acting

The Top 10 Shows I Want to See Next

  1. An American in Paris (Dominion Theatre) – A beautiful Gershwin musical that is the talk of the West End, which I cannot wait to see in May!
  2. Mamma Mia (Novello Theatre) – This is a long running show, but I am still yet to see it. I love the film, and all of ABBA’s classic songs, so I think this show would be very entertaining.
  3. Motown the Musical (Shaftesbury Theatre)
  4. School of Rock (New London Theatre)
  5. The Girls (Phoenix Theatre) – After their stunning Olivier Awards performance, I would love to see this show written by Gary Barlow.
  6. Jesus Christ Superstar (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre)
  7. Hamilton (Victoria Palace Theatre) – Who doesn’t want to see this smash hit musical?
  8. Judy! (Arts Theatre)
  9. The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wale’s Theatre)
  10. Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (Duke of York’s Theatre)
  11. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2 (Palace Theatre) – Technically, this makes my list a top 11, but I couldn’t not include this play that was highly praised at the Olivier Awards!

I hope this list has given any theatergoers some inspiration (if you’re looking for an idea of what to see next). Of course there are tonnes of amazing musicals and plays in London and on tour right now, and this list names but a few. Let me know what shows you’ve seen recently (ones you’ve enjoyed, or even ones you didn’t).

Dealing with Drama School Rejection

Hello everyone, I cannot believe this is my first post of 2017! Better late than never I suppose.

In around October/November 2016 I applied to study Musical Theatre at three drama schools and three universities. I had one audition in December, two in January and one in February. I attended all three of the drama school auditions, and one of the university auditions, but as I researched into the other two universities (and thought about the fact that I would also have to pay to audition there and travel to these auditions) I decided to withdraw my applications. I’ll admit, I was hopeful that one of the drama schools would offer me a place, or even a callback, but that wasn’t the case. The one university I auditioned for offered me a place, but on a different course. Then, slowly, all of the drama schools rejected my applications and my dream seemed to be drifting further and further away from me. It was a very difficult time for me for several reasons:

  1. As I’d been accepted into a very good university, everyone assumed that I would just study there come September. Yes, I did consider it for a while, but I always had a gut feeling that it wasn’t the right thing to do. I didn’t accept or decline the offer, I just left it sat in my UCAS account while I made a decision.
  2. I currently study Musical Theatre at college, so of course almost everyone in my class was also auditioning for drama schools and universities. It seemed everyone was being inundated with offers, except me. We would all sit down discussing where we were planning to study next year, and people would be debating about which drama school they should go to (as they’d had multiple offers), or which uni they should go to (as again, they’d been offered several places). People would always ask me ‘Lucy, where are you going in September?’ and when I’d say I was unsure, I’d always get the same response ‘But you got into that university didn’t you?’.
  3. Rejection is hard to deal with on your own, let alone when you are constantly being compared with everyone else in your class, and around you. I have met lots of people over the years, and made lots of friends, who also auditioned for drama schools. I scrolled through countless ‘I got into drama school!!!!!’ Facebook posts, and this just knocked my confidence every time. Even without thinking about other peoples success, I was miserable. It was all I could think about, and all I could think was that I was a failure. People said to me ‘Maybe it’s not your time’ and ‘Just try again next year’ or ‘You could still go to university’.

This was the most uncertain I’d ever felt about my future, ever. I didn’t want to take a gap year, as I want to keep training and improving. Lots of people I know who take gap years never end up pursuing their drama school dreams (some do, I’ve just not met many people who do). So, from here I decided to stop moping around and look for more courses to apply to. The trouble with gap year courses and one year foundation courses is that they aren’t cheap, but I was prepared to do whatever is takes. I applied for a foundation course at a top drama school, and a gap year course at a theatre school which is fairly near where I live. I was considering applying for more gap year courses (as there are a lot out there) but I decided to see how my auditions for these two went first.

I auditioned for the drama school foundation course in March, and again, I didn’t get in. At previous auditions, I’d had to wait for a while to hear back from them (as to whether I had been given a recall audition or not) but at this school, they told you right there and then to your face. I’d held it together well at all of my other auditions, and when I’d heard back from schools. Of course, I’d cried over being rejected several times, but whenever news was given to me, I’d always been strong and put on a brave face. This audition was different. I felt like this was my last chance to go to drama school, and so when I was told that I didn’t even get a recall, I was devastated. I have never wanted to leave a building so quickly in my life, as I didn’t want to embarrass myself and let everyone at the audition see me so upset.

At this point, it looked like I was going to have to go to the local stage school for a year, which was difficult for me to accept. Luckily, I’d had an email from one of the drama schools I applied for, saying that although they didn’t offer me their three year degree, they’d like me to audition for their foundation course. I accepted the offer, as this was my favourite drama school out of all of the ones I had visited, and waited to hear back from them. The next piece of news I received from them was that I didn’t need to audition, they would just base their choice on my previous audition.

So I waited to hear from them, and during this time I was rejected from the other foundation course I was describing earlier. I’ve always believed in the term ‘everything happens for a reason’, but at this point I just felt defeated. The day after I’d been rejected again, I went into college and did my lessons as usual. At the end of the day we had a ballet class which I completed, and then packed up my stuff and looked at my phone. I had an email notification, so I frantically opened it and discovered that I had been given a place on a foundation course at my favourite drama school. I immediately burst into tears (of joy, of course) and my whole class ran over and gave me a massive hug. I then ran outside to tell my mum, who also shed a few tears over the news. I have to say, this was definitely the best moment of my life. Finally, I wasn’t a failure, I was going to a drama school, and it was one that I had fallen in love with when I auditioned. I still cannot believe it. I later declined my uni offer, and accepted my place on the foundation course.

After this experience I thought that everything really does happen for a reason. If I had been offered a place at another drama school, or I’d accepted my place at university, I wouldn’t have the offer that I have now (an offer that is the best thing to ever happen to me). I went through a really hard time, and I know that probably sounds ridiculous when there are people suffering and fighting harder battles than me all over the world, but I really did go through months of feeling lost. An analogy I used to describe those months of rejection was that I was stuck in a little wooden boat with no oars, there were holes in the boat (so it was sinking), the water was still and everyone was cruising past me in their luxury speed boats while I was stuck in my little sinking boat. Thankfully, someone threw me an oar when I was offered a place, and I have never felt so blessed and so lucky in all my life.

I think the message I’m trying to send here is to never give up. Yes, people say that all the time, but really, don’t ever give in. I went through knock back after knock back, but it was all worth it in the end. Just know that there is always something better waiting for you on the other side.

As I researched into a lot of options for what to do if you don’t get into drama school, I would like to share those with you (as they may help you out if you are still trying to find something to do come September).

  1. Go to university, work your hardest, and then complete a Masters Degree at a drama school (but remember, you will have to fund that extra year yourself).
  2. Start trying to find work and learn on the job as you go (get an agent, join casting websites, go to open casting calls and just try and see if you get any work even with no training). Another good way to get experience is to accept unpaid acting jobs (giving you contacts and credits for your C.V.).
  3. Apply for gap year courses and foundation courses (they will help you gain skills, but again remember you will need to fund this yourself).
  4. Create your own work. Find others in the same boat and set up a theatre company, write plays, write songs, enter competitions and get your own ideas out there.
  5. Make a YouTube channel where you post singing videos or acting videos, you never know who may end up watching it.
  6. Remember that you can always get a job (maybe in a theatre) and then re audition for drama schools next year.
  7. Is the drama school route really right for you? Have you looked into other courses that may interest you? A lot of people who get rejected are glad that they were, as it helps them discover another passion (maybe for writing or directing) so you could see where a different path may lead you. However, if you are determined to be a performer, then don’t give up.

I hope that this helps anyone who was also rejected from drama schools, or even to prepare people who want to apply for them at some point. Whatever happens, just know that it will make you more experienced, and you will have to work harder and for longer to get where you want to be, but that’s okay too. The struggles you face will make you more grateful for your success’ in the end.

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. 

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. 

The Understudy

It’s been a long time since my last post , as I have been so busy lately, but I’m back!

Anyway, one of the things I’ve been busy with was a production of Grease. I auditioned last year, but as I was doing another show (so I couldn’t commit to all the rehearsals), I was in the chorus. But then my other show finished, and Grease was pushed back a few months because it wasn’t finished. I was a cheerleader and it was a lot of fun, but I was given the job of being an understudy to all the female roles in the production. I was thrilled, but at the same time I knew no one would drop out so I didn’t think anymore of it.

Then the day before the show’s first matinee, one of the cast members sustained an injury. I was asked to step in at the last minute, so I learned the show in a few hours, and I got to play Frenchy.

I was really excited and nervous about the opportunity, but all I could think about was the poor girl who hurt herself.

On the night of the second show, we were having our microphones fitted, when the girl I took over from walked in. I took one look at her, and burst into tears and ran off.

I didn’t think I would react like that, because I hadn’t done anything wrong. I think I felt bad because she had worked so hard on the show, and she was probably really looking forward to it.

She was really nice about the whole thing, and I really appreciated that. She watched the show that night, and I just couldn’t look at her. I felt awful, and there was nothing I could do.

It got me thinking how tough it must be for understudies professionally. I mean, they probably feel like the second best option, and that’s not a nice feeling. Also they must feel bad for whoever they’re taking over from.

As well as this, they may hardly ever get to play the role at all, when they have spent just as much time learning the show as the actual cast member. So either way, it can make you feel upset.

Or you could look at it as a positive, as you still have a job, and you’re helping out when the show is in need. Also the cast member is probably relieved to know they have a reliable understudy, so really it must be an odd situation to be in.

This is all what I have assumed from the experience I had, so please correct me if I’m wrong.

After this I think understudies do not get enough credit for what they do, and that is a great shame. Every time I go to the theatre and it is announced an understudy is performing I think how incredible they are, and how I would never have noticed they weren’t the actual cast member themselves!

Jeffrey Tambor:
“My part had three lines. I said, ‘You look wonderful, sir,’ three times. All my friends said, ‘Do not take that role – and do not understudy. You’ll regret it the rest of your life.’ I did both of those things, and I’ve never regretted it once.”

Jon Cryer:
“I’ve been mistaken for a lot of people. Often for Matthew Broderick. I tell people not to feel bad. One of my first jobs was to be Matthew Broderick’s understudy. I was paid to look like him.”

In my opinion, understudies are heroes. Heroes waiting in the wings, to save the day.

The Musical Theatre Tag (edited version)

So this is the musical theatre tag! I have edited it slightly, as some of the questions didn’t apply to me, or I wouldn’t have been able to give a good answer. It is a list of questions about how musical theatre relates to me, so that my blog gets my views across as well as the facts.

1. Plays or musicals?
I love plays a lot, but I think it would have to be musicals. Purely because I love hearing an amazing chorus harmony, and seeing all the dancers performing flawless routines in perfect time! Also I love the way musicals combine acting, singing and dancing and still manage to tell the story. The plot lines that the musicals are based on are always great too, and seeing talented triple threats perform is really uplifting, even if the musical is sad or tragic. In a way that just makes musicals more powerful, as they evoke emotion not only through speech but through music and choreography.

2. When did you start liking the performing arts?
I started ballet classes when I was two and a half years old, and I fell in love with dance. So when I discovered I could do acting and singing too I was amazed and I discovered how much passion I had for the performing arts! My family are musical lovers too, so I’ve always listened to show soundtracks and been taken to see musicals, plays and ballets so I have been aware of the arts and loved the theatre all my life.

3. Ever been in a musical?
I have been in a lot of musical productions, plays and shows so far in my life, but none of them have been amateur and not professional. The latest one was this year and I starred as Dorothy in an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, which was a dream come true! I’ve also taken part in competitions in dance, singing and acting, so I have had a lot of experience which will hopefully prove helpful in the future.

4. What was the first musical you saw in the West End?
I had seen a lot of productions up until I was 7 years old, but none of them had been in the West End. Until finally I saw Disney’s The Lion King in London which was incredible! The cast all had such powerful voices and I really felt uplifted and moved by the performance. It really made me more determined to have a career in musical theatre, and I’m glad my first West End experience was as magical as it was.

5. If you could be any female character in any musical who would you be?
One of my main ambitions is to be in Les Mis, so probably Eponine, Fantine or Cosette. I would also love to play Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz! But for me if I am ever lucky enough to be in any musical I don’t mind which part I have, it would honestly just be a dream come true even if I’m at the back of the chorus.

6. Which male character?
Again I would love to be in Les Mis so Jean Valjean would be a fantastic role to play! Also Miss Trunchbull in Matilda would be fun, or Billy Elliot or one of the Jersey Boys, or Elder Price in the Book of Mormon.

7. Favorite musical song to sing in the shower?
I will sing any musical song in the shower, mainly I just sing whatever is in my head. Or if I’m about to see/ have just seen a show I will just sing anything from it’s soundtrack.

8. Who is your favorite theatre actress?
This is one of the hardest questions for me to answer as I have so many! Of course there are legends such as Judy Garland, Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson, but really I love any theatre actresses who I feel are amazingly talented. So I cannot really answer this question as the list would be too long and I’m sure no one would want to read that.

9. Actor?
Again this is very difficult, and I love Michael Ball, Robert Lyndsey, Ramin Karimloo, Tam Mutu and lots of other actors. Also there is of course a place in my heart for Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and all the other legends, so I simply do not know.

10. Favorite film adaptation of a musical?
I love musical films such as Grease and the Wizard of Oz, but I do not like a lot of the modern day film adaptations of musicals. I feel like they are just for celebrities who are trying to “sing”, just so more people will go and see the film and they will make a more sizeable profit. Although I do like the film version of Mamma Mia as almost the whole cast are very talented singers and I adore Meryl Streep!

11. What do you think is most overrated musical?
I personally think that West Side Story is overrated. Please don’t hate me. I love the musical and I think it is amazing, but I do not agree with the popular opinion that it is the best musical of all time. I do not think it is overrated because it is no good, because that is untrue, it is a wonderful musical and I recently saw
a production of it which was stunning! I just feel that it is not the best musical of all time, but only one of the best.

12.What musical made you cry?
I generally cry at every musical I see, even the happy ones. But of course the one that made me cry the most was Les Mis.

13.What musical made you laugh?
One of the things I love about musicals is the fact that every single one has lots of humour in it, even ones which are thought provoking or sad. But I have to say that Matilda, The Drowsy Chaperone and We Will Rock You were very funny and I found myself laughing frequently throughout the performance.

14.Are there any musicals you saw and hated?
Lucky, I have never seen a musical like this and I don’t think I ever will.

15.What musical do you want to see as a film?
Personally I think the less musicals that are made into films, the better.

16.Which musicals are you dying to see?
I am currently desperate to see:
Thriller Live
Once
The Book of Mormon
Jersey Boys
and The Phantom of the Opera.

17. What is your all time favorite musical?
I don’t think I have one all time favourite but I have three that I could narrow it down to, although even that was a difficult decision!
1. The Wizard of Oz
2. Les Miserables
3. Grease.

18. What would you do if theatre didn’t exist?
Nothing. I would have no plans for the future or anything that I was really passionate about, so thank goodness for theatre.