Tring Park School
Is it really possible to do well in your GCSEs and have your eye on a Hollywood career?
Tring Park School for Performing Arts is one of a kind. To start with, it specialises in four vocational subjects: dance, musical theatre, singing and commercial music. Many other performing arts schools might excel in just one artistic area, with the other subjects being an add-on. What’s even more amazing is how the talented students at Tring Park perform academically. How they do it isn’t a mystery: the students acknowledge the simple truth that if you’re spending every day at school doing what you love, it makes it easier to concentrate on academic work. So there you have it. Since we visited Tring Park School for our review last year, both current and former students have been excelling both in the classroom, on stage, on television and in Hollywood and beyond. If you’d like to hear more, we suggest you book up for one of the open days in October. In the meantime, here’s a round up of what’s been happening at Tring:
Tring Park 16 sing to win in Pitch Battle
Were you gripped by the BBC singing talent show Pitch Battle this summer? No? You missed Chaka Kahn? No matter, you can catch up, and it’s well worth doing so. It’s a brilliantly joyful show. Gareth Malone is just one of the judges, along with Kelis, Joe Jonas from DNCE and Deke Sharon. When chamber choir Tring Park 16 performed, Gareth Malone was on his feet most of the time. They are electrifyingly good. Yes, they call themselves a chamber choir, but you need to see them in action to get the whole picture. Together these Tring Park students create the most amazing soulful sound. The format of the show means that rather than a bake-off (and yes, Mel Giedroyc is the host), there’s a riff-off – think knock-out choral and dance extravaganzas. Tring Park 16 beat The Ramparts to go through to the nail-biting final. Tune in here to see them shine.
Yes, I know it soon will be autumn, but sadly Downton is no longer on our screens. But do you remember Rose? She was played by Lily James, who studied at Tring Park. Lily went on to win the lead role in Cinderella, War and Peace and Baby Driver. News just in: Lily has just been cast at the young Donna in the sequel to Mamma Mia. Chill the prosecco! Can’t wait for this one. It’s out next year.
Another starry former student is Daisy Ridley, who played Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Have you heard about the new film Ophelia, due to be released in 2018? It’s basically a re-imagined Hamlet, told from Ophelia’s perspective, and yes, it’s Daisy Ridley playing Ophelia, and telling the story of her forbidden love for Hamlet, played by George MacKay. Oh, and Claudius is played by the delicious (IMHO) Clive Owen.
Tring Park students often go on to become directors and choreographers. Drew McOnie is another Tring graduate, and it’s just been announced that he’ll be directing the King Kong musical on Broadway.
Ella Henderson, who studied commercial music at the school, was nominated in the Brit Awards for British female solo artist. Her debut album, Chapter One, went platinum.
Winning and spinning at Sadlers Wells
In dance, Tring Park has another winner: Nafisah Baba won the BBC Young Dancer of the Year award for her contemporary dance. The Grand Final was at Sadler’s Wells, presented by Anita Rani and Ore Oduba, with help from Darcey Bussell who acknowledged the talent and tenacity that is needed to win this award. A former Tring Park student, Lois Wong, joined Nafisah for the duet in front of a packed house. Well done, Nafisah!
Yet more sparklers at Tring Park with stellar A Level results this year with 58.9% of students garnering A*/B grades. Students are going on to all kinds of illustrious drama schools, conservatories and unis, including the Julliard School in New York, London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the Urdang Academy, also in London. Others are pursuing degrees in physics, physiotherapy and photojournalism at UK and US universities.
What’s also impressive about Tring Park is that while it is a fee-paying school, it welcomes young people with talent and a passion for the performing arts regardless of means, thanks to its generous bursaries and scholarships and the support of the Government’s Music and Dance Scheme.