west end

My Response: Are West End Tickets Too Expensive?

Recently, this topic has been debated a lot, as Andrew Lloyd Webber has backed ticket prices and stated that they are ‘reasonable’. I however am undecided on the issue.

On one hand, the amount of time, effort and money that goes into the creation of West End shows is phenomenal. While local theaters and small scale shows are great, nothing compares to the experience of watching a West End production (and I think anyone who has seen one will agree with me). If you look through a show programme, you will see the names of all the creatives who worked on the lighting, the sound, the music, the people who composed the show, those who wrote it etc. and of course the names of the performers who also work incredibly hard to put on (on average) eight shows per week. When you consider all that these individuals have given to a production and the amount of work they have put in, the ticket prices do seem fair (because you are paying to see high quality entertainment and a work of art). As well as this, some tickets are actually very reasonably priced in my opinion. I’ve been to several West End shows now where the tickets have been under £30 each, which when you can pay £100+ for some tickets, this is a bargain. I think the most I have ever paid for theatre tickets is around the £80-£100 mark, but it was so I could watch shows that I really wanted to see.

On the other hand, I think it is a shame that students and people who don’t have much money have to miss out on experiencing theatre. If you are a massive musical theatre fan such as myself, it is strange to think that some people have never been to see a West End show, or even any piece of theatre at all. For some people, this will be out of personal choice or they never would have considered it before etc. but I’m sure if tickets were more affordable it would open up the opportunity to so many more people. As well as this, I’ve spoken on my blog before about how a lot of people don’t think theatre is very inclusive because training in theatre is expensive and going to the theatre is expensive etc. I don’t think this is the impression the industry should be giving people, as the theatre and performing is all about expressing yourself and capturing life and all the emotions and experiences that come with it. Everyone should have the right to be apart of the amazing theatre community, and with that in mind it shouldn’t be seen as a place for the ‘rich’. If ticket prices were lowered, maybe theatre would be more accessible to the masses.

There are loads of amazing websites with great ticket discounts, and many theaters (on and off West End) that offer discounts and incredibly reasonable tickets, so there are still ways for people to enjoy going to the theatre even if they can’t afford to go and see a West End hit. Below I’ve listed some websites where you can purchase discounted theatre tickets:

http://www.lastminute.com/theatre/

https://www.londontheatredirect.com/discounts

http://www.lovetheatre.com/

http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/buy-tickets/tkts/

Overall I am still uncertain about the prices of theatre tickets. I do feel that they are worth the money, because the quality of the entertainment, the venue etc. is incredible. However, I would like more to be done to enable young people and those who can’t afford to go to the theatre to be able to experience it, as I think art is an important part of life that should be inclusive to all. Let me know what you think about this debate, are ticket prices just far too high? Or do you agree with Lord Lloyd Webber that they are reasonable?

Thanks for reading!

Lots of Love Lucy x

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

List of Olivier Award winners 2014

Awards for Ghosts at the Almeida Theatre and Trafalgar Studios:
– Best actress, Lesley Manville.
– Best actor in a supporting role, Jack Lowden.
– Best revival.

Awards for Othello at the National Theatre:
– Best actor, Rory Kinnear.

Awards for The Amen Corner at the National Theatre:
– Best actress in a supporting role, Sharon D Clarke.

Awards for Chimerica at the Almeida Theatre and the Harold Pinter Theatre:
– American Airlines best new play.
– Best director, Lyndsey Turner.
– White light award for best lighting design, Tim Lutkin and Finn Ross.
– Best sound design – Carolyn Downing.
– XL video award for best set design, Es Devlin.

Awards for Jeeves & Wooster:
– Best new comedy.

Awards for Handbagged at the Tricycle Theatre:
– Outstanding achievement in an affiliate theatre.

Awards for The Wind in the Willows at the Duchess Theatre:
– Best entertainment and family.

Dance Awards

Best new dance production:
– Eastman – Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Sadler’s Wells for Puz/zle at Sadler’s Wells.

Outstanding Achievement in dance:
– Michael Hulls for his lighting work including Ballet Boyz.

Opera Awards

Best new opera production:
– Les Vêpres Siciliennes at the Royal Opera House.

Outstanding Achievement in opera:
– English Touring Opera for it’s productions at the Linbury Studio Theatre.

Awards for The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre:
– Best actor in a musical, Gavin Creel.
– Best performance in a supporting role in a musical, Stephen Ashfield.
– MasterCard best new musical.
– Best theatre choreographer, Casey Nicholaw.

Awards for Once at the Phoenix Theatre:
– Best actress in a musical, Zrinka Cvitešić.
– Autograph sound award for outstanding achievement in music, Martin Lowe for arrangements and composition, and Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová for music and lyrics.

Awards for Merrily We Roll Along at the Harold Pinter Theatre:
– Best musical revival.
– Best sound design, Gareth Owen.

Awards for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane:
– White light award for best lighting design, Paul Pyant and Jon Driscoll.
– Best costume design, Mark Thompson.

Awards for Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre:
– BBC radio 2 audience award.

Congratulations to all the nominees and the winners, it was a spectacular event!

The Olivier Awards 2014

The 13th of April 2014 (yesterday) was the biggest night in British theatre. The Olivier awards ceremony.

I listen to the awards every year on the radio, but this year for the first time I was lucky enough to be theatre fan number 223, and stand beside the red carpet in Covent Garden leading up to The Royal Opera House! There were lots of stars there and fortunately I managed to get pictures with a few of them.

I cannot thank the Olivier Awards enough for the opportunity to meet some of my idols and actually have conversations with them, it was well worth the 5 hour wait.

I saw all of the theatre royalties walk down the red carpet in beautiful dresses and dashing suits, and being there and soaking up the atmosphere was indescribable.

I was there with my Mum Katie, who had actually surprised me by taking me to the event which I cannot thank her enough for! She is also a theatre lover and she had a great time asking for autographs. She even told Arlene Phillips that I was a dancer, to which Arlene smiled and said that she could tell. Also one of my idols Elaine Paige was of course walking down the red carpet, and my Mum proudly told her that we listen to her radio show on BBC Radio 2 every Sunday, and I possibly told her that I was a huge fan and I love her about 3 or 4 times…

It was a very difficult decision to stand by the red carpet, as there was also a stage in Covent Garden where extracts from current West End shows were being performed. But I’m glad we made the decision we made, even though the performances were incredible.

I took a lot of photographs of the event, so I would like to continue my experience by sharing them with you in part 2 of this tale. Of course I would go into more detail about how it felt to be at such an event, but as I mentioned earlier, it just cannot be put into words and done justice.