Every year I attend a performing arts festival in which there are lots of different competitions spread across different catagories. The competitions usually are split into age groups so a 7 year old would not have to compete with say a 16 year old. However this year, as I enter my 10th year of competing at this festival, I ended up in an open age solo acting competition. The acting competitions, there are age groups up until year 11. Therefore, because I am in year 12 (1st year college), I was in the open age catagory. This meant that I was up against 40 year olds and older when I am only 17. This made me incredibly nervous as I thought with them being older they would have a lot more experience and the competition would be incredibly tough. I was right. However, I still wanted to give it my best shot and was not prepared to lose hope. So, I took a deep breath and got up to perform. After watching an incredibly funny and very well done comedy monologue I went with the mindset of “You know you wont win so just go out and do what you can” Which is exactly what I did. I performed a monologue from the play ‘Gut Girls’ by Sarah Daniels. The monologue I did is very sad and I had to really dig deep to get the emotion across. I got up there and did it. I did my best and felt that I had never done it better. The wait while the adjudicator was deciding the top 3 felt like years when in relity it was probably about 5 minutes. I really had no expectations whatsoever. I just thought “I tried my best but there is a lot of talent here today”. The adjudicator announced 3rd place and then second and at that point I really thought “yup never mind”. Then when announcing 1st place, she said my name. I could hardly believe it. I thought ” no way! You are 17 you can’t have just won an open age catagory”. I was completely shocked and very happy. Competing in that catagory was an amazing experience and really taught me the importance of believing in myself.
About a month ago I auditioned for my performing arts school’s production of hairspray. I had very low expectations and really did not expect to get very far. I’ve been performing with this company for years and I always have fun in the shows no matter what role I play. I auditioned for the role of Tracy Turnblad. Obviously with her being the lead I felt that I didn’t have a chance of getting it. After the first audition I was recalled. That alone was big news for me. I just wasn’t expecting it. However, I remained focussed and professional in order to give myself the best chance. I then got down to the last 2. The 2 of us were both called back in for recalls a further 5 times. This was rare with this performing arts company. They usually decide after 2 recalls. The audition day was successful and I felt that I truly became the character.
Then came the hard part. We waited almost an enitre month for the cast list to go up. It was weeks of nervousness, doubt and attempts at being patient. It was hard to say the least. I struggled to think about anything else the entire month (almost). Even my trip to London couldn’t completely take away the thought of it. If you have read my post entitled “back stage at wicked and west end live lounge” then you will know just how special tht trip was. So you can imagine just how much time I spent worrying about the cast list.
Then it happened. Monday the 26th of February. I had the LONGEST day at college I had EVER experienced as the nerves were just too much. However I finally went to stage (you will often hear me refer to my performing arts place as ‘stage’ as that is just our nickname for it). The cast list went up and I found that they have double cast Tracy. This means both of us get to take to the role for 2 performances each. I was so shocked when I found out that I couldn’t speak. I just cried. I really was not expecting to get the role as I thought the other girl was more suited to the role than me. I can not wait to go on this crazy journey as Tracy Turnblad. It will be a whole new adventure for me.
People often ask me what my favourite musical is and I find that such a difficult question. I have so many that I love for so many different reasons. So in response I usually list my top 5. There is no order to this I don’t like one more than the other but here are my top five…
For me wicked will always be a very special show. I have grown up listening to the soundtrack. It came out when I was 3 years old and I used to sing along to all the songs. Very recently I got the chance to see wicked on stage. It was my very first time seeing a West End show and it was truly magical. I also got the opportunity to go back stage and see the set and stand on the stage. This was a crazy experience and made the night very special. My experience that night made my love for the sow even greater. I feel the story line is very clever and the way the tied in the wizard of oz story was genius. It’s funny, its heart breaking, its magical, it’s pretty much everything you want to see in a show, I dont think I will ever stop loving this show.
2. Les Miserables
This show is just too special. It is one of the most emotionally draining shows but it is beautiful and the music is stunning. The character of Eponine has been my dream role since I was little and I have spent far too many days belting ‘on my own’ in my bedroom. The whole show is beautiful and I couldn’t love it more if I tried. I have seen some amazings versions of the show with some of the best portrayls of the characters. It truly is a exceptional production, One that will always be close to my heart.
3. The Wizard of Oz
This show may not be my favourite in terms of the storyline. However, it wall always have a special place in my heart. The song ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ has always been a huge anchor for me ever since I was little. If ever I had a bad day I would (and still do) play this song to help make it better. It’s a song of hope and that was really important for me. My attachment to this show grew stronger in 2010 when Danielle Hope took to the role of ‘Dorothy’ in the revival cast. Since the beginning of the reality TV show ‘Over the rainbow’ I knew that Danielle was special. I was 9 years old and had unknowingly found the person who would become my biggest inspiration, the person who motivated me to push through whatever challenge might be thrown at me. Danielle took to the role of Dorothy expertly and it is now her version of ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ that I use as my ultimate ‘pick me up’. Watching videos of her in the role made me see the show in a whole new light. I suddenly became more attached to the story and the characters. I am in love with the show and the sound track and I don’t think that will ever change.
This is a new one for me. I first listened to this in 2016 and completely fell in love. It contains a lot of comedy but it also contains a lot of dark themes and the balance between the two is perfect. I have only seen a recording of this show but I am SO excited as it is coming to London this spring. The songs are beautifully written and they take you on an emotional journey. I always feel so connected to the characters every time I listen to it. The storyline is beautiful and engaging. It’s a new one of my favourites but I really do love it.
This is a massive show in theatre at the moment. I feel that many people either love it or they hate it. I am definitley one who loves it. It was quite a different show for me as it was rap which I don’t usually like to listen to. However, it is so cleverly written and I get lost in the story every time I listen to the soundtrack. I hope that one day I get to see it on stage because I am so emotionally attached to this show that I dont think my desperation to see it will ever go away. All of the songs are excellent and I love the sense of repetition throughout the show. You hear some of the same tunes repeatedly in the show and it’s amazing how they all link with each other.
These are my top 5 however there are some musicals that I could not bring myself not to mention.
- Miss saigon – stunning show with stunning music and a beautifully heart breaking storyline.
- In the heights – Another of Lin Manuel Mirandas marvelous creations. It truly is a beautiful show.
- La Cage Aux Folles – I saw this for the first time last year and it moved me deeply. Its a gorgeous show and so very underated.
- Grease – I love this show and it’s a lot more light hearted than my other favourites. I also have some very special memories associated with this show.
I recently got the chance to see Wicked in London. This was my first ever west end show and it was incredible. Just before I go in to detail, I will just put the list of the main cast that were on that night:
- Elphaba – Alice Fearn
- Glinda – Samantha Thomas
- Fiyero – Bradley Jaden
- Madame Morrible – Melanie La Barrie
- The Wizard – Andy Hockley
- Doctor Dillamond – Martin Ball
- Boq – Jack lansbury
- Nessarose – Sarah McNicholas
I don’t even know where to start with this amazing production. I loved every second of it. From the opening note to the finale, the show was just unreal. The set was visually stunning and really cleverly done. It all worked so smoothly and just made the story more realistic.
I now need to take a moment to talk about Alice. Alice Fearn played Elphaba in the show and wow she was something else. I have always said that Idina menzel was my favourite Elphaba. I have seen many different interpretations of the role but I thought no one could do it as well as her (though many have come close). I have believed this for so long that I thought I’d never find someone I liked more in that role. However, Alice completely changed my view on that. I am quite an emotional person, I’m not going to lie and say I’m not. That said though, it usually takes a lot to make me cry in theatre because I’ve seen so much that it won’t affect me unless it is ridiculously sad or performed expertly. So when I cried at the song ‘The wizard and I’ I knew that Alice was something special. ‘The Wizard and I’ isn’t even that sad as a song but the hopefullness that she portrayed in that song combined with her stunning vocals just got to me. I cried at every single solo she sang as they were so well acted that I honestly believed it was real. I have seen the songs performed a million times by lots of different actresses but I have NEVER cried at them before. By the interval I was just a complete mess. ‘Defying gravity’ ends acts one and it was the best rendition of that song I have ever heard. Being able to belt the notes you have to belt to play Elphaba is a skill in its self. However, being able to belt them in such a powerful way, while dangling in the air and acting so perfectly is just so difficult. Yet Alice seemed to do it so effortlessly. Stunning vocals and outstanding acting, what more could you want?
I also need to give a special mention to Samantha Thomas. She is actually the first cover Glinda not the “main” one. However, this did not mean by any measure that she wasn’t as good as the “main” Glinda. I have only seen small videos of the “main” Glinda (Sophie Evans) so I can’t really say that much about her. However, from what I have seen she is incredible. Samantha however, I have a lot to say about. She was just phenominal. Before seeing the show I had yet to find a favourite Glinda as I’d never seen anyone play it in a realistic way. The closest I had found was ‘Emily Teirny’ who was amazing at the role. I’ve always thought that Glinda has a lot of emotional depth to her and there is a sort of darkness to the character. Especially towards the end, the character has to show lots of emotion and grief. Although the character is very over the top a lot of the time it is vital to me that I see the other side of Glinda. The song ‘Thank goodness’ is a prime example. It should be very emotional as it is Glinda trying to be happy when she has lost her best friend. So for me that song is always the ‘make or break’ for the actress. I have to see the sadness behind what she’s singing. Samantha was exceptional at this. She got the fake sense of happiness perfect and really brought across the saddness her character was actually feeling. It was incredible. It made me cry, again. That’s when I knew that Samantha was my favourite Glinda and I was SO glad I had finally found someone who brought everything I was looking for to the role. She wasn’t only amazing at capturing Glinda’s more sensitive side, but she also got the comedic elements of her character perfectly. She did one of the best renditions of ‘popular’ I had ever seen. I laughed all the way through it and the vocals were perfect. The role of Glinda is vocally demanding to say the very least. She sings some ridiculously hign notes in the show. So I was blown away by how perfectly Samantha hit them and sustained them. Her voice is like pure gold. I never wanted her to stop singing.
With two of the most incredible leads this show was always going to be phenominal. As amazing individual performers, combining the two was insane. Both of their voices worked really well together and were stunning to listen to. However, I am well aware that a show isn’t only made up of the two leads, so I’m not just going to talk about them two. Bradley ( Fiyero) was absolutely incredible. He was amzing at singing and acting. I really enjoyed his performance throughout the show. Wicked also had a very strong ensemble. The ensemble are the first to come on stage at the start of the show so they kind of set the bar for the entire show. From the very first note and the very first movement I knew that the show was going to be amazing. The cast was highly talented. The vocals were strong and all the movements were sharp. They were visually stunning to look at. Overall, I don’t think a single member of the cast was weak in anyway. They were all ridiculously talented and gave outstanding, believable performances. I was in awe of them right from the start. I really have no critisisms of the cast which is odd. As usually I would have something negative to say. However, this show was just special and just surpassed all of my expectitions. I found my new favourite Elphaba and FINALLY found a Glinda who did everything I’d always wanted to see in a Glinda. It was my first time watching a west end show and after that knock out performance, it certainly will not be my last. What a cast!
I have just got back from a short trip to London. Being a northern girl, the opportunity to go to London did not just come up every day. So now at 17 years old I finally got an opportunity that I was not prepared to miss. I have been a supporter of a West End actress named Danielle Hope for the past 8 years. She is a beautifully talented actress and one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. Since 2014 she has done tours around the UK which allowed me to see her on stage. As prior to that most of her work was down south. As I was quite a young child at that point when my mum said I couldnt go to London as it was too far, I just went with it. So I actually got to see her on stage for the first time in the UK tour of joseph in 2014. Then every year we found a time to go see her. However, I knew it would get to a stage when she wouldn’t tour and would do things more London based. I then decided that I was going to save up as much as I could over those years so that if she ever had a year of just being in London I could go see her. So this year, with no announcement of a tour or show away from london as of yet, I knew it was going to be time to use those savings. Danielle announced that she was going to perform in West End Live Lounge. The following day I bought tickets. That’s where it all began.
So after booking the hotel and train tickets and finishing off all of my coursework for my deadlines at college, it was finally time to go to London. Given that I’d wanted to go to London since I was old enough to talk, I was just a little excited. After what felt like the longest train journey of my life I finally arrived in London. We spent the day exploring London but i wont go into too much detail as I don’t want to bore anyone.However, I must mention our stop at the theatre cafe. The theatre cafe is just a normal cafe that sells drinks and snacks. BUT everything in there is theatre related. They have a jukebox type thing that plays musical theatre songs and you can choose the song you want on. All of the drinks are named after shows or show quotes. For example, there was: ‘Chai can shoe you the world’, ‘My fair latte’, ‘Charlie and the Hot chocolate factory’ and my personal favourite ‘Defying gravi-TEA’. Also, the walls were covered with posters and props from West End shows signed by the casts. Everything about the cafe was any theatre lovers dream. I also enjoyed randomly bursting into song along with half of the other people in the cafe.
In the evening we went back to the hotel to get ready to go out to watch West End Live Lounge. Here’s the point where I need to mention Lili or anyone reading this will get a little confused. Lili is my internet best friend (Saying that she isn’t really an ‘internet’ best friend anymore, just a best friend). Strangely we met on instagram through Danielle Hope. We started talking over 3 years ago and have been best friends ever since. In July 2017, we finally got to meet. Then we both booked tickets to see West End Live Lounge and decided to meet up beforehand. We went for tea before the show and then went to the show together. When we got to the theatre, early, we saw Danielle. We spoke for ages and took photos and gained a lot of advice and knowledge about the theatre industry which was really useful to me. It was a magical time and it was so lovely to catch up with Danielle and Lili. Then the show started. There was some amazing talent on stage that night (Hardly suprising as they were all west end stars). I was completely blown away. Everyone was ridiculously talented but there were three people who stood out to me. Danielle (biased or non biased opinion I don’t care she was incredible), Cleve September (just Youtube him he’s insane!) and Kayleigh Mcknight – Her rendition of the song ‘creep’ brought me to tears. The end of west end live lounge marked an end to a truly amazing day. I was so emotional when it ended. However, I knew that the next day would be just as incredible.
Day 2 started off with a lot more roaming around and seeing theatres. We ended up seeing a total of 38 different theatres while exploring London! Then around 3pm I got a message from Danielle confirming that there were two tickets waiting for me at the box office of ‘Wicked’ under her name at a discounted price. This excited me A LOT. The seats were 4 rows back in the stalls which was a pretty amazing view. I was so ready to see my first ever west end show after waiting my entire life. However, the magic did not end there. A close friend of Danielle’s was the first cover Glinda in wicked and Danielle asked her to take me on a tour backstage at the theatre after the show! Due to Sophie’s (main Glinda) absence, Danielle’s friend (Samantha Thomas)was performing that night. This made me very happy because my friend was also lucky enough to see Samantha as Glinda and despite how amazing I knew Sophie was at the role, I needed to see what my friend meant when she said Samantha was so ‘Real’ with the role. Now I get it. So wicked was amazing and I just cried my way through (Review definitely to follow this post) but going backstage was a whole new experience. I got to see all the wigs and costumes, all the little waiting areas for the cast and the quick change spot. However, the one thing that will stay with me forever was standing on the stage. It has been my dream since I was tiny to stand on a west end stage. Yes I may not have performed on one but its one step in the right direction. Samantha was also very lovely which made the whole experience even better. Not only had she just become my absolute favourite Glinda after making me cry, she also gave me one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I am forever thankful to her and Danielle for giving me that magical moment and the most amazing two days of my life.
I am currently studying Musical Theatre at college. It was a scary decision for me to make as it meant that I couldn’t study any subjects that would help me if theatre doesn’t work out. However, I knew that theatre was all I wanted to do so I had to take the risk. So far I think it was the best decision I have ever made.
Everything about college makes me so happy and I love the course more than I could possibly say. It’s a lot of hard work and some days I am left emotionally and physically drained but I constantly feel that i am developing my skills and improving as a performer. We have had opportunities to go see shows, compete in competitions and perform in showcases and it is an amazing experience.
One of the best things about my course is the people on it. We have been together less than a year and we are already like a massive family. We help and support each other through any challenge we might face and I honestly could not ask for better people to share this crazy journey with. We can cope with whatever is thrown at us together and performing on stage with these massively talented people is always an incredible experience. The second years are also some of the most amazing people I have met. They are always ready to offer advise, help us out and make us laugh until our stomachs hurt. It’s going to be so sad seeing them all leave at the end of the year but I know they all have an incredible future ahead of them.
I’m not going to pretend that college is always the happiest time for me because it’s not. There are some days when I feel so low and I have no confidence. These days are tough and draining. However, I get through them with the help of my tutors and my amazing second family that I have with the people on the course. The good days always outnumber the bad and most days I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather be. I know this is what I want and that gives me the motivation to push through any challenges I might face.
The tutors at college are the best. They are funny, kind and amazing at their jobs. I honestly feel like I could talk to them about anything which is such a refreshing feeling to have. It’s great to know that they are supportive and they will always do what is best for us. They have this way of motivating us and pushing us to achieve our maximum potential. That makes college even better for me as I am constantly progressing.
Overall, I am having the best time at college and steering away from normal A levels was the best decision I have ever made. Please feel free to talk about your personal journeys with theatre training in the comments. I would love to know how others find it and what types of training people have done.
Stage Door is more than just the actors exit now. Many fans and supporters use it as a way to meet those who inspire them. This is a very contriversial topic as many agree with it and many do not. Some think that the actors should be left alone to go home after a long day at work while others think that it’s ok to go and congratulate and thank those who have just entertained them. I personally think that, if it’s not taken advantage of, there is no harm in stage door.
I have had many plesant moments at stage door that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Meeting those who have inspired you for so long is a beautiful feeling and one which I love to experience. However, some people can make stage door a very unpleasant experience for the actors, and this is where I start to disagree with it. If you are going to meet someone who has just performed on stage to entertain you for 2 hours then you should always be respectful.
There are often moments when actors can not stay and meet people after the show. For example they could have a photoshoot straight after or they could just be too tired after a very long day. It is important that in this instance, people respect that decision and just leave them be. I have seen occassions where an actor has not been able to come out of stage door and people have taken to social media to bad mouth them and tell the world how nasty they are. This is absolutely NOT ok. People have reasons for not doing things and it is awful to see selfish people disrespect that actor for doing what was right for them. People should always remember that it is a privalidge to go to stage door and meet the cast. You do not get a guaranteed meet and greet jut because you bought a ticket for the show.
However, if you do get the opportunity to meet the cast, you should also show respect to them in that moment. Sometimes people forget that they are humans too and they have feelings. There is times when people just walk up to people and shove cameras in there faces or shout at them to get their attention. That is rude and thoughtless. You should always start by congratulating them on their performance and actually speaking to them before anything else. Show them your appreciation. Do not just take a photo and run off. Obviously, if you are nervous or at a loss for words as you are so shocked by meeting them then that is different. My first ever stage door experience was meeting someone who I had looked up to for years. So when she walked out of stage door I completely froze. Luckily for me, she tried to talk to me and then I could finally speak. At that point, after you have spoken, it is ok to ask for a photo. If they say that they do not want a photo then do not force them or try to take one anyway. Respect their decission and move on.
I always like to spend more time talking to the cast rather than getting them to sign things and getting photos. The last thing I do is get a photo or autograph as I think it is more important that the actors know how much you appreciate their work. A photo will probably mean nothing to them but words will make them happy. After performing for you, making them happy and comfortable should come before materialistic things.
Of course this is my opinion and I’m very open to other peoples opinions so please feel free to share yours. I’m interested to know everyones views on this one.