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You may recognise 27-year-old Brooke if you’ve been watching ‘This England’ on Sky Atlantic!

She has been a professional actress since 2004, a career that has already seen her land a role on the West End with ‘Billy Elliot’, travel the oceans as a performer onboard Marella Cruises, and perform in numerous UK Tours, including ‘Mad on her’, ‘Burlesqued’, ‘Burlesqued LIVE!’ and ‘Alice in wonderland - down the rabbit hole’. 

Her personal life has been no less hectic for Brooke, who became a wife in 2019 and welcomed beautiful twin boys into their family in September last year.

On top of all that, this year she decided to return to the classroom, choosing Stockton Riverside College to top up her Musical Theatre Degree.

We caught up with the mum-of-two, originally from Sunderland, who had previously studied her Foundation Degree at Newcastle College and completed a vocational year of training at Italia Conti, London.  She told us how she always knew the North would draw her back home and why she has now chosen to complete her studies with Stockton Riverside College.

“I needed somewhere that would fit in with my lifestyle,” she said. “I’m not in the position to turn down any professional jobs that come my way, so I needed somewhere that would work around my other commitments.”

Looking back on recent years, she explained how she and her husband were living in London in 2020 when Covid hit the world, and with it, the entertainment industry.  The pair decided then the time was right to come back to the region.

Her plan was always to return to education, to continue her studies and topping up her degree was never off the cards.  It was a goal she knew she would achieve one day.

As it turns out, 2022 would be her year. She’s now enjoying her first term on the BA (Hons) Musical Theatre (Top-up) here at Stockton Riverside College!

With two young sons and needing to find time to attend auditions, Brooke has a lot to juggle.  But, after speaking with Tom Guest, our higher education course leader for performing arts, she said: “Tom understood instantly why I wanted to get my qualifications and I knew I would be able to work this course around other elements of my life.”

Now a few months into her degree she is full of excitement for the course. She said: “It’s not just all performing, it’s teaching me how I can use my skills locally, here in the North-east too.”

All of this is sure to help in her future, as she added: “I’m inclined to get a PGCE eventually and go into teaching musical theatre in this type of environment.”

However, for now, she said: “I’d like to continue performing.”

When asked what she enjoys most about the course, Brooke explained: “I’m learning all different fields, directing, choreography, taking headshots, a great mix of everything!” She added: “It’s everything you should know, getting into the mind of other roles in the industry is really useful.”

Brooke and her fellow classmates are now preparing for their upcoming shows, a vocal concert in January and The Wedding Singer later in the year. She told us how she is putting her focus on getting through this year and obtaining her degree, but she is still working as a solo artist and has a couple of singing gigs coming up on the lead up to Christmas.

Tom Guest said “This is the perfect course for someone like Brooke, a professional performer with great experience who is looking to top up that qualification. She will build great skills whilst still being able to work as an actor”

Brooke added: “I’d tell anyone who is nervous to go back into training that they can still do it. Even if they’re older or already working. The opportunity to top up your qualifications is there.”

As for the top-up year at Stockton Riverside College, she said: “No matter if you’re experienced or if you’ve just finished your foundation degree, the BA (Hons) Musical Theatre (Top-Up) offers everything you need. For me I know it will help with current work, but I’m also learning so many more new skills.”

“For those coming out of their foundation degree, the course is great as it explains a lot about how to get experience in the industry and how to get your foot in and open the right doors.”

The BA (Hons) Musical Theatre (Top-Up) at Stockton Riverside College offers the ideal route for those with a HND, foundation degree or equivalent qualification in performing arts or events production subjects.

Tom said: “Today’s performance industries demand highly trained, professional practitioners and that’s what we aim to deliver. If you want a career in performing arts and the wider industry, this could be the course for you!”

For more information on the higher education performing arts courses at Stockton Riverside College click here!

Brooke Havana
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