Former Middlesbrough College student Leah Rutherford is enjoying success after finishing in the top 5 on the ITV talent competition show ‘Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream’. ‘Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream’ is an ABBA-inspired reality show where talented musical theatre performers compete to be cast as the leading roles of Sophie Sheridan and Sky Raymand in the London West End production of Mamma Mia!
Leah initially signed up to audition for the show to gain experience of the professional audition process in the sector and was thrilled to be cast in the TV show. She said: “This was my very first professional audition, and I was very nervous, so I was shocked to get a yes at the end of the auditions!
“The whole experience of the show was amazing. We rehearsed in London initially and then flew to Corfu in Greece for the filming of the show.
“This has been my first professional insight into the industry, and I’ve had the most incredible time.
“Although I have now been eliminated from the competition, I’m grateful for the experience and proud to have made it to the top 5. I met a lot of talented and lovely people whilst filming, and it’s been wonderful to have had the support back at home too.”
The talented 20-year-old from Redcar studied Level 3 Performing Arts (Musical Theatre) at Middlesbrough College in 2019 and progressed to The Liverpool Media Academy where she is currently in the final year of her Musical Theatre degree studies.
Leah said: “I absolutely loved studying Performing Arts at Middlesbrough College! I met my best friends on the course and made friends for life at Middlesbrough College. I had so much fun studying at the College and the course prepared me well for degree level study.
“I performed in a range of musicals and shows at Middlesbrough College, including the annual Christmas pantomime. One of my favourite roles was playing the villain Captain Salam in Treasure Island.
“I have such fond memories of creating dance routines with my two best friends and performing them at College. That was such a brilliant part of the course as we were given a lot of creative freedom and the opportunity to create and explore the different disciplines.
“My tutors were also so supportive of me. Karen Stone in particular really helped and guided me with my audition preparation for University. I’m so grateful to all my tutors for their support and advice, which has definitely helped me with my University studies and with my first successful professional audition.
“I would 100% recommend studying Performing Arts at Middlesbrough College. The course gives you all the tools you need to succeed as a performer and provides you with lots of opportunities to develop your skillset and improve your confidence. My dancing skills in particular really improved whilst studying at Middlesbrough College as you are given lots of dance time and classes.
“I’ve been lucky to sign with an agent whilst filming for the show, so I’m excited to see where my career will take me.
“I’m also proudly plus size and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. One of the highlights of being on the show has been representing these communities and showing that size and sexuality shouldn’t impact your opportunities in the industry. The sector still has a way to go in terms of representation, but it is becoming more progressive. My advice to anyone who is plus size or a member of the LGBTQ+ community is to follow your dreams. Hard work, talent and determination shine through!
“My career goal is to star in a UK tour of a musical or as a performer on London’s West End. I also want to continue inspiring and representing the plus size and LGBTQ+ community in the industry. Thanks to Middlesbrough College, LMA and the experience of Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream, I know that I’m one step closer to fulfilling my ambition.”
If like Leah, you have a dream why not ‘take a chance’ on Middlesbrough College? We are accepting applications for our Performing Arts courses for September 2024. Take a look online and apply today.