Ruthie Henshall has announced plans to open CAST, a new drama school offering a three-year diploma in Musical Theatre Industry Preparation; with its first intake in September 2023.
Alongside the core performance skills of singing, acting & dancing, the course will offer students opportunities to develop additional life skills to ensure that they are fully equipped for a lasting and versatile career in the entertainment industry; honing in on their unique individual strengths and offering bespoke guidance on career pathways.
A successful career in arts doesn’t just rely on high-level on-stage training, it is also important that young performers are equipped with all the skills needed to be successful off stage.
Henshall has pulled in a variety of industry icons to develop the project and says, “the world is changing, as is the industry. A major part of our training at CAST is about staying relevant within a business that continues to shift daily. I am lucky enough to have been able to call on an illustrious panel of rising stars and musical theatre legends to develop a course and ethos that best serves our students as they start their journeys in this new world. Our “Icons” will remain at the heart of what we do, whether this is offering their invaluable personal experiences to inform our curriculum or teaching regular workshops and taking Q&A’s, making them part of our extended faculty.
We want our students to have the opportunity to work alongside, to learn and to grow with a team of talented, successful, and extraordinary artists. Who better to guide them than the people who are currently working in the industry that they aspire to join”
Leading CAST Icon, Claude Michel Schonberg (Composer of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon), has pledged to run termly masterclasses with students, in person, and has said about the course, “only practical experience in our industry can give you a complete understanding of what it takes to succeed and sustain a career in the world of musical theatre. With strong ties to industry professionals and Ruthie at the helm, this is what CAST will offer all its students.”
Stephen Mear CBE (2005 Olivier winner for choreography, Mary Poppins), another CAST icon, has said, “for me, inspiring the next generation of performers and offering the support and skills to help them on their journey is essential. CAST are offering a really special provision that will help to create both amazing performers and also happy, successful freelancers in our industry.
After the last few years, there has never been a better time to reassess the balance and focus on the future of our industry.”
CAST will be located outside London, in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and is the brainchild of Ruthie Henshall and her long-time business partner & Musical Supervisor, Paul Schofield. They have drafted in the experienced educator, Gary Willis (creator of numerous, successful drama programs in both Europe and the US) to head up the academic in-house staff.
Gary Willis says, “this project is thrilling! I have long believed it is vital that training changes to match the needs of the art form if it is to survive. We have a unique opportunity to craft a qualification which is relevant, not dated, dynamic, not stilted and free to change quickly, unencumbered by the restrictions of academia. Trained by current leading professionals and catering to each individual artist, ensuring that what makes them unique will truly shine!
Our cohort may be drawn from anywhere in the world and must be diverse to reflect the world we live in and create on stage. CAST will be exceptional and CAST students with live out loud.”
CAST takes a different approach from most drama schools and feels strongly that students should continue to perform publicly during their training, thus learning to manage the goals and pressures of performance which is essential to their development.
An hour and a half outside of London, CAST will allow its artists the privacy to develop their skills and perform to audiences without feeling like they are exposed to the industry at large. Each year will be punctuated by a final performance in a professional venue with final 3rd year performances taking place in a London theatre.
Ruthie Henshall’s stage credits include: A Chorus Line (UK Tour); Cats (West End); Miss Saigon (West End, Broadway); Children of Eden (Cadogan Hall); Valentine’s Day, Divorce Me, Darling, Sisterhood (Chichester Festival); Les Misérables (Palace Theatre, Royal Albert Hall); Crazy For You (Prince Edward Theatre – nominated for an Olivier Award for her performance); Oliver! (London Palladium); She Loves Me (Savoy Theatre – winning the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical). Chicago (Original West End company – nominated for her third Olivier Award, Broadway company); Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 (Broadway) The Vagina Monologues, The Other Woman (Broadway); Peggy Sue Got Married (West End – her fourth Olivier nomination); Fosse (UK Tour); The Woman In White (West End); Marguerite (West End – her fifth Olivier nomination); Blithe Spirit (West End); Billy Elliot (Victoria Palace Theatre – Her performance was broadcast in cinemas around the world, with the live broadcast topping the UK and Ireland box office.) Stephen Sondheim’s Passion (Hope Mill Theatre).
Ruthie will soon be appearing as the Wicked Queen at the legendary Wimbledon Theatre Pantomime in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for this Christmas.
Her television credits include: Doctors (BBC); Wizards vs Aliens (BBC); Valery in The Case (BBC); Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO); Law & Order (NBC); The Mysteries of 71st Street (NBC); The Sound of Musicals (BBC); Dancing On Ice (ITV); I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here (ITV), and Stephen Sondheim’s Putting It Together (TV Movie).
Her cast recordings include: I’ve Loved These Days; Pilgrim; The Ruthie Henshall Album; Love Is Here To Stay; Chicago; She Loves Me; Crazy For You; Les Misérables; The Children of Eden and I Love Musicals.
In demand as a concert performer, Ruthie has toured extensively in the UK, USA and Australia. Ruthie’s book So You Want To Be In Musicals was released in 2012.