Katy Lipson, Joseph Houston and William Whelton are delighted to announce the launch of Hope Aria Academy, a new and exciting part-time drama course situated in Manchester. Founders Katy, Joseph and William recognised a need for more opportunities for Northern-based performers to specialise in musical theatre. All three founders have backgrounds in musical theatre training and are currently full-time producers and theatre owners, actively working in the industry:

“Having produced 10 musicals in the North West, we have seen the demand for more opportunities for specialist training in musical theatre. Hope Aria Academy is filling a gap within the musical theatre training available in the North West. With so much of the current focus being London-centric, we hope to offer a boutique, personable and professional course which allows performers to strengthen skills, learn new ones and challenge themselves whilst staying close to home. We will create a safe working environment which will provide guidance and mentorship for its students as they enter or re-enter the musical theatre industry.”

The course is tailored for individuals who have already trained professionally and are looking for a fresh approach to training within a smaller, more focused atmosphere, for individuals who are not yet ready to make the leap to full-time drama training and require further tuition, and for mature students who have experience in musical theatre and want to re-train to return to the industry.

Students will also be introduced to the wider creative industry, with regular guest teachers in all three disciplines of acting, singing and dance, and opportunities for casting directors and agents to come and view a final term piece.

The first 12-week course will run from 22 April to 19 July 2019 (half term 27-31 May) on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings between 6.30pm and 9.30pm at Hope Aria House, Unit 15 Wellington House, Manchester, M40 7FS at a cost of £150 per week. Applications are now open for students through the Academy’s website. One scholarship place for the course will be available, for which details will be released in the New Year. Later in 2019, the plan is to offer a full-time course as well.

The core faculty will comprise of Katy Lipson, Joseph Houston and William Whelton, who were together ranked in The Stage’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Theatre. In 2016, Joseph and William joined forces with Katy of Aria Entertainment to spearhead Hope Mill Theatre as a home for new musicals, musical premieres and musical revivals. Hope Aria productions since 2016 include Parade, Hair, the European Premiere of Yank!, Pippin, the European Premiere of Little Women, the World Premiere of Toyboy Diaries, Spring Awakening, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love, new musical The Return of the Soldier and Stephen Sondheim’s Putting It Together. London transfers include Yank! at Charing Cross Theatre, Pippin at Southwark Playhouse and Hair at The Vaults. Their award-winning 50th anniversary production of Hair is about to embark on a UK Tour and Aspects of Love will be transferring to Southwark Playhouse in January 2019.

Katy Lipson

Before setting up the producing company Aria Entertainment, Katy was a vocal and repertoire coach at schools such as The Brit School, Trinity Laban and The London Theatre School.
She has taught masterclasses for The Growing Studio, Kellanne Dance and for The Royal Central School Of Speech And Drama.

She worked as a freelance musical director for five years, working on UK and International tours of It’s A Wonderful Life, Hot Flush The Musicaland The 12 Tenors amongst many London fringe productions.

Since then, Katy has produced over 60 musicals, including the UK Premiere of The Addams Family and The Toxic Avenger as well as all musicals at Hope Mill Theatre.

In 2013, she set up a renowned festival for new musical theatre called From Page To Stage.

Joseph Houston

Joseph trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, receiving a first class honours in musical theatre.

He has worked extensively in the musical theatre industry, both in the UK and internationally. He founded Hope Mill Theatre in 2015, and, since then, has produced many musicals at the venue as well as London transfers and commercial tours.

Joseph taught drama for five years for Stagecoach, working with children from 5-18, and has also led many masterclasses for drama schools in London and Scotland. He is also a director.

William Whelton

William is very proud to have trained at Laine Theatre Arts, receiving a Professional Diploma in Musical Theatre and Dance. After working as a performer for several years, he opened Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester with his husband, Joe.

Choreography credits: the musical revue show Putting It Together (Hope Mill Theatre), It’s Only Life (Union Theatre, London), Hair (Hope Mill Theatre, The Vaults in London), for which Will was nominated for an Offie for Best Choreography and the production won a What’s on Stage Award for Best Off West End Production, Pippin (Hope Mill Theatre, Southwark Playhouse), for which Will was again nominated for an Offie for Best Choreography, Parade (Hope Mill Theatre), Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella (Clonter Opera Theatre) and Our House (Union Theatre).

Future projects include the family pantomime Aladdin (Everyman in Cheltenham) and the 2019 UK Tour of Hair.