Sunderland schoolboy set to follow in the footsteps of Russell Brand

Seeking the spotlight. Arran Bell from Grangetown has won place at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.
Seeking the spotlight. Arran Bell from Grangetown has won place at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.
Have your say

TEENAGER Arran Bell is shooting to stardom.

The Grangetown schoolboy has just won himself the “Holy Grail” of performing arts – a place at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.

At just 16, Arran was the youngest to win a provisional place at the school on a one-year foundation course, after auditioning alongside students two years his senior in a gruelling day-long process.

The Bell family travelled to the academy before Arran took part in a large group audition, dance workshop and an individual audition before a guided tour of the school.

For Arran, studying at Italia Conti has always been a lifelong goal.

He said: “Ever since I started going to classes, people would always talk about Italia Conti, the facilities they have and the opportunities going there can create.

“It’s like the Holy Grail of performing arts.”

Having honed his skills in numerous classes since the age of six, when he started tap and ballet sessions at the Sunderland Dance Academy, where he is still a student, he recalled his favourite performance being on the Sage stage.

He said: “After getting the top mark in the North East for the Grade 5 Musical Theatre exam, I was invited to perform at the awards evening at the Sage, Gateshead.

“Me and my music teacher planned a routine for Shirley Bassey’s Big Spender and I was able to sit on the piano and work the audience. It was so much fun. I could only imagine how amazing it would be to someday perform on stage in the West End.”

Speaking about his acceptance to the famous academy, Arran added: “It was a bit daunting and a shock to learn I had been accepted but now it’s really exciting.”

However, the talented teenager will only be able to attend the world-famous school if he can secure the funding to pay for his studies and living costs.

Arran’s father Graeme, 49, said: “We’re so proud of what he has achieved so far. He just never stops working, in fact it’s really difficult trying to keep track of where he is going to be and what he’s going to be learning or practising every day.

“He has worked so hard to get to where he is and it was an amazing achievement winning a provisional place at the school. Italia Conti is trying to help us in every way they can to ensure that Arran will be there next year and that’s what he has been working so hard towards, it’s his dream.”

Italia Conti charges more than £3,000 per term to study a Foundation Course, totalling in excess of £9,000 for the year.

In addition, the Bells are seeking to fund Arran’s living costs, estimated at another £550 per month, for the duration of his first year of study.

The family is awaiting the results of a medical as part of the process of applying for one of the limited scholarships available from the Academy.

Furthermore, they are looking into applying for a bursary and seeking potential sponsors.

Graeme added: “If anyone could help us by either sponsoring Arran or has any ideas as to what else we could do, could they contact me on my mobile number, 07854 487771.”

History of the academy

•The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts is Britain’s and the world’s oldest theatre arts training school.

•It grew out of the first production of the play that was to become a children’s classic, Where The Rainbow Ends.

•Italia Conti, who was then an established actress, was invited by producer Charles Hawtrey to teach the children for the first production of Where the Rainbow Ends, which opened at the SAVOY Theatre in 1911.

•Italia Conti students receive the unique benefits of training based on more than 100 years of knowledge and experience geared to the needs of present-day drama and theatre .