
Accommodation is fully catered, with chaperoning, CCTV and security operating 24/7. It is one of the safest and most supportive environments a young theatre enthusiast can wish for.
The application process is very simple. Head to the West End Stage website (see below), which has all the course details as well as lots of photos and videos of what the students get up to.
If you have any questions, West End Stage’s friendly office team will be more than happy to chat to you on 0207 8367947, or send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit westendstage.com/summer-school.php