mt news story 21A college course which has proved a stepping-stone to stardom for performers in some of the West End's biggest shows has been shortlisted for a leading national award.

Northampton College's Level 3 Musical Theatre course is a finalist in the Excellence in Musical Theatre' category of the coveted 2021 Music and Drama Education Awards.

The awards are recognition of the hard work and innovation that has gone into running a successful course amid the complications and challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown ' maintaining a high-quality education while working remotely from home and without the usual studio space.

Voice and singing teacher Natalie Evans said: The past year has been difficult, especially for the arts, with many of our past and present students facing a huge void in their progression within the professional world. It's been an incredibly tough period so to get this recognition is a huge boost for all of us.

The switch to remote learning has certainly been a challenge as so much of the course is, by its very nature, performance-based with students working closely together. But rather than shy away from it we have all dived headfirst into making the very best of it and coming up with new ways to make it work.

As an alternative to our year end practical showcase, which was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID, our students created a virtual choir, recording a stunning cover version of Somewhere over the Rainbow' from their homes. This offered a ray of hope and support to all those struggling through the first national lockdown.

The video proved a viral social media smash, receiving international acclaim.

Having been approached by course leader Suzanne Lewis, several former students agreed to take part in exclusive online masterclass' sessions throughout lockdown, passing on their experience to the next generation of West End stars.

Suzanne added: Our former students are always happy to return to the college because of the excellence of teaching and support they received. I have led the course since 2002 and to receive this recognition now is outstanding, it's come at the perfect time and has given us all a real lift.

Pat Brennan-Barrett, principal of Northampton College, added: Our course is typically a stepping-stone to stardom. We have former students currently billed in Cats, Aladdin, Dear Evan Hansen, Hair Spray, Mamma Mia, Six, Thriller Live, Pretty Woman and many who were performing on cruise ships around the world.

All of them, without fail, credit the training they received at Northampton College as part of their success and I am delighted that the hard work of everyone in the team over the past 12 months has been recognised.

The awards will be held virtually from 6pm on Wednesday, March 24. The ceremony will be streamed live at and on Facebook.

For more information about Musical Theatre courses available at Northampton College, please click here.