Italia Conti and Mountview places landed by aspiring stars

By Dan Santy 07/03 Updated: 12/03 13:40

Buy photos » Grace Cowell has been offered places at both the Italia Conti and Mountview performing arts schools but needs a sponsor to help realise her dream. Photo by Jamie Gray 10.012.025.rug.jg3 (

STARDOM beckons for a two aspiring young actors after both landed places at the prestigious Mountview performing arts school.

Crick actor Ben Handforth said he was shocked to have landed a coveted place at the London school - one of the country's best for drama - after being involved with Rugby Theatre in recent years.

The 18-year-old, of Fallowfields, has appeared at the Henry Street theatre as The Artful Dodger in Oliver, Posner in the History Boys and Finch in How to Succeed among other roles.

Ben, who has attended the Christine Anderson Theatre School in Hillmorton for the last two years, said: "I'm still in shock to be honest. It is amazing news as it is so hard to get there."

Ben will begin studying musical theatre at Mountview in September. His final Rugby Theatre appearance will be in La Cage Aux Folles in June.

And another promising young Rugby actress, Grace Cowell, is hoping for a place at Mountview or the equally prestigious Italia Conti academy, but needs sponsorship to help realise her dream.

Grace, who lives in Cawston, has been offered a place at the school but will not be able to attend either unless she can get Government funding or a sponsor to help with the thousands of pounds needed in course fees.

Father Clark Cowell said they were hopeful of getting funding through a Dada (Drama and Dance Award) but added these were 'few and far between'.

Grace, who is 18 and in her last year at Stratford College studying musical theatre, has appeared as the leading lady in two productions at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre - as Aerial Moore in Footloose and Carmen Diaz in Fame.

Anyone interested in sponsoring Grace should email or call 01926 451900.

Famous alumni of Mountview include Downton Abbey actor Brendan Coyle, and Coronation Street's Denise Welch and Eddie Marsan. Stars to have graduated from London's Italia Conti include Lisa Snowdon, Russell Brand and Louise Redknapp.

Buy photos» Rugby Theatre actor Ben Handforth, who appeared in Aladdin at Rugby Theatre as Wishy Washy(right) has landed a place at the prestigious Mountview performing arts school. Picture by Jon Mullis 10.012.011.rug.jm2 (

Buy photos» Ben Handforth (left) appeared in Aladdin at Rugby Theatre as Wishy Washy. Picture courtesy of Martin Pulley. (s)

Buy photos» Grace performing in All That Jazz at Stratford Civic Hall. (s)

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