Top 7 Myths about Musical Theatre

For as long as I can remember, I have always been training in the arts and musical theatre. My mother said I was always a pain in her stomach throughout the duration of her pregnancy however that could have been because she conceived twins. I’ve never been able to sit still.

Never.

After ditching football at the age of 8, I entered the realm of theatre; I was certain I had made the right move. Here I am 12 Years down the line and still pursuing that prospect I had always dreamed of: The Stage.

In my 12 years of ‘training’ I’ve been subjected to a lot of home truths, superstitions, stereotypes and myths about the arts. Below you will find my top 7 myths about the industry musical theatre through my own personal experience.

Myth no 1 – all we do is sing and dance; surely it can’t be that difficult, right?

Let me stop you there. I’ve had this phrase regurgitated to me a thousand times throughout my life; usually from my twin brother.

You’re wrong.

There is inevitably a tremendous amount of commitment, hard work, perseverance and preparation that we put into our practice. We’re not beautiful all of the time. We work on our line, our posture, our technique, our sound, our voice and our mind. We mentally have to prepare ourselves to get into a character and tell their truth.

Essentially we are in their mindset.

To top it all off, our days are long, really long. We’re not your average student with 2, sometimes 3 lectures a day, a long lunch and even a late start. We’re up at the crack of dawn. My day starts at 6:30-7 am depending on whether I’ve hit the snooze button or not. I get home at 6:30 pm, cook dinner, gym, shower, read and go to bed. There isn’t much room for anything else. My day is proactive.

3 hours of dance, 1 hour singing lesson, a lecture or ensemble singing, then 2 hours of acting and that’s only a Monday or a Tuesday. Wednesday is the day of the voice. I work on my voice technique in the morning, followed by my acting through song lesson and finally then developing my musical theatre voice for the rest of the day. On Thursdays I have a lecture, then a 2 hour acting lesson and then a 3 hour lecture meeting working professionals in the industry to find and carve my own path in the industry. On a friday I have a 1.5 hour jazz lesson, then 2 tap lessons and finally music theory to complete my working week.

In the middle of all of this I somehow have o maintain look after my health. We train like athletes, we’re committed to our craft, we may make it ok easy but i assure you, it’s not.

Myth no 2 – in musical theatre the most important role is the lead

In my experience I have only ever played 1 lead and that was in my high school production of ‘Oliver’. Don’t get me wrong playing a lead is great and comes with great responsibility but I honestly believe I have learnt more about myself and my craft through playing supporting roles and featuring in the ensemble. Team work is essential and you learn that mostly in the chorus through listening to each other in group singing, blending together and being in sync in routines together. You keep the story developing and progressing in musical theatre. Never for one second think that you’re unimportant in the chorus. You do matter; you are not irrelevant.

Myth no 3 – we are all divas

You hear a lot about ridiculous demands being asked for by actors on sets or backstage but this really doesn’t apply for everyone or anyone I know for that matter. We all have our ‘Diva’ moments and are ‘Drama Queens’ from time to time. My secret Santa bought me a Whitney Houston T-Shirt and a snickers bar because ‘I’m not me when I’m hungry’ so I think that says a lot about me. But in essence, the majority of performers have so much respect for one another. We realise the skill and perseverance that goes into what we do as we’ve all grown up doing just that. Speaking to industry professionals has reaffirmed this for me. No one is out to get you, they only want your best.

Myth no 4 – bad dress, good opening night

In my experience this superstition has always been correct. I can’t tell you how many dress rehearsals I have been involved in where everything has just gone tits up. Anything and everything goes wrong and you’re left at the end with a cross director and an abundance of notes you need to work on before opening night. So you spend your last remaining hours focusing on just this and stressing yourself out before the beginners call. Miraculously the show goes well and all your doubts and worries about the show float away. It is a truly amazing feeling.

Myth no 5 – actors don’t get NERVOUS

Anyone that tells you they don’t is a liar.

I get nervous all the time but it not neccesrily a bad thing. It’s a sense of adrenaline that can create great products, if you get it under control and not allow it to undermine you. Nerves show that you care and I  think without them I wouldn’t love the role I’m currently in. It gives ou something to overcome in a sense and the feeling after doing so is great. You’ve achieved something and you should be proud of that.

Myth no 6 – it is not a proper job

Then why are there so many of us doing it in our careers? Why is it that every year you take your family to see the pantomime production at your local theatre? Why is it you watch those tv series at home?

We’re all a part of that, we create that form of entertainment for you. It’s such a rewarding industry. I’m a firm believer in: if you dont love your job then don’t do it. It is a hard industry to make a name for yourself in, however, with enough perseverance and commitment to it, I believe anything is possible. The skill set I’ve acquired from doing it for all these years has prepared me for a lot more jobs than just ‘musical theatre’.

 

Myth no 7 – we have a song foR everything

In my case this is sadly true. Sometimes I do just break out into a song because somebody has said something and it has sparked a lyric in my mind. I cant help that, its just how I’m inclined. Just tell us to shut up and it usually does the trick.

Word of advice though: don’t interrupt me when I’m singing Whitney.

 

With Love

– G

 

 

Seussical – Rehearsals

It’s now Friday; the day that ends my working week. So what better way to spend it than writing about my experience rehearsing and touring our latest project – Seussical.

Week 1

This week was a burst of all things fantastical, it was the start of our show rehearsals for Seussical the Musical. Music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and the book by the two. In case you hadn’t guessed already it’s a musical based on the works of Dr. Seuss. Our task was to create a show for children as well and touring it around local primary schools as part of our Theatre in Education module.

We started off the week by first exploring what exactly we thought the show was about and how we could implement this into our performance. This week was very much about exploring and creating the magical world of Seuss through play. We dived into exercises relating to our own life experience, touching on the heightening of characters and the ‘BIG IDEA’.

The importance of treating everyone and the environment fairly, respecting and celebrating diversity in oneself and in others and challenging discrimination.

In Seussical, there are many moments where certain characters go against the ‘big idea’. My character happened to be one of the culprits of this. Wickersham 1 is part of a hypermasculine duo of monkey brothers who go out of their way, under the Sour Kangaroos impression, to make Horton the Elephant’s life a living hell. I was really excited about this because it meant that I would be playing a character that is mischievous and playful. Essentially I got to be a little kid again. Researching further from this our task was to create a mood board of ideologies and themes and representations of our character and present it to the class. I decided to be a Venezuelan Red Howler monkey.

Colombian-red-howler-monkey-mouth-open

I also collated images of jocks to emphasize the pack mentality of the Wickershams’ and the hypermasculinity nature of the character. This is something we thought enhanced their status in the ensemble as its what drives their intent. They have to be bigger than everyone else and when something isn’t going their way they take action and cause the trouble.

I also found Akram Khans’s work very inspiring in terms of movement for the monkeys as he’s all about creating shapes whilst staying grounded. I’ve seen several of his works and each one I’ve loved. This is what lead me to look into tribes and capoeira as an art form; the Wickershams’ had to be quick on their feet and on alert at all times.

Later in the week, we utilised this research by putting it into practice through the embodiment of our characters and finally choreographing the opening number. There was a great sense of freedom and exploration instilled into this week which I particularly enjoyed even if it did feel a bit slow-moving at times.

Week 2

Arriving today was our choreographer, Jenny Arnold. This week primarily focussed on blocking and choreographing scenes; it was also the first time I workshopped my duet – Monkey Around. It took me a few tries to fully get into the scene but after completion and an extra rehearsal on myself and Brendan’s behalf, I left feeling relatively happy with what we achieved.

* cue round of applause *

The majority of the week was loosely based on creating and running through everything we had so far. I spent my breaks sipping herbal tea continuously and nurturing my mini injury I suffered mid-week. Somehow I managed to pull my groin which hurt a hell of a lot. It felt as though it was hinging in and out of place consistently. A hot bubble bath was what was prescribed that evening. I spent the rest of the week playing catchup in terms of what I needed to be doing physically. By the end of the week, I was restored to full health. My other cast double, on the other hand, was not. He too suffered an injury, an injury I would later learn meant that he would not be able to perform in the shows.

A blessing or a curse?

Week 3

As part of my costume, I had to wear American footballers shoulder guards and this was the week we got to try them out. It helped with the overextending nature of the monkeys and spatially it caused little problems which was good. This was the week where my vocal health started to deteriorate.

Herbal tea and yet even more herbal tea.

It’s safe to say I like my tea. It was my friend during this week for sure. Further into the week we continued working in exploring scenes and blocking numbers in the order of the show. After a hectic week the show was finally pieces together and Friday was our first performance in the primary schools. I had the joy of performing twice on this particular day and the 2nd run went vastly better than the first. I think once you do one show you’re more set for the rest and that was definitely the case on friday.

Week 4

SHOW WEEK

Such fun. This was a week of travelling; Thankyou London for great transport links. What was so great about this experience was the cohort of children. Each school was different so you never knew exactly what you would be getting yourselves into. Some offered heaps of energy as an audience and you could easily spot out the ring leaders and cheeky monkeys in the audience whereas others offered little; instead opting for a seated silence despite watching intently. Regardless of the audience you still had to put on a god show and thats exactly what we did.

As a cast we were involved in the setting up and taking down of the set and making sure all the props and costumes were packed away ready for the next cast’s performance. I think it was a great experience in terms of reality when dealing with a small budget touring performance as it gave us an insight into how things work and where our career could take us.

Amidst the hectic schedule I made time for a class at Laban that Danni Middle was putting on for us. This week was heels. It was my 1st Heels Class and a really great way to get comfortable in a pair of heels whilst dancing.

The End

Our final performance of the tour was to be at Laurie Grove in which we invited friends and family to support us in our show. We, as a cast, hadn’t performed in this venue since our first year end of show The Dreaming so it all felt rather nostalgic.

So my final 12th Show was completed and the experience as a whole has been really rewarding and I’m grateful for the opportunity to showcase this to a vast amount of audiences around our area. Being Christmas it felt right giving back to our community in one way or another and this definitely helped do that. Now though, it’s off to Berlin for me before going home for the holidays.

Let’s get merry.

Woyzeck @ The Old Vic 27/05/17

Woyzeck by Georg Büchner remains one of the most performed and influential plays in German theatre. I studied the play during my A-Level Drama course last year, it’s a fantastic play with so much room for interpretation. Going into the theatre I had somewhat of an idea of what it was going to be like.

Boy was I wrong.

Jack Thorne’s adaptation exhaled a breath of fresh air into the play. I had expected something completely different to what was shown before me and I really enjoyed the fact it wasn’t what I had first I magined. This furthered the mystery of the play to me in some ways and made me fall in love with it all over again. Büchner died before his play was ever finished leaving the order of the play a mystery waiting to be solved.

Nick, my companion for the performance said this “I don’t think you can think of it as ‘Woyzeck’ as it was written.” 

I think he’s quite right.

In order for me to watch this performance I had to completely abandon my existing knowledge of the play and my own ideas of how I would transform the play. This made me so much more aware to new things within the storyline and new possibilities.

It was eye-opening.

Jack Thorne based his version in 1980’s Berlin on the border between the East and West during The Cold War. The world is torn between Capitalism and Communism. Meanwhile the young soldier Woyzeck tries to make a life for himself, his girlfriend Marie and their child. In the play the East is painted as an area controlled by the Soviets, with its citizens in an oppressed and controlled state with the West idealised and controlled by the British to be the complete opposite. But what is interesting to see is that through the characters we soon begin to question whether or not they are actually free within the midst of poverty and social status.

Steffan Rhodri as Captain Thompson.

The play followed a linear structure in terms of storytelling which contrasts to the original play, with Büchner’s play feeling quite disjointed in its smaller scenes. Thorne recreates the language that is used and turns Woyzeck into a much more conversational and lengthened out production which worked extremely in his favour in terms of relevance to today’s audience. I was a bit skeptical at first but warmed to it 3/4 way into Act 1. Büchners intentions were evident and there were references to his themes throughout the play.

John Boyega takes the lead in this production, commanding the stage showing his power from the get go alongside his down to earth Irish girlfriend Marie (Sarah Greene). They compliment each other nicely in their roles. There was a moment in Act 1 when Woyzeck took Marie to look out at the East’s skyline in the evening. The stage dimmed and a warm orange light illuminated the pair downstage as they sat on the edge of it creating a magical moment for the two.

Boyega as Woyzeck with Greene as Marie.

Act 2 had me questioning everything.

In a good way.

It featured a bed scene with Andrews having sex upstage with Maggie, the Mother and Marie simultaneously with an unstable Woyzeck parading around the stage with his mind deteriorating. Maggie/Mother (Nancy Carroll) was incredible. Her performance was exquisite making her a delight to watch. Thorne’s spin on the original script made her character have much more importance within the plot and it was a nice touch on his part. Mixing Andrews with Andres and the Drum Major was also another clever move by Jack Thorne. I enjoyed this concoction of characters as it made the play much more interesting to watch. Andrews does bare all, in every sense of the phrase, bringing that spark of fun and like-ability to his character.

Boyega completely transformed in Act 2 and we saw a real sense of journey within his character from the man that is coping to the man who is in despair. His performance was electrifying and fully committed. Much like his other half Greene who was consistently believable in her performance as Marie.

Tom Scutt’s set consisted of movable walls that were lifted and lowered and moved across the stage. These created fantastic scene changes with the aid of lighting and music. The walls themselves were made out of insulation and this added to the idea of the play getting hotter and hotter in line with Woyzeck’s mental state. I thought the idea of them living in a flat above a halal butchers to be really clever as the further into the play we got the more the set revealed gory insides from these insulation walls. It reflected the demise of Woyzeck.

Overall, whilst it wasnt the ‘original’ Woyzeck it was still Woyzeck. It was a Woyzeck that is accessible for today in terms of real psychology and backstory for a contemporary audience. It’s linear structure was a narrative and held the essence of what Woyzeck is. It was a credible production, one Thorne should be extremely proud of.

Greene shows a delicate strength to Marie that compels the audience.

Woyzeck runs at The Old Vic Theatre until Saturday 24th June 2017.

Photos by Manuel Harlan.

Rehearsals: Week 4

It’s the weekend and after over a month of not drinking, it’s finally time to crack open the bottle and get swigging. The main reasons I was partaking in a Dry May was because a) I wanted to save money and b) I wanted my skin to clear up.

In recent weeks, my skin has indeed felt a lot smoother – which is more than I can say about my finances. All the budgeting I’ve mastered by cutting out alcohol has basically been for nothing after a midnight splurge on new clothes and a new pair of trainers – they are beautiful though. But I figured its been a long time since I treated myself and after the last few weeks I was in need of some materialistic loving.

To say this process has all gone smooth and dandy would be an inaccurate lie; one I wouldn’t be able to say with truth.

I think that’s quite normal though with any production when you’re putting things on its feet. For the most part it has been enjoyable but on the whole, I haven’t exactly loved the process and I don’t quite know why. This is unusual for me because I usually love putting on a show and being creative.

There have been times where I’ve absolutely hated it and myself for that matter, often having to make the most of my lunchtime by getting out of the building and into the fresh air for a bit of normalisation and reassurance before going back in and trying again. This time round with a more positive outlook in my bounce.

It has been a strange journey, I think a lot of my peers would agree with me on that one.

BUT

There have been times where I’ve loved every second of it. So I guess you could say I’ve been going back and forth from one extreme to the other. What has helped me ‘pull through’ is the support from my friends. We’ve all had our bad days and we’ve all been there to pick each other back up again and laugh at ourselves. Meditation has also been my saviour during rehearsals. It has cleared my mind and helped me remain focussed on the task ahead.

This week has been a week of cleaning things up and glueing everything together to make the piece work. It’s also had a further 2 choreography days in which we completed more numbers and improved those that were already existent. On Friday we also had our first dress rehearsal and this went quite smoothly – obviously there are still sections that need changing but on the whole it went quite well. We now have Monday as a spare day to perfect our work before heading into a whirlwind of tech and dress runs starting at 9:30am and finishing 12 hours later.

Next week will kill me. Emotionally, physically and mentally. But that’s what show week is like.

As a class we’ve all decided to pick a person to look after during the show to keep their spirits up. I’m a big fan of quotes – they always brighten my day. I think a lesson to be learnt from this experience would have to be that in life, what you give power to has power over you. Whilst at times its been a struggle to escape the spiralling negativity that has been quite prevalent in both myself and the outside exterior it has been a reminder for me not to succumb to this and let it cloud my vision for what is to come.

It has been a rollercoaster. But I’m determined to make the highs outlive the lows. In a weeks time this will all be over and I will have to say goodbye to my ‘woodlandish’ roots and mechanical madness. In months to come I’ll look back on this experience and begin to miss the fun I’ve had creating the roles.

Adios for now but be sure to check out my earlier posts on our production.

The DreamingRehearsals: Week 2Rehearsals: Week 3

Rehearsals: Week 3

Week 3 is finally coming to an end, leaving us with just under 2 weeks left until our opening night. This week seems to have bolted past my eyes before I could even get a chance to blink. It’s gone crazy fast.

Perhaps too fast.

For me, this week was a turning point. A step in the right direction. My previous worries and fears have gone out the window. My mind felt clear. Less fog and more clarity.

And with clarity comes progress.

Progress in the form of character. This week I think as a group, both collectiviely and individually, the mechanicals were able to connect more to their characters and to the dynamics within the group. We got some pretty amazing work done this week despite the minor frustration during an ensemble number in the earlier part of the week. However rehearsals are like that. You have your good days and equally you have your bad days.

Having said goodbye to the bad days we quickly moved on to choreographing more numbers in the show, as well as cleaning previous numbers. In this weeks heat, at times it was unbearable but definitely necessary. No pain, no gain and all that jazz. My favourite of the new choreo would have to be ‘Catch me if you can.’ We use our lanterns to entice and bewilder the four lovers throughout the number leading them into a maze-like trap in some ways. I think its going to look really effective under the lighting.

The dreaming is a really interesting adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘A midsummer night’s dream’ and it has been really fun putting it on its feet. Next week is primarily a week for adding on and joining up the divisions between the two acts and creating a solid production. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us but I’m prepared to make it a success.

We all are.

To find out more on our production click here.

Rehearsals: Week 2

With rehearsals now under way for our end of year production ‘The Dreaming’, the show is really coming together. Characters have been established and songs have been brought to life. Just 10 days in, we’ve already created something we’re all extremely proud of.

This may all change however, as with any production changes are inevitable. Changes in blocking, in choreography or in characterisation. To me this is what makes it exciting. Sometimes you think ‘well what was the point in spending all those hours on doing it that way?’ but to me it’s all a part of the process. You can only get to where you need to be by starting off from the base of what you think should happen. It’s from this point on where the magic all happens. It’s here that you find new things and get to explore and play with what could be and what could work. With characterisation it’s all about finding your character tear through an element of truth in terms of the play and the outside world.

In my production, I will be playing the role of Walter Grubb, a butchers boy. He’s a member of an acting troop that will be putting on a play for Lord Julian. In the play he plays both a princess and the rear-end of a dragon. We were fitted for costume on Friday and the visualisation is incredible. Friday was also a day of choreography. We finally got to meet our choreographer, Matthew Cole, who choreographed 2 numbers for us. It was a long day but one well spent. In the play I will also be playing a Boy Woodlander (ensemble). It’s here where all the fun happens. There’s nothing I love more than being creative with a strong cast in an ensemble number. They carry the show, I believe, and in terms of backstory you’re entitled to a whole world of possibilities.

This week has been a lot more proactive than the first week had been, I feel a lot more comfortable in my roles and it’s just exciting to see it all come together and watch thee story unfold. I’ve been collapsing into bed every night as soon as I reach home, which is always a good sign of hard work. I lead the warmup on Thursday, introducing a series of fun corner exercises that I love doing to the cast. They really enjoyed it so I guess I shouldn’t rule out teaching dance as a future career opportunity. On Friday we created a massage train to relieve the strains of the week – this was much needed. But for now though, it’s time for a bit of relaxation as I enter into the weekend on my travels to Bristol. I do have my script with me to get the lines more embodied into my body and mind – no rest for the wicked I’m afraid.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend – have fun!

For more on The Dreaming click here.

The Dreaming

It’s finally time to introduce you to ‘The Dreaming’. With rehearsals well underway I’m very excited to get this show up on it’s feet. In just 6 weeks time (9-10th June 2017) I will be performing my very first show here at Trinity Laban.

The Dreaming is a musical created by Howard Goodall and Charles Hart based on William Shakespear’sA Midsummer Night’s Dream’. For our auditions we had to prepare two contrasting contemporary-legit songs for the first round. In terms of recalls we were then asked to look over material dependent on the character casting. For my audition I chose two beautiful songs that I would definitely use again for the future. My first choice was ‘She’s a Woman’ from ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’. Kiss of the Spider Woman is a musical with music by John Kander and Fred Ebb, with the book by Terrence McNally. It is based on the Manuel Puig novel ‘El Beso de la Mujer Araña’. It tells the tale of Luis Alberto Molina, a gay man who is in a prison for corrupting a minor. He lives in a fantasy world to flee his current life, the torture, fear and humiliation. His fantasies revolves around movies, particularly around Aurora – a vampy diva. Moline gets a new cell mate –  Valentin Arregui Paz, a Marxist revolutionary who has been badly tortured. Molina has to battle against telling the guards Valentin’s secrets, falling in love with Valentin and staying sane in this cell. It’s such a beautiful story and the score is equally as beautiful. ‘She’s a Woman’ highlights Molina’s heroism of what he knows to be masculinity. It tells his story well. My second song was from ‘Grey Gardens’ by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie, based on the 1975 documentary of the same title about the lives of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (“Big Edie”) and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale (“Little Edie”) by Albert and David Maysles. The song was titled ‘Drift Away’. This too was a really good song for me.

 

So far, the music is incredible and the script is filled with such comedic writing. I have been given one of the ‘mechanicals’ roles – Walter Grubb (The butcher’s boy). Having just completed a read through of a few scenes I am completely in love with the chemistry the mechanicals have with one another. It’s filled with comedy and wit – a pair Shakespeare, like Goodall, does well. In terms of characterisation and costume there is so much to play about with and as a member of the mechanicals there is some really great scenarios I get to have fun with, which is always exciting! I also get to be a member of the ensemble in the form of Angel (Oberon) ‘s Boy Woodlanders. Today we had a really insightful and engaging discussion about who they are and where they may have come from. This sparked curiosity and a or of creativity. It was interesting to hear different people’s viewpoints. So far its been a really two-way creation between us the performers and the directors. I’ve definitely got my research to do but I’m thrilled to begin the journey. I’m beyond excited to get to work with our choreographer Matthew Cole on the show also.

For now though its off to rehearsals, Day 3.

To learn more about a different project I worked on  click here.

A reflection on Shakespeare 

Shakespeare concluded at the tail end of last term but with a new beginning on the horizon, we are reminded of the past in the form of assessment grades. For those of you who don’t know me that well, it is safe to say, I was apprehensive about opening up the feedback sheet from my tutor. This is because whenever I approach a classical text, Shakespeare in particularly, I never feel as though I’m able enough to live up to the role in a way deemed ‘correct’ by others.

Analysing and studying a Shakespeare text is difficult enough, as you’ll all probably know from past experience in English lessons throughout the years, but then try reiterating that in your acting performance. In my case – what I want to get across to the audience doesn’t always necessarily read that way when it comes down to it. But grow with it I will and over time this will get easier to achieve.

Perseverance is key.

And the key to shakespeare is commitment. In my experience I find you have to pay attention to every little detail that’s given to you in the text, from how it is written to how the language used.

Look for the clues within the text and try to make sense of it in your own trail of thought. It’s amazing just how much you can link to your own mind without you even realising.

However, the struggle is real. You will face problems and you will be depleted. But what you wont be is defeated.

You stick at it and you get rid of those blocks, whether it be mental blocks in terms of not understanding a phrase or vocal blocks in terms of not driving the phrase more with the correct muscularity and technique. It happens to the best of us and what’s really important with classical text is that you carry on and make sure it lands correctly. This comes with practice and you can be ensured that the more work you put in, the more benefits you will receive from it.

We had 4 weeks to work on this piece of work and at times it was a struggle but at other times it was exciting.

A few friends and fencers rehearsing for their Shakespeare assessments

I was paired with Hannah – my ‘fake’ Scottish friend who was actually born in Taunton, Somerset and later moved to a little village called Ballantrae on the west coast of Scotland. Her role was Phoebe in Shakespeare’s comedy ‘As you like it’. A young shepherdess who disdains the affections of Silvius. She falls in love with Ganymede, who is really Rosalind in disguise, but Rosalind tricks Phoebe into marrying Silvius.

I was her onstage lover Silvius. A young shepherd desperately in love with the proud and disdainful Phoebe. Following the conventions of the love poetry of the time, Silvius prostrates himself before a woman who refuses to return his affections. In the end, however, he wins the object of his desire. Not only did I succeed in winning her heart, I also succeeded in winning over the audiences hearts as noted in my feedback stating that I “presented such a loveable character, as was apparent by the audience’s response. This work had a lovely honesty, and naiivity, appropriate for the character.”

This involved me acting like a complete dork, blinded by love for a woman who doesn’t love me back. When she looked upon Ganymede, my character was compelled with jealousy and sadness. It was a fun role to get into and it was great to actually challenge myself and work on my West Country/Somerset accent. Once I got going it was great, however in those first few rehearsals the accent was diabolical. It was great working with Hannah, we had a laugh – a few too many on my behalf and I can now fully recite almost all of her lines.

In the end I actually came out quite surprised with my result. I thought I’d be lucky to scrape a C on this assignment but in the end I mastered a B. A grade up from my B- in last terms naturalism piece.

* strike your best victory pose *

Strangely enough acting has been the discipline that I’ve done the best in out of the three since being here at Trinity Laban. I say ‘strange’, because acting is the discipline I have the least confidence in but I guess my hard work has paid off. I’m very please with my progress not only in acting but also in my singing and dancing. In both I’ve progressed, improving from C’s the first time round to B-‘s this time round for my rendition of Kurt Weill’s Speak low – in which I created a scenario where there was two Hollywood male lovers in 1940s who were planning to run away together to be happy and be true to themselves instead of disguising their sexuality by dating film co-stars. My characters lover had just finished telling him, he couldn’t go through with it because he was scared of what could happen, which is when the song kicks in.

* heartbreaks and promises 🙁 *

And of course for my dance assessment of Dollie Henry’s Jazz lesson/routine. I wasn’t as confident walking out of that assessment either. But it turned out well in the end I guess. And I now have more of an insight as to what I need to work on in the future.

The man, the myth, the legend…

Next, though, is The Dreaming. Our end of year show. More to follow on that, real soon.

If you’d like to read my earlier post on entering into Shakespeare, click here.

Lizzie Musical UK

On 23/02/2017 I had the opportunity of obtaining free tickets to a new show off the west end during it’s previews. It was day 2. I’d never been to the Greenwich Theatre before, it’s so close to where I’m living as well. There’s a nice little social hub area before you take your seats were people were conversing over wine and gin and tonics. It felt quite fresh and vibrant in a social way. With music by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt, lyrics by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Tim Maner and book by Tim Maner, Lizzie is based on an original concept by Alan Stevens Hewitt and Tim Maner. This new production comes to London following a run at the Frederica Teater, Denmark in January 2017.

Taking our seats we were greeted with this view.

Immediately you could recognise the rock elements to the show. It was exciting. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a ‘rock’ show before. I went in knowing nothing other than recommendations from friends informing me that the singing was phenomenal. This is one of my favourite things about not knowing anything about a show because you go in not knowing what to expect. You either leave inspired or leave disappointed.

The latter on this occasion wasn’t an option for the night. The actual structure of the show was set out in more of a Rock concert setting as opposed to a rock musical and I think this is one of its greatest selling points. It gets people interested in the show and it’s definitely something to talk about. I don’t think it would have worked if it was staged similarly to most musicals. At the interval it was definitely a topic of conversation between myself and my friends. I was enticed from the moment the show started.

The music was electrifying and the vocals were insane. It’s one of them shows where the lyric drives the plot line and so you find yourself listening extensively to the lyric which in essence draws you in much more. The lighting that was used really caught your eye, it complimented both the music and story line, capturing your gaze at just the right times through a quick flash of fluorescent bright white lights to deep orange tones throughout.

The show tells the story of Lizzie Borden. An American woman who found herself in the middle of a murder trial in the hot summer of 1892, in small New England city – Fall River, Massachusetts. The murder victims were her father and step mother. This at the time became a media sensation that got hundreds of people speculating and her story has become an American Legend. It’s bold and it’s mysterious. The whole show is captivating.

For the first 15 minutes of the show I was sat like the reserved theatre goer I am with a gentle tapping of the foot making sure that I wasn’t distracting anybody too much but by the end of the second half I was bobbing and ‘rocking’ away uncontrollably. Okay not exactly rocking but still you get my point. The music is incredible. It has such a different quality to other shows I’ve seen at present. Lizzie is such an interesting concept.

I think that the beauty of the story is that you watch it unfold before your eyes through Lizzie’s kind of distorted way of life. The more Lizzie is entrapped by her own mind the more the story goes into somewhat of a state of frenzy. Watching this take place on stage is mesmerising. Bjorg’s performance is impeccable and the other three leads are all on par with her performance. I couldn’t fault any of them – each were different in their own way, often complimenting each other as well as contrasting with each other.

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The cast and creative were absolutely incredible and I got the chance to take part in the Q&A session after the show. Here’s a link to a live feed I posted to my Facebook. Lizzie Q&A  (not the best quality I apologise)

In the session they talked about how the show has been created and the different versions that has been produced over the years. This version featured an incredible international cast – Bjorg Gamst as Lizzie, Bleu Woodward as Alice, Eden Espinosa as Emma and Jodie Jacobs as Maggie.

What was really nice to see was 4 amazingly strong women up there on the stage kicking some ASS, especially with the situation that’s going on at the moment across the pond and across the globe really. It felt very relevant and the use of rock music complimented this. It was a rebellion on stage. I loved every single moment of it and it was thrilling to watch.

My favourite moments have to be the love story between Alice and Lizzie, Jodie Jacobs fantastic comedic portrayal of Maggie and my favourite songs would be – This Is Not Love, If You Knew, Maybe Someday, Will You Stay and Mercury Rising.

If you do manage to get any spare time on your hands I implore you to go and see this show. It is incredible. And please let me know what you think also.

Lizzie runs at the Greenwich Theatre until 12/03.2017.

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Photo Credits – Soren Malmose

Auditions and why I decided to turn down my offer at Urdang

Yesterday, I was involved in helping out at my drama school’s audition process. A process, I, myself was involved in this time last year. It’s crazy to think how fast it’s all came around. I remember my auditions so clearly. Looking at the auditionees yesterday reminded me of those same feelings I was experiencing last year.

Nervous, driven and determined – I wanted to do well.

I had a few friends with me at the audition on my particular day at Laban – shoutout to Lauren Gibbon and Tara Moore.

My audition at Trinity Laban

Upon entering the audition room we proceeded to get warmed up to Vicki’s famous music mix which consisted of the Pussycat Dolls and Dreamgirls ‘One Night Only’. It involved a lot of cardio, stretching and a hands/arms movement that to this day I still get wrong. We learnt exercises from the corner and then mastered a routine, later in which we would have to perform it to the panel and the sea of people auditioning.

After completing this we went onto learning a short snippet of ‘Twenty Million People’ from My Favourite Year. In small groups we had to improvise a scene prior to the musical interlude. Next came our first choice song. I had been suffering from a persistent cold during most of my auditions and I just so happened to have chosen a Tenor’s song for my auditions despite being more of a baritone in vocal range. So when I did get up to sing I was constantly thinking – DON’T FUCK THIS UP.

My voice just wasn’t at the level I had hoped it to be on that particular day. However I proceeded on to the next half of the audition. Myself and the panel alone. This was where I got to showcase everything I had prepared. Two contrasting songs, a solo dance piece and a monologue. I started with my monologue which was about a drunk Russian on a train explaining his life. I even brought in a hipflask with me 😉 Next was my song – I was told to get angrier and my acting teacher, Helen, got up with me and work-shopped the song making me box with her. It was another one of those moments where the room was spinning and I felt free.

Then came my dance solo – a contemporary dance choreographed by myself to ‘When the tears fall’ by Tim Hughes. At this point I was majorly out of breath but the panel continued to ask me questions, I had to briefly stop, twice for water but I answered them all eventually. I just remember it being a really good day in general, I liked the atmosphere, the location and the people. so I remained optimistic. Out of all of my auditions Trinity Laban was the place that I got to workshop my material the most.

This was exactly the reactions I saw from the people auditioning yesterday. They looked like they were having an amazing time. Being on the other side this time round was crazy. It gave me an insight to how I was actually marked based on my audition and all the different factors that contribute to it being a YES or a NO. It was a great learning experience for me, I got to look at the different features within performance through others that didn’t quite work and relate them to my own performance. Physicality is a big thing and how one presents their self to a panel is another factor that can contribute to you either getting a place or not. It was eye-opening. I’m glad I helped out.

Urdang

Speaking of auditions, two weeks ago I received an email from the Urdang Academy inviting me back to a funding audition this year. Last year when going through the process I decided to defer my place at the academy for financial reasons, so technically, if I wanted to, I could start at their institution either on the diploma course as they originally offered me or on the degree in September of this year. For the past two weeks I’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of going, or not, to try out the funding audition again.

My original idea was – why not, its free and it would be good to get more of an inclination as to how they feel about me? On the other hand my brain was debating like crazy analysing whether or not it would be a good idea and what I’d actually gain from it. I already have my place on my 3 year degree at Trinity Laban and I’m absolutely loving it so why would I want to jeopardise that? Urdang, like Trinity, was one of the schools that gave me a fuzzy feeling inside when auditioning there, I really did enjoy it and the glimpse of training I experienced on that day. When I received the email it got my heart feeling excited all over again  and so in order to make sense of it all I confided in my friends and past teachers on the matter.

Urdang is an exceptional school and I am by no means slating it but when thinking things through thoroughly I decided to decline the opportunity to audition there again. I’ve settled in well here at Laban and feel as though it’s the best choice for me, who I am and what I hope to achieve at the end of my 3 years. I guess you have to trust your gut and trust the information it’s giving you.

But for now though its back to my Valentines Day plans – Palentines: Sharing Valentines with your Pals. A concept thought of by a few of the second years who have invited us all round to their home for an evening of games and wine. Have an amazing evening everybody and good luck to all you auditionees out there. Shine like the stars you’re destined to be.

NOTE: The featured photo is a shot from when I was dancing at the Jellicle Ball. I felt it was appropriate for the stagey topic of this post.