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Lowestoft venue to take centre stage

PUBLISHED: 15:30 09 January 2009 | UPDATED: 22:10 05 July 2010

A performing arts school in Lowestoft is offering a unique opportunity for talented young people hoping to forge out a career on the stage or screen.

The Venue of Performing Arts' foundation course is the first of its kind in this area and will give 16-year-olds and over vital and intensive training to help them reach standards required to apply for theatre college - without having the upheaval of leaving home.

A performing arts school in Lowestoft is offering a unique opportunity for talented young people hoping to forge out a career on the stage or screen.

The Venue of Performing Arts' foundation course is the first of its kind in this area and will give 16-year-olds and over vital and intensive training to help them reach standards required to apply for theatre college - without having the upheaval of leaving home.

The school is owned and run by husband and wife team Libby Newton and Phil Hawkins, who have first-hand knowledge of working in musical theatre and performing arts, having toured extensively on the circuit from young ages.

They met after taking jobs as principal singers at Potters Leisure in Hopton and both continue to combine their own careers with running The Venue of Performing Arts, after deciding there was a void in the market for a college specifically for young people to develop and hone their skills.

Phil said: “We noticed various kids who came to Potters had great voices, but saw there was a void in where they could develop and progress when they got to 16.

“There's so much talent around here, but they don't know where to go when they hit 16 and that's why we have decided to provide the foundation course.”

Each full-time course lasts for six months and the Venue is priding itself on offering extremely competitive rates.

As well as focusing on dance, singing and drama, the lucky pupils will also receive training in anatomy and physiology, private lessons to develop their audition skills and be encouraged to take external exams.

They will also get the chance to meet West End stars, who are friends of Phil and Libby, record their own CD and have their own portfolio made.

From its inception in a studio above the old Pyramid Lounge in Bridge Road, Oulton Broad, the Venue has grown to populate a huge building, also incorporating a production company in School Road.

Libby began dancing at the tender age of five and her credits include stints as a backing dancer for Robbie Williams and Barry Manilow's Copacabana tour. Currently, she manages shows for Saga and Cunard cruises.

Phil worked as a professional musician and session vocalist and has taken parts in theatre shows such as Me and My Girl and The Bill for ITV.

Both are graduates of Masters Performing Arts College run by Wendy Headford.

Phil was lucky enough to get his own break when he was given a scholarship by the industry stalwart.

And she now plays a huge part in the fortunes of many of his own students coming to the Venue's end-of-year show and selecting performers she wishes to audition for her.

“We're still in the industry and we understand it's ever changing, we know the current trends and the effects they have on the kids,” said Phil.

Eight people have successfully auditioned for the first foundation course which kicks off this month, but Phil and Libby are now on the lookout for future participants

As well as the foundation course, the Venue also holds a variety of classes for all ages and all abilities, including vocal coaching, audition techniques, an adult choir and private lessons for individual genres.

A six-month course costs £1,500 plus VAT. Entry is by audition only and every participant must be aged 16 or over.

If you are interested, telephone the Venue on 01502 573000.


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