musical

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.

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). 

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.

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.

Frozen The Musical?

Yes some of you may have already heard about this, but I wanted to research and find out the latest developments on this story.

But for those of you who do not know, the new much loved Disney film Frozen is going to become a Broadway musical! I am thrilled at this news as I think the film is fantastic, and the soundtrack is beautiful.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen, The film made more money in it’s debut weekend than the first showings of any other Disney animations, so it seems a musical would also prove very popular.

The cast of Frozen includes Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff, who are all Broadway stars, so in theory they already have a talented cast. Kristen Bell, who played the voice of Anna, has said she is hoping to make her Broadway debut in this musical, if she is asked to join the cast, which could be very likely.

The film won a Golden Globe for best animated film, so it really has been a huge hit. Disney’s CEO Bob Iger revealed the plans for this new show, but as of yet there is no creative team or timeframe set in stone.

But will this be a good move for Disney? They had so much success with the Broadway show The Lion King, which is spectacular and if you ever get the chance to see it then do! So will Frozen the musical ever be as successful? Will the casting directors ever be able to find an Elsa as talented as Idina Menzel? Or anyone who can sing Let it Go flawlessly in eight shows a week? How are they going to bring Sven and Olaf to the stage? We shall see.

I would love it if Frozen was a success on Broadway so it could transfer here into the West End, so fingers crossed!

No matter how long the creative process takes I think there is hope that this musical will become a reality, as they announced the news in January 2014 so some plans may be circulating soon!

Also Disney have created a website where you can sign up to receive emails about news of the show, so I will help you out with a link: http://www.frozenthemusical.com

The Frozen soundtrack, composed by Christophe Beck, is what really makes this film special in my opinion. The orchestral pieces are fantastic, and the songs I find to be very uplifting, almost like a ready made musical score!

But there has been talk that if the cast of the movie are asked to join the show, they need to solve the “Jonathon Groff problem”. The problem is that Jonathan’s character kristoff only has one very short song in the film – Reindeers are better than people. So if Frozen the musical does become a reality, another song will have to be written for his character, which could be risky as the current songs have been so well received.

So to conclude, here are my top 5 frozen songs:
5. Love is an open door (track 4)
4. In summer (track 7)
3. For the first time in forever (track 3)
2. Fixer Upper (track 9)
1. Let it go – Idina Menzel version (track 5).