How did Emil Dale start?

Emil Dale Academy was opened in 2009 by Emil Dale, a 23 year old graduate from Arts Educational Schools London, starting with only 22 students in a tiny primary school hall in Hertfordshire. The school (at the time part time) was opened with only £60 worth of Vistaprint flyers. In just seven years, with not one loan, not one over draft, not one grant or any arts funding - in fact no handouts from anyone (and no, without sounding like an X Factor story, he does not have rich parents - Emil is from a single parent family & grew up in a council house). Today Emil Dale trains 400 students part time (ref: part time school website, 110 students full-time (ref: full time school website from all over the UK. Emil’s extreme, triple threat, affordable foundation courses are having unprecedented results in this sector. He also has his own talent agency (ref: Emil Dale talent agency website representing his students and working professionals, and has transformed a three storey, 12,000 square ft disused factory into five studios, a cafe, six 1:1 rooms, changing rooms, singing rooms and a professional pop up 200 seater not-for-profit theatre, which plays to around 4000 people a year (ref: Emil Dale Factory Playhouse The studios has a brand new healthy living bar, air conditioning, sprung floors, sound proofing and mirrors! The theatre has an automated revolving stage, and all performances are accompanied by a live West End band who are remotely wired on monitors from another part of the building!

Emil Dale Academy still to this day has not taken out any loans, over drafts, credit cards or been granted any Arts funding. Around 20 full and part scholarships a year are directly funded by Emil Dale. Our patrons are Chris Hocking (Arts Ed) & Neil Rutherford (international casting director, Legally Blonde, Guys and Dolls worked for Ambassador Theatre group) & Kerry Ellis (International Musical Theatre Star - Wicked, We Will Rock You, Oliver, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables and more).


Emil now employs four people full-time and around 35 people freelance from the industry every week during term time. Here are people who teach at Emil Dale Academy. This is a list of residents & guest teachers and are some of the best performers and teachers in the musical theatre industry:

In a time where there are more foundation courses, musical theatre, dance, drama schools opening every day than actual students who are really suitable to train professionally, its hard to work out the right place for you! (Not the number of students or families willing to pay for training - the actual number who are suitable and who can make a SUSTAINABLE LIVING from it! There is a difference, RIGHT?!)

We have seen a number of big, well-known colleges seem to be concentrating on becoming empires, rather than ensuring students are being trained to make a sustainable living from performing arts. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of students fees are spent on websites, shiny prospectuses and stands at career conventions, which have bigger budgets than some West End shows. This makes it nearly impossible for parents and students to actually recognise what a quality course really is?

After all, if a school is run by a celebrity, has accreditation by CDET (which as we know you we have to pay to be part of) and displays armies of students at Move It, in uniform that can been seen at London Fashion Week, with high gloss floor stands that look like a Justin Bieber concert, who cares if there are over 100 students in each year group? Who cares if the principal doesn’t even know the names of their students? Who cares that the success stories of Alumni are from the last five years not the last year alone? With a year group of over 100 students, someone is bound to work and it is not necessarily a true statistical representation of success?

Of course we recognise and champion those colleges which are offering solid quality courses in musical theatre. However, we do feel there is still a large gap for AFFORDABLE training. We feel that the popularity of our courses has a lot to do with the fact that we offer the cheapest courses in the country with an incredible level of contact hours, streamed classes, high quality shows, with very high production values, and private singing lessons included in the fees.


The model is really simple - Aldi have been doing it for years. Yes Aldi the supermarket. We offer high quality training, with only 1 variety of course, focusing solely on musical theatre. Paying a core team of professionals to teach and run the business. Our resident faculty clean the building, advertise, choreograph, direct, write reports, deal with emails, welfare, quality, production meetings, advertising, IT. This keeps costs down and means we are able to employ industry professionals on full-time contracts with a decent living salary. We have also found this means the resident staff are so in touch with the mechanics of the entire school, it gives a much better understanding when teaching the students! We have found it works extremely well.


We also boast a huge cohort of working professionals, who teach every week at our Academy, ensuring up to date training. However, we do believe you do need a quality resident team for continuity. I admire colleges who claim to exclusively employ working professionals, yet it doesn’t seem efficient to have your head of dance also be the resident director on an international tour. Students need continuity in core disciplines, not just from teacher notes handed from class to class but from instinct. We actually have MORE guest teachers than most colleges at this level, but this is balanced out an extremely strong core team.


Emil Dale Academy started as a weekend school in a tiny primary school hall in Hitchin. Emil was 22 years old, had graduated from Arts Educational School of Musical Theatre where he was a on a full scholarship. His pay-the-rent job was teaching at stage school franchises. Emil soon realised families were paying silly money to train their children, the standard of teaching was average, and being a graduate from Arts Ed knew he could do it a lot better, for a lot cheaper and use West End performers from the actual shows. He decided to change a number of things. He opened on a Sunday, instead of your normal Saturday schools, to allow West End performers to teach. He decided the usual format of an hour of singing, an hour of dance, and an hour of acting was not engaging enough and could be better formatted. Emil decided to train people for 3.5 hours a week not three, which meant he could divide into five groups taking five classes. Three 45 minute classes and two half an hour classes which means they would meet five teachers a week. Oh and he did this for less money! Yes students would pay around one hundred pounds less a term than similar companies and would get an extra 30 mins a week, plus meet an additional 2 teachers! This meant his students could get a different West End masterclasses every week as well as technique classes.


Our full time Academy ( is in it’s third year of operation. It offers a one year gap year course and a two year audition preparation course equivalent to 3 A-Levels partnered with Knights Templar School in Baldock, Herts. 

YES - another college offering a foundation course. So why do we believe we are different and have results to prove it? It's simple: we treat our foundation courses like degree courses. Not money making opportunities to subsidise our other courses. We find that a large proportion of foundation courses are offered to people by colleges who quite simply don’t feel the applicant is suitable for their three year course, but know they are willing to pay, so offer their foundation course for one year only. Then the student shells out £9,000, gets only 25 contact hours a week, which doesn’t include any singing lessons, and which does not guarantee getting into said college. We also see year groups of over 100 people!! There is no wonder people are not getting results. We promise extreme, triple threat training, with affordable fees. The Academy is only thirty minutes from Kings Cross London.




This includes a private 30 minute 1:1 singing lesson with an industry professional. 

We operate for 33 weeks a year and up to 35 hours contact time a week. We stream classes in dance in ability with no more than 22 students in a class with the majority of classes operating at an average of 17 people.

We produce 2 full scale productions a year accompanied by a live West End band and a professional working musical director, director and choreographer - these productions are open to the public. 

The budget for shows in 2016 was just under £150,000. The students played to 4000 people (public as well as parents) which gave them real performance experience.


We recognised people are paying through the roof for accommodation. We created a local campaign looking for host families who had a spare room. As a college we ensured host families were DBS checked. Students are then put in touch with families, and only have to pay during the school term time, not during half term breaks. 


Emil Dale opens FREE musical theatre workshops to anyone in the country throughout the year. These workshops are taught by industry professionals from West End shows TV / FILM and theatre and are no obligation. Emil recently did a campaign which encouraged people to get a taste of a real stage school- take a look here: 


If you can find a course like-for-like Musical Theatre course in the UK, offering more contact hours with weekly private singing lessons included in the fees for every student, for less money, we will train you completely FREE!


Private singing lesson for every student every week

Up to 35 hour contact time for 33 weeks a year.

3 x 1.25 hour jazz classes, steamed in ability.

3 x 1.25 hour acting classes. 

3 x 1.25 hour technical ballet classes, streamed in ability.

3 x 1.25 hour choral singing classes. 

5 x 45 mins of cardio and strengthening 

Song and dance class with West End performers every week.

Song workshop to prepare your audition songs with casting director (Neil Rutherford)

Commercial dance. 

Contemporary dance. 

History of musical theatre.


Careers talks with drama school representatives and working industry professionals from stage and screen. (Principals of Arts Ed and Mountview visited us last year to lead talks.)

Performance workshop 

Attached to a professional agency for TV / FILM / THEATRE (Many students work professionally)

All run from our own 12,000 sq. ft, 3 storey building with 6 studios and a 200 seater theatre. (The Factory Playhouse, Hitchin.)

Every year each student takes part in 2 full scale productions accompanied by a live West End band. One musical and one showcase.

From the last year group alone, five students were offered the three year course in musical theatre at Arts Ed, which means 10% of Arts Ed’s first years are from Emil Dale Academy! 


We are always keen to embrace (and be embraced by) the local community. We open all our student productions to the public, and we have performed flash mobs in the town. 

We also ran an annual ‘Evening with EDSA’ concert for three years running, at which we raised money for Keech Children’s Hospice. We also held a ‘Parents Do EDSA’ event, where parents were sponsored to do EDSA lessons for a day, and the money raised went to Children in Need.

In addition, this year we have organised a Christmas dinner for the elderly in our community, at no cost to them. 

Theatre as a medium has the power to change lives, and we want to be able to do this in a practical way as well!


2014-2015 (First year open - 4 people auditioned for schools this year)

Jack Churms – Arts Educational Schools London 3 Year BA Hons Musical Theatre degree

Nichola Seymour – Bird College 3 Year BA Hons Professional Dance and Musical Theatre degree



  • Joe Potter - Guildhall London 3 Year BA Hons Acting degree
  • Esme Graham - 3 GSA 3 Year BA Hons Acting degree
  • Jade Johnson – Arts Educational Schools London 3 Year BA Hons Musical Theatre degree
  • Brad Adams – Arts Educational Schools London 3 Year BA Hons Musical Theatre degree
  • Rebecca Jones – Arts Educational Schools London 3 Year BA Hons Musical Theatre degreeEmily Hammond – Arts Educational Schools London 3 Year BA Hons Musical Theatre degree (Also offered Bird College, Bodywork, Performers)
  • Tom Rowland – Arts Educational Schools London 3 Year BA Hons Musical Theatre degree (Also offered Mountview)
  • Jordan Dutton – Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts 3 Year BA Hons in Performance – Musical Theatre degree
  • Joseph Peacock - Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts 3 Year BA Hons in Performance – Musical Theatre degree
  • Christie Redfern – Bird College 3 Year BA Hons Professional Dance and Musical Theatre degree (Also offered London Studio Centre)
  • Luke Makins – Bird College 3 Year BA Hons Professional Dance and Musical Theatre degree (Also offered Laines)
  • Samuel Barrett – Urdang Academy 3 Year BA Hons Professional Dance and Musical Theatre degree (Also offered Laines)
  • Elijah Holloway – Rose Bruford 3 Year BA Hons Acting degree
  • Lana Freeman – London Studio Centre 3 Year BA Hons Theatre Dance degree (Also offered Performers)
  • Paige Canavan-Smith – AMDA New York 3 Year BA Hons Music Theatre Degree
  • Olivia Eckersall - AMDA New York 3 Year BA Hons Acting Degree
  • Emily McDermott – PPA 3 Year Acting for Stage and Screen Degree
  • George Bradfield – Rose Bruford distance learning 3 Year Degree Theatre Studies Degree
  • Sebastian Calver – East 15 3 Year BA Hons Acting degree

Also, Joseph Peacock played the role of Pete in the UK Premier of The Burnt Part Boys (Park Theatre) and is nominated for Broadway World award - the Best Actor in a New Musical.

Gemma Parr-Smith currently on world tour with Royal Caribbean Cruises

Sophie Byrne given a featured role on the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship international tour

Aaron Ward currently filming and writing for industry

Stefan Healy currently working successfully in the industry on various film, tv and adverts

Joshua Frater-Loughlin featured in several music videos and adverts, as well as acting projects

Chloe Fox currently working as a model and featured in adverts and acting projects



Class sizes range from Private 1:1 in singing every single week


There is one ensemble singing class with the entire year group alone during the week (so 43 in year 1; 32 in year 2; 35 in Gap Year)


All other classes are streamed:

Maximum class size in year 1 is 22 (some classes streamed further so class sizes are only 13 or 14)

Maximum class size in year 2 is 15

Maximum class size in year 3 is 17


Our 2 Year Musical Theatre Course is run in partnership with the Knights Templar School, Baldock who are subject to Ofsted inspection and must adhere to government-required delivery of BTEC. We work in partnership with the school to ensure we deliver the best quality within our course. We bring these quality assurance processes into all of our courses, and also are supported wholly by industry professionals who are instructed to treat our classes as they would a degree course - this means students are being taught at a high level and the expectations of the course are of young professionals, not just students. We believe students are capable of being taught at a high level, and as a result we see rapid improvements in all disciplines.


According to our TICKET SOURCE survey booking information, over 80% of people who see our shows are public from Hertfordshire, and not just gushing parents! You can see all the real public reviews here: (ref: student show reviews

Here is one example:

Felt compelled to post a comment on here to all those involved, especially the cast, in the production of West Side Story that I saw last night (Sunday) at the Factory Playhouse. Let me start by saying I not normally a fan of musicals, and to be brutally honest I had no idea what my girlfriend was dragging me to at the Hitchin industrial estate (?!) only realising it was a production of WSS when I actually arrived.

Quite simply the show was one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen in a long time. While I am no connoisseur of the arts, preferring normally to watch live sport not theatre, I have seen performances all over world from the Queen Mother in Hitchin, The Gordon Craig in Stevenage, to plays and musicals in the West End, Broadway in NYC and even the Opera House in Sydney.

The space has been wonderfully transformed and the level of intimacy one gets from being so close is quite remarkable. You almost feel like you are part of the show yourself. I could see the sweat dripping throughout and the tears in the eyes of performers at the final scene. This felt like an experienced professional production in Shoreditch, not a-level students in Hitchin. The rotating stage works so well and is genius.

I must confess that generally in youth theatre I generally expect the leads to be reasonable but that there will be a few weaker performers in the ensemble. This was not the case at all with this show, everyone on the stage was superb and produced exceptional professional performances. There are no hiding places on a stage that is that close to the audience, and nobody let the side down. The accents that everyone seemed to be able to do with easy were spot on, quite incredible from such young performers.

The sets, the acting, the live band, the singing and in particular the choreography were all fabulous. I shall recommend to everyone I know locally for future performances. Congratulations to everyone involved and hopefully if I can get a seat I will be back to see some more stuff from this bunch of very talented people.

PS I know no one personally who has anything to do with this show! We saw a random mention of this place on a facebook group a month ago, so thought we would see what it was all about. I'm glad we did.


We are launching a brand new UK musical theatre channel which will broadcast LIVE and pre-recorded musical theatre numbers on YouTube. This will See here:


Emil Dale School of Performing Arts and Academy operate with no overdrafts, loans or charitable donations. We also have no assistance with advertising (i.e. no radio, newspaper or online advertising granted to us out of goodwill) or productions (we pay staff full wages and pay fairly for equipment hire and staging hire).


In 2015, Emil Dale Academy production of West Side Story had a budget of £64,000 which was with our full-time students and ran for 5 days (7 shows). Their showcase had a budget of £18,000 for 4 shows.

In that same year, we produced Oliver with our morning school members (ages 5 - 13) and had a budget of £34,000

We also produced Into the Woods with our afternoon school members (ages 14+) and this budget was £32,000

In 2016, we produced a sell-out run of Grease for 2 weeks, which had a £94,000 budget. The Academy showcase this year budgeted at £24,000.

The weekend school showcases this year had budgets of £26,000 and £16,000 (Hitchin and Cambridge respectively).


We think it is essential our students get involved with as much outreach work as possible.

People of Hertfordshire and the surrounding areas we need your help! Let's make a difference this Christmas! Please SHARE with anyone who might benefit. We have a massive building in Hitchin and want to give something back!

EMIL DALE ACADEMY ( are hosting our first 40 SPARE CHAIR CHRISTMAS project on Friday the 2nd of December for the elderly in the local area who live alone and want to join our students and staff, in our studios, for a roast dinner and of course a song or two. We are a musical theatre school after all!?

The best news is everything on the day will be totally paid for by us!

It's time to STEP UP! If you know someone who is elderly and living alone knock on their door, tell them about our project and get them to our building. Don't leave it to someone else. We really can make a BIG difference if we work together. Get talking to people. Maybe you have elderly neighbours or even people you are aware live alone!?! It's time to REACH OUT.

Everyone at our Academy is super friendly and we want to welcome as many people as we can. We have 40 free places available so get sharing! Lunch is at 1pm and we are located in Hitchin Hertfordshire 60 Wilburn Way SG40PA


  • A third of people over the age of 70 in the UK eat alone every day.
  • Research reveals that hosting one Sunday Roast a year could help tackle loneliness in older people

“We know that regular friendship links over a meal provide a simple solution to the complex problem of isolation in older people. The benefits are enormous for both older people and hosts and volunteers at Contact the Elderly only need do it once or twice a year to make an enormous difference to older people’s lives."

All you need to do to get involved is email with CHRISTMAS DINNER in the subject we need attendee details: NAME / PHONE NUMBER / ADDRESS / WHEELCHAIR REQUIREMENTS or call us 01462 677808 if you or they don't have access to email.

WOW! You got this far! Thank you for reading!

Emil Dale & the team at Emil Dale Academy

Published Monday 21st of November 2016

© Copyright Emil Dale 2016