Drama School

Lately, I’ve been preparing to audition for drama school (as I will have to apply later this year). At first I thought that I would just audition for all the top schools in London and maybe I would get a place somewhere and everything would be fine. However recently I have realised that it isn’t that simple…

The Truth About Drama Schools:

  • It’s expensive. I thought I had far more options than I actually do, because I was under the impression that every BA (Hons) degree course could be funded by a student loan, when in fact a lot of drama schools require you to self fund your place (and realistically, who has £40,000 lying around?).
  • Not every school will be right for you. Each course is different, and if you’re more of a dancer there is no point going somewhere that focuses mainly on acting. Also the atmosphere in a building can differ, as well as the kind of students who attend each school. I have only visited one drama school so far, but this is a useful thing to do as you can start to see what you like/don’t like in a school.
  • If you don’t get into a three year course first time, there aren’t many backup options. Of course you can take a gap year, but if you want to stay in education there aren’t many 1 year courses available that don’t cost the earth (as you can’t apply for a student loan for these sorts of courses).
  • It’s a bigger decision and more serious process than you think. It’s all well and good having the ‘drama school dream’ but in reality you will have to attend this school for about 3 years, and you will have to live there (so making sensible decisions is vital).
  • Many drama schools don’t have accommodation. Often, some drama schools are independent and therefore you will have to find somewhere to live nearby (and for an 18 year old leaving home for the first time, getting a flat in central London could be quite daunting). It’s as much about the area surrounding the school as it is the school itself, as a safe/nice location can make all the difference.
  • Saying that you’ll just ‘audition everywhere and go wherever I’m accepted’ isn’t the best idea. Each audition will cost about £45, so if you go to 10 schools you’ll have to find nearly £500 before you’ve even begun paying tuition fees. Also, not all of these places will be good for you or right for you, so you need to research all your options and think about what you want.
  • I knew that drama schools are hard to get in to, and the audition process is very competitive, but some schools have around 2 thousand applicants for about 30 places.

However I’m glad that as I’m researching my options more and actually evaluating where I should apply, I am learning a lot about what my future could hold for me. I’m hopeful that I will gain a place at one of the drama schools I audition for, but there are always other options so I’ll continue to keep learning.

Another topic that really interests me is the ‘uni vs drama school’ debate, so I will probably be posting about that once I’ve looked into it. University has always been an option I’ve considered, but at the moment I’m pretty convinced that it’s not right for me.

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Paloma ‘Passionately Hates Musicals’

As The Voice UK returned to our screens this evening, I decided to watch the show as usual. I was sad that Tom Jones would no longer be a judge, but I was looking forward to seeing what Paloma Faith and Boy George would bring to the series. So far, I love Boy George, and I’m surprised that more acts haven’t chosen him as their mentor. Paloma was hilarious and seemed lovely, but then she made a statement that really upset me. 

Obviously, as a musical lover myself I am biased. I’m a musical theatre student who has loved performing since I was 2 years old in my ballet classes, so it’s difficult to express my views on her comments in a neutral manner. I am not annoyed that she doesn’t like musicals, because I understand and know that many people in the world share that same opinion. As a judge on a talent show, and a professional musician, I felt that Paloma made a statement that was very unprofessional. Many talented people who work in the same industry as herself have worked in musical theatre, including one of her fellow judges (Boy George, who has written a musical). By saying that she “hates all musicals with a passion” she is insulting the careers of many other professional artists and musicians, which shows a huge lack of respect for a huge genre of music. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion; but when hopefuls are auditioning for a TV show, and one of the judges slates the music they have chosen to perform, they are going to feel upset and that they were perhaps not successful in the process because of their taste in music. 

As I previously mentioned, I don’t have a problem with anyone disliking musical theatre, but there is a difference between stating that it’s not your cup of tea and saying that you ‘hate it with a passion’. As it is an opinion, you have to state that personally you have other interests, and not that you hate it and think that it’s terrible. I think the way she so casually insulted a huge worldwide industry, which is very closely related to the industry that she works in, was disgusting and her thoughts should have been voiced differently. Let’s not forget that Paloma herself was in the cast recording of ‘Finding Neverland’, and yes you guessed it, that is a musical. She then proceeded to take to Twitter, where she replied to tweets about her claiming that she ‘loves Grease and Rocky Horror’. I think this was simply an attempt to shield herself from the huge amount of angry viewers that thought she should have been more careful with her words. 

The performers and the vocalists in musicals are incredibly talented people, most of which have spent years and all of their savings training so that they can do what they love. For Paloma to degrade this art form in such a bold way was very shocking, as musical theatre is a huge part of a lot of people’s personal and professional lives. 

Would she have slated other genres and styles of music in this way? Jazz? Country? Blues? No. So I don’t see why she was allowed to tear down a form of artistic expression that is just as valuable as the female pop industry. 

   
    
   

5 Steps to Help you Select which Show to see

1) Decide whether you would rather see a play or a musical: You can determine this by considering if you would rather hear music and enjoy dance performances as well as acting, or just acting on its own. 

2) Research what’s on: The best way to do this is on the Internet, so you could search for West End (or Broadway) productions, or search for touring companies performing in a theatre near you. The other option is to see amateur plays/musicals, as they will generally be cheaper than professional productions, but may not be quite as good (depending on which amateur company you see). 

3) Read all of the synopsis’ of all of the shows that catch your eye: You could even listen to the soundtrack of a potential musical, but knowing whether you find the subject matter of the piece interesting is the most important thing. When reading reviews try and read a few if you can, as they may all have written about different aspects of the show, and may have mixed views on the quality of the piece. 

4) Pick which show appeals to you the most: and then you will of course need tickets. Decide whether you want to sit in the stalls or the grand circle etc, and of course consider your budget during this time. 

5) Finally, book your tickets for a date that works for you: (and that is not sold out already) and enjoy the show. 

A few extra things for you to consider:

1) Is this going to interest the age range I am booking for? (will it be inappropriate for your children, or aimed at far too young an audience for the elderly) 

2) Will this show still be around in a few months time if I don’t see it now? (If a show is only due to be performed for a limited time, and your other choice is one of the longest running musicals, I would suggest seeing the other show first before it leaves the theatre). 

3) Are the cast good? (If there have been incredibly poor reviews stating that the cast are all incredibly untalented, you may not enjoy the show so much). 

4) Do I want to cry or cry with laughter? (Depending on what mood you’re in, and what sort of thing you enjoy watching, you may want to tailor whatever show you pick to what emotions you want to feel. If you want to cry, go and watch Les Mis or Miss Saigon, but if you want to laugh, go and see Matilda). 

5) Do I want to see a new show, or relive an old experience? (Seeing a new show is probably the best option for most people, as some may see it as a ‘waste of money’ to see the same show twice, or they just want a change. However if the last time you saw something was years ago, or you really want to see your favourite show again then go for it! – After next month I will have seen Les Mis three times, and Wicked and Matilda twice , and I regret nothing). 

University Fees (Specialist Arts Training)

As you may know if you have read my blog before, I want to be in the musical theatre industry when I’m older, as a performer. To be able to achieve this dream I have decided I would like to go to university. I researched several of the well known schools, and soon began praying that I could take out a loan large enough to cover the extortionate fees for taking a 3 year course.

These establishments are not only hard to get into (as they are so popular, and are only looking for the best new talent), but they are incredibly expensive to attend – with some courses adding up to about £40,000. This is of course without the cost of living in London, which would also amount to a huge debt, and that is very worrying. I have read articles about Andrew Lloyd Webber and other well known theatre personalities delivering speeches recently on why fees should be lowered, and I could not agree more!
Imagine: the richest student at the audition is the least talented, but is able to attend as they have the funds to support themselves. However, a student who comes from a family who aren’t as wealthy, but is very talented, may not even have a chance at auditioning due to their low budget. Money does not define who is more talented than who, or who will work harder or who is more deserving of a place.

I feel that it is unfair to make students rely on bursaries, scholarships and loans which they may never be able to pay back. Perhaps the government should consider reducing fees for everyone, or even just those who really cannot afford to live their dream. So much talent will go to waste if something is not done to provide students who need financial support with the reassurance that they can still attend university, and not have to worry about any sort of debt.

Everything’s as if we never said goodbye

When was your last blog post?

January, so about 5 months ago.

Why?

Unfortunately, I am at the age where I have to sit tonnes of exams (GCSEs), so I haven’t been able to write any blog posts as school seems to take up the majority of my time. I now only have 4 exams left, and I thought this was long overdue. 

Advice for people taking GCSEs next year?

  • Start revising a few months in advance, even if it’s only a little bit
  • Don’t underestimate how much work you have to do
  • Prioritise subjects you want to continue studying after GCSEs (and revise them more) 
  • Try not to cry
  • Make a pile of notes and books of subjects you have finished after your exams are over, so then you can destroy it all 

What musicals/plays have you seen this year so far? 

  1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the nighttime (but I had to write an essay on it and take notes during it, so I probably missed a lot of it) 
  2. Cats 
  3. Matilda (for the second time) 
  4. And next week I’m going to see Children of Eden 

What sort of blog posts will you be writing once your exams are over, and when is that?

My last exam is on the 12th of June, so after that point I should be able to start posting again. I’m not really sure what I want to write about, so maybe I’ll just see what inspires me. Of course if there is anything I get asked to write about I will, but we shall see. 

Theatre Bucket List

Firstly, thank you so much for getting my blog to just over 1,000 views, I’m over the moon! It may not seem like a lot, but I have not even had this blog for a year yet, so I think it’s progressing pretty well.

Also I would like more suggestions and requests for posts people would like me to write, so you can send these to me at: justamusicalgal@gmail.com
Or on Twitter: @justamusicalgal

Another little update before I begin this post properly, I now have Instagram! Follow me at: @justamusicalgal for more regular updates.

So most people have some kind of idea of a list of things they want to do in their life. So, here is my take on a theatre/performers bucket list:

1) Be in a West End/Broadway/Professional show (Status: incomplete)

2) Train at a top theatre school (Status: incomplete)

3) Be a character at Disneyland, or a performer in their parades and shows (Status: incomplete)

4) Be signed to an agency (Status: I used to be, but I decided to leave to focus on school)

5) Be in a television drama (Status: I was once an extra in a BBC drama called What Remains)

6) Be in a film (Status: incomplete)

7) Release a Musical Hits CD (Status: incomplete)

8) Be in a famous musical e.g. Les Miserables (Status: incomplete)

9) Be on an original cast recording (Status: incomplete)

10) Be nominated for/win an award, or be invited to an awards ceremony e.g. The Olivier Awards

Let me know any more that you would add to my list, or if you have indeed achieved any of these goals.

J Is For January

First of all, happy new year! Thank you for just over 900 views, I know my posts aren’t that regular at the moment but I’m hoping to update my blog more often this year. So, here is my list of J themed favourites for this month:

1) Jersey Boys
Currently playing at the Piccadilly Theatre, Jersey Boys tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I have wanted to see this musical for a really long time, as I love the soundtrack and have read excellent reviews of the show. This is on my list of must sees for this year, so fingers crossed I’ll get to see it!

2) Jesus Christ Superstar
I’ve had the soundtrack of this show on constant repeat since the new year began, and I’d have to say it’s definitely my current favourite CD. So if you’ve never listened to it before, then I’d highly recommend it.

3) Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
This is one of my all time favourite musicals. I own the soundtrack featuring Jason Donovan, and I love every single song in the show. Sadly I saw it years ago so I can’t remember too much about what it looked like, so I’m hoping a new production of it will crop up soon.

4) The Jungle Book
This was my favourite Disney film when I was little, and still is to this day. I think this is one of Disney’s best ever films, and I would love to see a musical version of this one day!

5) James Corden and Johnny Depp
The Into the Woods film has been in cinemas for a while now, and I still haven’t seen it, so I’m still really looking forward to it. I’ve heard very positive reviews, especially ones about James Corden’s role in the movie, so this is a must see for this year.

6) Gypsy (not quite a j, but close enough)
The Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of Gypsy is due to transfer to the Savoy Theatre in the West End in April, along with the incredible Imelda Staunton continuing her run as Momma Rose.
This will be the first time gypsy has been seen in London for 40 years, and I hope it doesn’t sell out too quickly as this is something I would really love to see! Definitely on my list of must sees for this year.

Are The Arts Appreciated In Schools?

So I have been having a very busy time at school recently, as I am in my final year at school studying for my GCSE’s. On top of that I like to take part in all of the performances going on, so I have been involved with the dance show, the school musical and the school carol concert.

While I enjoyed this term and had a great time performing, it obviously took up a lot of time, and this also meant some lesson time had to be sacrificed. The majority of teachers accepted this and let me catch up with the work I missed from their lesson, but some other teachers didn’t seem to agree with the idea.

As well as disliking the fact that we are busy with other areas of school life, it has come to my attention that GCSE results are handled differently when it comes to the performing arts. I take drama, dance and music at GCSE, and although I will be credited a separate grade for dance and drama, the school will not. This is because they are seen as “too similar”. This, I do not agree with.

Firstly, dance requires 4 pieces of practical coursework to be performed, as well as a written exam. Whereas drama requires 2 pieces of written coursework, a theatre review, and a practical exam. This automatically makes them differ from each other.

As well as this, being able to act does not mean you are a dancer, and this works both ways. I don’t see why the school should get any less credit for someone who has a passion for drama and dance, than for someone who has a passion for geography and history.

There may be another reason as to why they are seen as similar which I am overlooking, but personally I think they are very different subjects. Dance requires a lot of revision for the written exam, whereas I do not revise for drama except when I have lines to learn.

So really unless you go to a stage school, the education system just doesn’t seem to appreciate how demanding these subjects actually are. They are not easy at all. Especially music, as this requires just as much revision as any academic subject would. So when pupils are presented with options of what they want to study they shouldn’t be guided away from creative subjects by the teachers, as really all subjects are equally challenging in their own right.

Many schools in my local area have scrapped all of these subjects from their option blocks, and even as extracurricular activities. I think this is a great shame, as many pupils that went there with the hopes of taking a performing arts subject would have been devastated.

I think schools really need to start thinking more about this issue, as it’s not all about getting more pupils to take very academic subjects. It should be about making students who have a talent and a passion for other things able to take the subjects they want, and allowing the school to get just as much credit for these as the academic subjects.

Into The Woods Film: First Impressions

Due to be released in the UK on Christmas Day this year, Into The Woods is looking good so far. From the trailers that I have seen I think it could be brilliant! Here is one of the trailers so you can have a look for yourself: http://youtu.be/2Byk9Is3TjY

The Witch – Meryl Streep
I love Meryl Streep. I think she has a great voice and is an amazing actress, so I think she’s perfect for the role. She is one of the biggest names in the film, and although I usually dislike the use of celebrities in films just so more people will go and see it, she will be one of the best things about the film I’m sure.

The Big Bad Wolf – Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp is one of my favourite actors, as he is just so versatile! He is an incredible actor, and he has a pretty good voice too. Although his singing isn’t as strong as his acting (in my opinion of course) I think he will be an asset to the movie.

Cinderella – Anna Kendrick
Probably best known for her role in the film Pitch Perfect, Anna has a really good singing voice. Technically speaking, she probably does not have the right kind of voice for musical theatre, but at least she can actually sing.

The Baker’s Wife – Emily Blunt
A great actress, but I have never heard her sing, so I will be interested to see what her voice is like. Again, I do not know if technically she will be as able as a trained musical theatre performer would be, but she is a very good actress so I’m sure she will not disappoint.

The Baker – James Corden
I am a big fan of James Corden’s work, and I believe he went to stage school, so I have a feeling he will be excellent as The Baker. Hopefully he will bring some technique to the singing aspect of the film, and he could end up being one of the best things about the film.

Other cast members include:

Cinderella’s Prince – Chris Pine
Cinderella’s Stepmother – Christine Baranski
Cinderella’s Mother – Joanna Riding
Lucinda – Lucy Punch
Rapunzel – Mackenzie Mauzy
Rapunzel’s Prince – Billy Magnussen
Red Riding Hood – Lilla Crawford
The Giant – Frances de la Tour
Jack – Daniel Huttlestone
Jack’s Mother – Tracey Ullman
Florinda – Tammy Blanchard
The Baker’s Father – Simon Russell Beale
Grandmother – Annette Crosbie

I shall be uploading another post of a more in depth review after I have seen the film, as this is just my brief first impressions. So, watch this space.

This or That Tag (Musical Version)

This tag is mainly done by beauty gurus and fashion bloggers, so I thought I’d put my own spin on it. So, I filled a hat with the names of 20 musicals, and I had to pick out 2 at a time. I also have 10 “would you rather” categories (it should all make sense in a minute). So here goes:

1. Which would I rather see?
Jersey Boys or The Book of Mormon:
I was so annoyed when I got these two for this category, as they are both at the top of my list for shows I want to see next! But I’d have to say The Book of Mormon purely because I want to see I believe live really badly.

2. Which would I rather be in?
Les Miserables or Grease:
Ever since I have wanted to be in musicals I have wanted to be in these two. I have been in two productions of Grease (read about one of them in my post: The Understudy), and that was really fun so I would love to be in a West End version. But I have to chose Les Mis as I desperately want to be either Eponine, Fantine or Cosette. Imagine going out on stage and belting out one of the tragic songs from one of the greatest musicals of all time? I think it would be incredible to be a part of.

3. Which would I rather marry a character from?
Cats or Miss Saigon:
I knew straight away I would like to marry Chris from Miss Saigon. Who wouldn’t? I think I’d marry him and then sing Sun and Moon with him. Perfect.

4. Which soundtrack do I prefer?
Billy Elliot or Starlight Express:
I love the music from both of these shows, but several of the songs from Billy Elliot really move me (Mainly The Letter). So, I would have to chose Billy Elliot.

5. Which choreography would I rather perform?
The Wizard of Oz or Moulin Rouge:
I am currently in a production of Moulin Rouge, and although I love the show I’m not a big fan of the choreography. However I love doing the classic “wizard of Oz step/skip” that Dorothy and Co do on the way to Oz. So I’d have to pick dancing in Ruby Slippers over CanCan skirts.

6. Which would I rather was real?
Thriller Live or West Side Story:
It would be cruel to wish West Side Story was real, even if I would love to meet all the Jets. So, Thriller Live it is.

7. Which main character do I prefer?
Fame or Blood Brothers:
Fame is a great musical, but I don’t feel like I connect with the characters the way I connect with the Blood Brothers cast. Blood Brothers really moves me and Mrs Johnstone is one of my dream roles, so I would have to chose Blood Brothers.

8. Which costumes would I rather wear?
Matilda or Phantom of the Opera:
The costumes from Phantom are beautiful and very elaborate, but I have a huge desire to put on a Matilda blazer and sing Revolting Children, so I’d have to chose Matilda The Musical.

9. Which set do I prefer?
High Society or Wicked:
Let’s face it, who doesn’t love seeing the gorgeous emerald city and the ending of Defying Gravity? Also even the curtains have a beautiful map on them, so I think Wicked wins hands down.

10. Which would I rather see everyday if I had to?
Oliver or Joseph:
I really love Oliver, and it was one of my childhood favourites. But I can never get bored of the Joseph soundtrack, and it would be pretty cool to be able to see the Technicolour Dream Coat come to life every night, so Joseph is my winner for this category.

And there you have it, The This Or That (Musical Theatre Version) Tag.

Now normally at the end of a tag, the blogger is supposed to tag other blogs to do it as well. But seeing as I don’t know who it would chose, I tag any musical theatre or theatre blogger reading this to take on the challenge, and let me know you have completed it so I can read yours too. You could do this tag with any musicals or plays of your choice, so give it a go, and I look forward to reading more from this tag.