Wisbech has strong connection with growing popularity of Kings Lynn based theatre group at College of West Anglia

COWA: Leading lady and leading man, both from Wisbech, are Amy Carter and Jake Pearse.

COWA: Leading lady and leading man, both from Wisbech, are Amy Carter and Jake Pearse. - Credit: Archant

THE new Aspire theatre group at the College of West Anglia in King’s Lynn has been such a success in its first year that there have been a mass of students who want to join the courses next year.

COWA: New logo for Aspire

COWA: New logo for Aspire - Credit: Archant

It has progressed with a strong Wisbech connection, with two Fenland students in lead roles for the most recent production and a Tydd St Giles student up for an audition for the BBC.

COWA: Aspire theatre group

COWA: Aspire theatre group - Credit: Archant

And the college could be heading for stardom with 12 of its students scouted by the hugely popular BBC The Voice show – and two of them have been called back for auditions.

COWA: Emma and Annette

COWA: Emma and Annette - Credit: Archant

Ayse Ashton, 17, from Tydd St Giles, and Aimee Horner, 21, from King’s Lynn, have been invited to London by the BBC for the next round of auditions of The Voice where the singing hopefuls will have to perform in front of fellow contestants.

COWA: Ayse Ashton (left) and Aimee Horner

COWA: Ayse Ashton (left) and Aimee Horner - Credit: Archant

When the BBC visited the college both Ayse and Aimee sang without music with Ayse singing Glitter In The Air by Pink and Aimee doing 30 Minute Love Affair by Paloma Faith.

They both admit to being excited and nervous, particularly Ayse who has not even had singing lessons.

Some 138 students have applied for the performing arts course at the college for 2013/14 – an increase of 39% on the 86 who have been involved in the new, improved and rebranded course which have been given the Aspire title.

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The growth is not only in numbers but in ideas and ambition for its students.

It has delighted Emma Forrest-Leigh, programme manager for visual and performing arts, and Annette Connolly, course director for Level 2 performing arts and dance tutor.

“I am really so proud of the students and the team,” said Emma.

Aspire brings different skills together incorporating areas such as singing, dancing, acting and audition processes for those seeking a theatre career, who joined the team in November when it was rebranded.

“The course makes the students more versatile and employable,” said Emma.

This year and more so in the next academic year the college plans to get more involved in the community, such as organising workshops in schools.

And students at the college know they will be taught by professionals with more to look forward to in 2015.

That will see the opening of the new bespoke £2.4m performing arts area within the former sports centre on the campus.

To show its unified approach, staff and students now wear T-shirts emblazoned with the Aspire Logo, part of the branding for the whole area.

This year Aspire has staged five productions, including musicals and variety.

The last one in June was The Boys In Photograph, a musical theatre set in the troubles in Northern Ireland at the end of the 1960s.

It features the music of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Ben Elton.

More than 20 students took part, including Hudson Tong, 18, who played the role of priest Father O’Donnell and who has now been accepted at the increasingly popular Urdang Academy, situated in the heart of London’s West End.

Other students will be moving on to university, thanks to the course they have attended locally.

Call 01553 815552 and speak to Gill Child if you wish to make arrangements to get tickets for college productions for next year, which are open to students, schools, parents and the general public.