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Legendary Performing Arts Teacher, Performer, Norah Button, graduates with a Masters Degree in Musical Theatre and Drama
Norah Button, who has dedicated her life to training young performers at Liverpool Theatre School, is celebrating one of her greatest achievements to date as the octogenarian becomes one of the oldest students in Britain to graduate with a Masters Degree in Musical Theatre and Drama at the age of 83.
Affectionately known as ‘Miss Norah’ to the generations of young performers who have trained at Liverpool Theatre School, where she was Principal for over five decades, she left school with no formal qualifications, although her ability to entertain and inspire others has never been in doubt.
Norah, who lives in Aigburth with her husband, Jim, has always had passion for theatre and her incredible talent for signing, dancing and acting led to a long career in show business. As well as starring in numerous stage shows, she spent many years working alongside close friend, Sir Ken Dodd, who asked her to choreograph his infamous Diddymen after a chance meeting at a beauty pageant in 1962 when she was crowned Miss Liverpool.
During the 1960s, Norah took to entering beauty contents that offered cash prizes with the sole aim of funding her ambition to turn Liverpool Theatre School into a centre of excellence for performing arts training. She succeeded in reaching her goal, winning a total of 19 titles along the way. Now recognised as one of the region’s top places to train in professional musical theatre and dance, Liverpool Theatre School alumni have landed starring roles in smash hit shows from Les Miserables, Blood Brothers and Tenors of Rock to The Book of Mormon, Six and Frozen the Musical.
Norah was awarded Freedom of the City in 2010 for her contribution to performing arts through her work with Liverpool Theatre School, which was originally started by her grandmother, Anastasia Morrisey, in 1939. During the war, Anastasia used to teach underprivileged children how to sing, dance and act in the basement of her home on Upper Parliament Street in Toxteth and Norah soon became one of her most gifted protégés. She was later spotted by a local teacher who offered her classical training at a reduced rate after being impressed by her exceptional talent.
Norah took over Liverpool Theatre School in the 1950s when her grandmother fell ill and she remained at the helm for many years until handing over the baton to former student, Maxine Ellis, who returned in 1993 to help run the performing arts school, becoming sole Principal in 2011.
Despite Norah’s long list of accomplishments, she counts graduating with a Masters Degree in Musical Theatre and Drama from Liverpool John Moores University among her proudest moments. She said: “Completing a Masters Degree in an industry I’ve been so passionate about my whole life has been on my bucket list for a very long time and I’m absolutely over the moon to be able to tick it off.
“Teaching young performers has always been such a huge part of my career and I still love every minute of it, I’ll never retire. The energy at Liverpool Theatre School is what keeps me alive and there’s no better feeling than watching talented students blossom into magnificent performers. I’ll always be a teacher, although I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to finally make the time to do something for myself.
“Graduating with a Masters qualification in Musical Theatre and Drama has been an incredible journey and it just goes to show that you’re never too old to add a new string to your bow, even at the age of 83. I hope my story will help to inspire others, whatever their age, to set themselves a goal and achieve something remarkable. I’ve never been one to rest on my laurels so I’m already looking for my next challenge!”
Norah continues to nurture talented young performers every weekend at Liverpool Theatre School’s Junior Academy, which is open to all young people between the ages of four to 16, while current Principal, Maxine Ellis, runs the elite training programmes at the centre of excellence.
Liverpool Theatre School, which became the first stage school in the country to scrap audition fees in 2018, was built on the ethos that performing arts training should be accessible to all talented performers, regardless of financial circumstances. The Ofsted ‘outstanding’ performing arts academy offers a number of fully-funded places and bursaries every year for professional Trinity and BTEC training in dance, musical theatre and performing arts.
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