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.
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.
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.