Month: October 2014

Audience Members: Take Note

Yesterday evening I went to see Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End, and it was amazing! The cast were all extremely talented, the music was of course amazing and I can’t even begin to count the number of times I got goosebumps, it was so moving (I cried several times), the set was beautiful and so well thought out, the helicopter was spectacular and overall it was an amazing show.

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However, I am quite short, and I happened to be sat behind a particularly tall man. Now don’t get me wrong, they stager the seating very well in theatres, but our height combination just didn’t add up. Having said that, I would have been able to see perfectly if he had been sitting up straight. As theatre goers will be aware, seats are arranged so people have a gap to look through (in between the two people in front of them). But, this man decided to lean to his right throughout the entire show so he could talk to his partner. This meant that I had to lean the other way so that I could actually see the stage, but as I’m quite small I don’t think this caused problems for anyone behind me.

Even though I did manage to lean far enough over to be able to view the performance, it got me thinking about things that audience members should consider. Things that they should know are okay to do, and things which are not. So, here’s a list of 5 things I think audience members should not do when at the theatre:

1) Eating during the interval is perfectly acceptable, I mean they do serve refreshments at the theatre after all. But, when there is an emotional and intense moment happening on stage and someone behind you is unwrapping a sweet, it can ruin and distract from the masterpiece in front of you. So please, eat before the show starts, and during the interval. But as soon as act 2 starts, please for everyone’s sake, put it away.

2) Using your phone. Fair enough, check your messages just before the show starts or during the interval. However when the overture starts your phone should be switched off. It can be very off putting to see a bright screen shining out of the corner of your eye, and it’s very disrespectful to those on stage who have worked hard to perform for you. Also, if you have paid a lot of money for your ticket, why text through the whole show? Make the most of it, you can use your phone anytime you want, but don’t waste the opportunity to watch the show you have come to see.

3) Please do not talk the whole way through the show. I think this one speaks for itself. It’s rude and distracting, so please save your comments for the interval and the end of the show.

4) Please sit properly in your seat, unless you have a specific reason why you cannot do so. I discussed my annoyance for this earlier, so I think you get the picture now.

5) You should always check how long the interval is, and keep track of the time. There is nothing more annoying than being ready for the start of act 2, the curtain going up again, and then having to stand up to let someone in your row back in. It blocks the view of those behind you, and disturbs all those around you. Just be sure to make it back to your seat in good time before act 2 begins, and then no one will complain.

But aside from all of this, do give standing ovations to shows that deserve it, do be polite and respectful to other audience members, do clap at the end of every song, do read the programme thoroughly, and do enjoy the experience. Going to the theatre is supposed to be an enjoyable thing to do, so don’t spoil it for others.

Childhood Memories

I recently did a blog post about school musicals, and yes, most young children do take part in these. But I feel that not enough children are being taken to London or even to their local theatre to see professional productions. I think they should get to have those kind of experiences, as it could open doors for them creatively. And if not, at least they gave it a go.

As a child my whole family loved musicals, and they still do, so I was exposed to them from a very young age. I went to ballet at the age of two and a half, and then soon joined other dance classes as well. I loved musicals and performing throughout my childhood, and I had seen many local professional productions and other shows up until I was 7, but I had never been to see a West End show. So, on my brother’s 10th birthday, we went to see Disney’s The Lion King.

That day I realised what I wanted to do with my life. I had always known my purpose in life was linked to performing and musical theatre, but seeing this show changed everything. The actress playing Rafiki at the time (I sadly can’t find the programme, so I cannot name her) was incredible! She had such a powerful and rich voice, as did all the cast. I was blown away by the amazing costumes and talent I saw that evening. It really was a magical moment for me, because it confirmed for me that this was where I needed to be in the future.

I think that being creative as a child really helps as you get older, even if you just want a hobby. You never know, a child could be incredibly talented, but because they do not know much about an industry, or think it is a possible career option, they could never get to share their talent with the world.

So parents and teachers, please think about this and encourage your children and students to go to the theatre. If the West End is too expensive, then go to your local theatre one evening, or enrol your child in an art club or a youth theatre company, and maybe a child’s life could fall into place just like mine did.

West End and Broadway Halloween Style

So Halloween is fast approaching, so I thought I’d share some musical villains you could dress up as on October 31st! Of course there are plenty of Disney villains who would make perfect costumes (some will be featured here), but I’m taking more of a West End and Broadway approach.

1) One of the Cell Block Tango Wives from Chicago (this is what I dressed up as last year)

2) Scar from The Lion King

3) The Wicked Witch of the West or the East from The Wizard of Oz

4) Inspector Javert from Les Miserables

5) The Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera

6) Sweeney Todd, Judge Turpin or Mrs Lovett from Sweeney Todd

7) A flying monkey from Wicked/ and or The Wizard of Oz

8) Miss Trunchbull from Matilda

9) Bill Sykes or Mr Bumble from Oliver

10) Bernado from West Side Story (or any of The Sharks)

11) The Scorpions, ChaCha or Rizzo (although she isn’t a villain, she is a very negative character) from Grease

12) Jafar from Aladdin

13) Joseph’s brothers from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat

14) Killer Queen from We Will Rock You

15) Lucy the Slut from Avenue Q

16) Lord Faquaad from Shrek

17) Madame Morrible from Wicked

18) Miss Hannigan from Annie

19) Roxie Hart from Chicago

20) Sharpay and Ryan Evans from High School Musical

21) The Thenardiers from Les Miserables

22) The Wizard of Oz from Wicked

And of course there are many more, but those are just a few of my favourites. This year I am going to a Heroes and Villains Disney/Musical Theatre party, and a friend and I are going as Maleficent and Aurora. I will post pictures of my costume on my twitter account which is @justamusicalgal
Happy Halloween!

School Musicals

School musicals. Love them or hate them, they happen every year. They give some talented students a chance to practice and improve their skills, and they give false hope to those who are cast “because everyone has to have a part”. But is the casting process in these shows realistic? Is it fair? We shall see.

In many schools it is a case of the older ones get the best parts, and the younger ones are usually just chorus members. “It’s their last show”, “You’ll get your chance when you’re older”, “They have more experience”. Yeah, right. This is not always the case. I understand that it may be their last performance with the school, but if they are not as talented as someone in one of the younger years, why should they be given the lead over them?

As a child I got fairly good parts, but I was usually an understudy who would be asked to fill in for a lead who was ill at the last minute. I was constantly told that I’d get my chance when I was older. And finally in primary school, I got into year 6 (the oldest year in the school) and I thought it was my time to shine. But no. That year they decided a year 4 should have the lead, as it is unfair to keep giving them to the older ones. Typical.

Then in secondary school, I was always a principal chorus member. Also, I continued to understudy leads, and as I mentioned on my blog before had to step in last year as Frenchy in Grease. And this year the production is Moulin Rouge, and I desperately wanted to be Satine. When I looked at the cast list it was the same as every year. The sixth form (the top of the school) were cast as the leads, and although I got a good part it was not what I had hoped for.

The other sad thing about these decisions is when you know you would work harder than whoever got the part over you, but the teachers just can’t seem to see that.

As well as this, some schools have started casting couples in the main romantic roles because they think it will be less awkward for them. Come on! It’s acting, people need to get over it.

Basically, it should be like a professional production. Whoever is the most talented, should be the lead characters, end of. Forget age, relationship status and other factors, the bottom line is the show will only be good if you cast the most talented kids. And if that means the youngest child in the show gets the lead then so what, they will do a much better job.

I’m sorry I haven’t written a blog post in so long, I’ve just had lots of school work to do recently, but I should be posting more regularly again soon. I’m in a play next week, so I may post about that, so watch this space.