Earlier we told you about how, for the first time ever, we’ve launched two new programs specifically for high school-aged students. Well today we want to talk about one of those programs: the High School Musical Theatre Training Program in London.…
Join peers your own age for musical theatre training in some of the West End’s most famous studios…the same studios where they rehearse the West End shows, all while living on the 150-acre grounds of a Harry Potter-style boarding school founded in 1553, the Tonbridge School in Kent.
You will take classes in acting, singing, dance, audition techniques, and stage combat, and participate in workshops of West End shows led by current West End cast members. You will see at least one show per week as a group, giving you the unique opportunity to see your instructors on stage performing the exact choreography and scenes you have been working on in the studio!
Each week features a full-day excursion, including a visit to the home of the British Royal Family at their residence in Windsor Castle, a trip to Cambridge including a stop at the renowned university at the heart of the charming city, and two trips to famous London landmarks and sites such as Trafalgar Square, Downing Street, Horse Guards Parade, Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey.
To view and download a list of some of the instructors that have taught on this program in the past, please click here.
As participants for this program are under 18, safety through support and supervision is our number one concern. Our London partners, Bucksmore Education at the Tonbridge School in Kent, have decades of experience supporting teens on programming specifically designed for their age group. We will also be providing a Performing Arts Abroad Group Leader who will greet you at the airport upon arrival, accompany the group on all activities, and will be available 24 hours for support.
“My time in London was absolutely incredible. I learned so much that I wouldn’t have been able to learn back home or anywhere else. Besides doing what I love and working with professionals I also got to share my passion with the wonderful people I met through the program. Not only from the U.S, but Germany, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, Finland, Australia, and Hong Kong. Being able to have experienced so much in three short weeks was amazing and I encourage anyone interested to do it.”
Performing Arts Points of Interest
The Rivoli Ballroom is one of the last remaining ballrooms preserved in the 1950s style architecture. The ballroom attracts an eccentric, enthusiastic crowd looking for a fun night of dancing and dressing up from “night out” clothes to David Copperfield inspired costumes. Open infrequently to the pubic, check the website and Facebook to find out their next event.
The Rivoli Ballroom has been a location for many TV shows, movies, and music videos. Musicians such as Kings of Leon, Florence and the Machine, and The White Stripes have used the ballroom for music videos and gigs.
Hailed as one of the most exciting, innovative dance spaces The Place, is a space that houses the London Contemporary Dance School, the Richard Alston Dance Company, and a 280 seat theatre. The Place offers classes, workshops, and other professional development opportunities for artists young and old. Performances are open to the public year round as well as festivals and special events. The Place is a member of the European Dancehouse Network aimed to support UK artists.
One of the many famous West End theatres, Queen’s Theatre is in the Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square area of London. The theatre is most notable for housing the world famous musical Les Miserables since 2004 after its run at the Palace Theatre for 19 years prior.
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
The Globe Theatre was built in 1599 by William Shakespeare’s company the “Lord Chamberlin’s Men” and was rebuilt in 1614 after a fire destroyed the original. The latest version of the theatre, renamed “Shakespeare’s Globe,” opened in 1997. Travel back in time and attend a Shakespeare play in the unique open-air theatre.
English National Ballet
The English National Ballet is one of the four major ballet companies in Great Britain alongside The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, and the Scottish Ballet. The company employs an internationally diverse group of dancers and a symphony orchestra known as the English National Ballet Philharmonic. The company has performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London as well as international tours. The English National Ballet offers classes ranging from beginner to advance as well as dance workshops.
Royal Court Theatre
Hailed by the New York Times as “the most important theatre in Europe,” the Royal Court Theatre is located next to the Sloane Square Station. The theatre is known for being a huge proponent and supporter of local playwrights in order to cultivate an authentic, diverse selection of plays for the public.
“The undisputed epicenter of new writing in this country.” -Time Out
“It’s hard not to rave about the Royal Court.” -Guardian
PAA Home Base
Your headquarters for this program will be at the internationally-renowned Tonbridge School in Kent, and your musical theatre training will be in London studios such as Pineapple and Danceworks where they hold auditions and rehearsals for West End shows.
Founded in 1553, internationally-renowned Tonbridge School is one of the most exclusive schools in the UK and is a member of the elite ‘Eton Group’ association of independent colleges. The prestigious school enjoys stunning grounds and high-quality teaching facilities, providing a world-class learning environment. The 150 acre site also includes a state-of-the-art sports centre, comprising a swimming pool, sports hall, squash courts, tennis courts, AstroTurf and athletics track.
About the Location
London is one of the most renowned cities for musical theatre on the planet, and the West End is at the epicenter. Perhaps no other area in the world can boast the quality and variety of musical theatre performances as you will find in the theaters of the West End, such as the famous Lyceum Theatre, London Palladium, and Apollo Victoria Theatre, which seats over 2,500 people.
London’s energy is contagious and will have you hooked as soon as you step off the plane. In addition to the vibrant theatre scene, you will have the opportunity to explore the cultural, historical, and political landmarks of the city and other nearby sites with other participants and the PAA Group Leader. From London Bridge to Big Ben, learn what it means to call London home. The abundance of theatre groups and organizations, and the reasonable price of theatre tickets (especially compared to everything else in the city!) makes this a worthwhile destination for even a short visit, and the ideal place for a training program in musical theatre.
Your residence during the program will be at the Tonbridge School in Kent, which is an international boarding school during the school year and host to a variety of international programming like ours during the summers. The 150-acre campus features a state-of-the-art sports centre, including a swimming pool, sports hall, squash courts, tennis courts, AstroTurf and athletics track. The buildings are over 500 years old and the atmosphere is reminiscent of Hogwarts from Harry Potter. Historic traditions of the boarding school during the standard school year permit the Headmaster to carry a sword, and even allow him to graze his sheep next to the cricket pitch! Below are some highlights of your new home in England:
Get ready to call the extraordinary Tonbridge School in Kent your home for this musical theatre abroad program! Founded in 1553, the school enjoys stunning grounds and high-quality teaching facilities, providing a world-class learning environment. The 150 acre site also includes a state-of-the-art sports centre, comprising a swimming pool, sports hall, squash courts, tennis courts, AstroTurf and athletics track.
Your accommodations will be in single and twin bedrooms with bathrooms shared between 4 – 6 students. Shared common areas in the boarding house include table tennis, table football (foosball), and an indoor cinema! WiFi is available throughout the campus and the location is a safe and secure countryside location with PIN code access to campus buildings and electronic access to the boarding houses. Linens are provided (but not towels, so plan to bring your own), laundry is available free of charge, and all meals are included with packed lunches on excursion days. Below is a sample menu:
Rooms will be assigned upon arrival with a mix of single and twin rooms. We will take rooming requests, but there is no guarantee we can honor them. If you are in a twin room, your roommate will be another program participant of the same sex. One exciting component of this program is the diversity in nationalities who participate! In the past, there have been participants from many different countries, including the United States, Australia, Singapore, Germany, Finland, Denmark, United Kingdom, Italy, France, China, Spain, and many more! Just last year, 28 nationalities were represented on the campus throughout the summer!
A Day in the Life
The Participant Experience
You wake up to the sunlight streaming into your room and rise to look out the window onto the grounds of the 16th century castle you are calling home this summer. Your roommate is already packing a bag for the day, and you can’t wait to get started with your training. Your morning will be spent taking classes at your level in acting, singing, dancing, stage combat, audition techniques, and puppetry, and your afternoon will focus on workshopping scenes from famous musicals with members of the current casts on the West End. In the middle of the week, you will get an exclusive backstage tour of a West End theatre, and tickets to a show where you will see some of your instructors performing on stage. And don’t forget the masterclasses such as performing a song or monologue for agents and casting directors, followed by a Q&A with a London theatre professional! And tomorrow, you’ll join your Group Leader and other students on a visit to the Royal Family’s residence at the world-famous Windsor Castle. Is this real life???
The skills you gain from this program’s training are only the beginning. You will also walk away with a much deeper knowledge of the theatre industry in London, and what it takes to be a professional performer at a high level. The friendships you form during your time in the UK will truly last your entire life, and the connections you make will inform your artform for many years to come.
You will book your flight to arrive at Heathrow Airport in London (LHR) between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on the arrival date. Your Group Leader will be waiting at a pre-arranged meeting point where the group will gather. Once the last person reaches the meeting point (around 1:00 p.m.), the Group Leader will travel with all of you to the beautiful grounds of your new home for the program, the Tonbridge School in Kent. You will have the afternoon to settle in and explore the 150 acres of countryside including state-of-the-art sports centre, comprising a swimming pool, sports hall, squash courts, tennis courts, AstroTurf and athletics track. The evening will feature Welcome Games and a BBQ where you will meet the students from all over the world who have come here for various programs and the counselors who are there to support you throughout the summer.
A Typical Day
Each week will follow a similar flow, and you have the option of joining for one, two, three, or four weeks. Below is a sample timetable for a typical week, and note that the Saturday full-day excursion will be different every week with visits to Windsor Castle, Cambridge, and various sites in London:
The West End is London’s equivalent of Broadway, and arguably even more prestigious. Our program’s founder—herself an experienced West End performer having appeared in many shows including Les Misérables, the Sound of Music, and Billy Elliot coupled with extensive work on BBC television—heads a team of instructors who have in-depth experience performing as well as teaching. You will be working with some of the most accomplished stage actors in the world, as well as highly skilled dancers, stage combat instructors, and other staff working through the West End’s education and outreach programs. For the workshops of West End shows, your instructors will have been or will currently be performing in that very show. In some cases, you will see your instructors perform in the show you are working on the same day you have the workshop! Classes are held in West End studios, and you will be provided with tickets to shows, and a backstage tour of one of the West End theaters.
Founder and Executive Director
Reynolds graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis in 2008 with a degree in Theater and African and African American Studies. For an honors thesis Reynolds filmed, edited, and produced a full-length documentary in Kenya with Haba na Haba, a group using performance for education and social change in the slums of Nairobi. This project earned him the Forum on Education Abroad Undergraduate Research Award. A year later, Reynolds organized a trip to bring Haba na Haba to the United States for a tour of St. Louis and Washington University. Immediately after graduation, Reynolds worked in Rwanda as a filmmaker for Millennium Congregations, an interfaith organization connecting communities of faith in the United States with development projects in Rwanda’s Bugesera District. Reynolds then served two years with Teach for America, teaching in the South Bronx and receiving a Masters Degree in Education from Hunter College. He completed a second graduate degree in African Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington, and his Masters thesis focused on the impact of donors on the creative process of Theatre for Development (TfD) groups in Kenya.
Reynolds has traveled extensively in Africa, spending time in Ghana, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also studied acting, voice, and movement at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Reynolds is a two-time Rhodes Scholarship finalist, the inaugural recipient of the Dred and Harriet Scott Award for the Advancement of Human Rights, and the winner of two research fellowships. He was also a Dialogue Fellow for the Xenia Institute, has twice served as the co-director for the Roosevelt Institution’s International Diplomacy Center (Washington University branch), and was president of the Graduate Students of African Studies (GSAS) at Indiana University.
Reynolds lives in Northampton, MA with his wife Julia who is a professional costume designer and his daughter Lily who is a cute baby. In his free time Reynolds likes to play his guitar, go hiking, act in local productions, hit the karaoke bars, sing with his dog Captain (the best doggy singer in the universe), and play various yard games such as KanJam, cornhole, “cups”, and Kubb.
London Program Director, Musical Theatre
Rachel leads the training component of our London musical theatre programs. She books studios, hires instructors, coordinates the training schedule, and books tickets for West End shows and backstage tours.
Rachel Bingham is a West End performer and the director of West End On Demand, PAA’s musical theatre training partner in London.
Rachel started dancing at a local dance school at age 3 and it wasn’t long before singing and acting followed. After watching Les Miserables in the West End when she was 10 years old she knew that this was what she wanted to do with her life. She wrote in her diary that her dream was to be in Les Miserables and she was happy to play any part, including the barricade! Rachel then immersed herself in theatre, listening to theatre soundtracks, taking part in lots of local shows and school productions as well as continuing classes. At age 19 Rachel attended the Mountview Academy Of Theatre Arts one of the most prestigious musical theatre colleges in London and from there she got her agent Gilbert And Payne Management and her career began. Rachel has now been working in the theatre industry for 13 years and her dream came true – she was cast in Les Miserables in the West End for two years as Crone, ensemble and first understudy Madame Thenarider.
Rachel’s work includes: Les Miserables (West End), Les Miserables 25th Anniversary (O2 Arena), Billy Elliot (West End), The Sound Of Music (West End), Acorn Antiques The Musical (UK Tour), She Loves Me (Menier Chocolate Factory, London), Jerry Springer The Opera (UK Tour), That Day We Sang (Victoria Wood, Manchester), BBC Proms, London Olympic Opening Ceremony, plus much more. Rachel has also worked in television and as a recording artist.
Rachel started West End On Demand in 2009 as she wanted to share her passion for performing arts with others and encourage people of all ages to feel more confidant and follow their dreams.
Just one unforgettable experience. I made friends for life and I discovered what kind of path I want to make in my career. I also discovered things about myself I didn’t know before. I wish it never ended.
“Thanks to PAA, I was able to travel to a city I’ve always wanted to go to, to do what I love most. Along the way, I met some amazing people,watched some beautiful pieces of theatre, crossed a number of things off of my bucket list, and made some lifelong friends.”
“I was blown away with this program-especially the instructors hired through the West End on Demand program. I enjoyed the diversity of the students and the free time to see shows or explore the city in the evenings.”
From the blog
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How it Works
The information on this page provides details for a sample group program. Note that every group is different, and we will work with you to cater the experience to your group. To connect with us and begin organizing a program for your group, please follow the “Get Started’ button below and submit an initial questionnaire. We will then contact you to set up a discovery call where we can go into more detail about your group’s needs and what we can offer.