musicals

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).

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Musical ‘Wish list’

As we are now approaching 2017, I’ve seen a few shows catch my eye recently that I would love to see. The last performance I saw in the theatre was The Phantom of the Opera (which was incredible) and so now I’m compiling a list of all the other shows I’d like to see. Some have been running in the West End for a while, and others are newer shows, so if you’re looking for an evenings entertainment I hope this will give you some ideas:

  1. Hamilton. Everyone is talking about this musical, and thankfully it is coming to London in 2017 (it may be impossible to get tickets, but this show about the history of American politics is definitely one to watch).
  2. Rent. There is a touring production of Rent that may be on its way to a theatre near you soon, so keep a look out (their recording of Seasons of Love was released on their social media and the cast sound fantastic).
  3. Dream Girls. Starring one of my favourite actress’ (Amber Riley) I’m so excited to see this show because the music is incredible and with a cast that talented, it’s going to be a great show.
  4. Mamma Mia. I find it strange that I haven’t already seen this smash hit musical, but as I’m in love with the film and the soundtrack, I think this fun filled show will be a must see for me next year.
  5. School of Rock. This musical recently opened, and as a Lloyd-Webber fan who loves the original film, I think I would definitely enjoy this show.
  6. Side show. With a very limited run, you’ll have to get in quick to see this one, but I think it will be worth it (it features some great songs such as I Will Never Leave You and Come Look at the Freaks).
  7. The Book of Mormon. Again, I’m not sure why I still haven’t seen this show. It’s soundtrack is brilliant, and I think it would be hilarious and enjoyable to watch.

Let me know if you’ve seen any of these shows and what you thought of them. Also, if there’s any shows on your theatre wish list that you think other people should know about, you can also let me know in the comments.

 

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.

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. 

   
    
   

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. 

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.

N is for November

It’s November! One of my favourite months as it is now the lead up to Christmas, and my birthday is this month. So I thought I’d share some of my favourite “N” things…

1) NeverLand the home of Peter Pan. The Disney animated version is one of my all time favourite films, and the music is gorgeous, so I’ll definitely be getting this DVD out this month.

2) Niall Horan from One Direction. Now this may seem a bit off topic for this blog, but of course people who love musicals also have other music that they enjoy listening to. They are one of my favourite bands and I’ve loved them ever since they were on the X factor, but I’m not a crazed fangirl. I really like their latest song “Steal My Girl” and I’m really looking forward to the release of their new album!

3) Narnia (aka The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe). I adore these films, especially the 1st and 3rd. They are beautifully made, and the soundtrack is amazing! My favourite is the soundtrack to the first film, so I recommend you give that a listen. It’s also very appropriate to the current season as it’s now starting to become winter, so it’s perfect for watching at this time of year.

4) New York. Now, I have never been to New York but I can tell you this; it looks stunning at Christmas time! I am hoping to go in a few years time for a visit (mainly to see Broadway), but also just to be amazed by the scenery. For now though, I can just flick through photos of it and dream that one day I’ll make it there.

5) Newsies, with music by Alan Menken. I love this show! The soundtrack is great, and although it’s not one of my favourite musicals ever I still love to listen to it’s music now and again.

6) Next to Normal, with music by Tom Kitt. I have never seen this musical, but I have heard many a person rave about how good it is. So this month I’m going to listen to the soundtrack to see what all the fuss is about, and maybe I will have some new songs to add to my musical favourites playlist.

7) Lindsay Lohan (there is an n in Lohan I promise). Now you may think this one is cheating, but I just couldn’t resist adding this in. She is starring in David Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow, which originally featured Madonna. Now when I first heard this news a while ago, I wasn’t sure what to think. I love her in films such as “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen”, but I didn’t know if theatre was for her. But it appears her West End debut is the talk of the town, and the Observer’s review even states that Miss Lohan is the best thing about the production! So maybe, I will give her a chance, and go and see this spectacle this month.

8) Nicole Scherzinger. This is similar to the last one, but Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of Cats is due to open on the 6th of December 2014 and Nicole will be playing Grizabella. I am not the biggest fab of her work, although I do admit she is a good singer. But I worry she will not have the same technique that a trained musical theatre performer will have, even though she is a talented pop artist. Also, she is no Elaine Paige. But I may be being too quick to judge, so I will wait until her reviews come out, and then decide if I will go and see the show or not.

So that’s all for now, although I do have many more things I could have included in this post, but I do not want to go on for too long.

My blog is nearing 700 views, which may not seem like a lot, but I’m so happy with this! I started this blog just as a space to publish my thoughts, but I love the fact that people read it, so thank you. I will start posting more regularly, and I would love to take requests as to what I write about. So if you have a topic you want me to cover, please comment on this post, tweet me (@justamusicalgal), or email me: justamusicalgal@gmail.com

I Look forward to hearing from some of you! Happy November.