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Drama and Acting.


Fiz
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As most people are aware, my youngest daughter desperately wants to become a professional actress. She came back from a week's acting course led by two actors early this morning. She wants to do musical theatre. She has been advised not to. Why? One of the leaders of the course has been Eponine in "Les Miserables". She cannot get a straight acting job for love nor money despite being a good actress. The other leader was the lead in the late, unlamented, "Paint Never Dries"...oops, no, "Love Never Dies". He is thinking about giving up acting. Why? There is such snobbery in the drama world about musical theatre that it is the kiss of death to an acting career! She was told to act and try and get a job in a soap. Any two bit actress in "EastEnders" or "Emmerdale" can then be invited to audition for a role in a musical and they will fall over themselves to employ her! I think it is a disgraceful attitude. Most of these people cannot act, or sing, or dance. Why employ them?

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Possibly they are seen as two different genres. Would you daughter be able to make a career in musical theatre alone, or does she want to be an "all rounder"? If so, would she be better off starting in the "straight drama" route and trying to cross over?

 

Over the years in Liverpool, when our Everyman and Playhouse were both full rep theatres with regularly used actors, we saw many of them in all sorts of roles including musicals. They seemed to be expected to turn their hands to anything. That also seems to be the case in companies like Northern Broadsides and (the all male) Propeller.

 

I think your comment about Eastenders and Emmerdale could be seen as a bit harsh. Would the two actors who took your daughter's course think themselves "two bit" if they got a role in one of the soaps? Over the years I have seen on stage any number of soap actors on stage who have been terrific and I have seen actors I have enjoyed on stage joining various soaps.

 

The thing I do not like is the talent shows to find a lead for a new musical (I think you can guess the ones I mean!). Where does that leave the actors who have built on their talent and stagecraft through years of hard graft?

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Equally, I've seen some terrific actors go into soaps such as Michael Starke, John McArdle, Sue Johnson and seen actors I initially knew from soaps such as Kenneth Farrington who was a regular at the Playhouse when I first started going and was/is a wonderful stage actor.

 

Not soap but a tv regular, Martin Shaw is just supreme as a stage actor and he was absolutely awesome as Elvis Presley in Are You Lonesome Tonight.

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I don't have a problem with Soap actors; many of them are very good actors indeed and if the programmes/storylines/scripts are dodgy you can't really blame the actors - it would be like blaming dancers for poor choreography.

 

My young cousin has been fortunate enough to get a part in a soap recently and as you'll know Fiz, it won't have been handed to him on a plate. :-)

 

I quite agree about pop "names"/celebs getting lead roles in big musicals over people that have grafted and trained for years though. Just take a listen to Nick Jonas singing through his nose in the 25th Anniversary concert of Les Mis. We also had the misfortune to see "H" from Steps playing Joseph when dd was little. *shudders*

 

I never realised the difficulty of crossing from Musical Theatre to Drama though. Does your dd have an agent Fiz? What does he/she advise?

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The thing is they are 2 different genres. My daughter is acting and chose to do so rather than Musical theatre. I'm surprised the two actors would say what they said and do wonder whether , finding it hard to get further jobs, they are looking for excuses. I don't mean that to sound harsh but in acting, maybe even more so than dance, unless you are "famous" every job is a new one. Sure your CV may be good but castings are so dependent on so much.

 

In musical theatre they need a broader person. We've all seen performers who were stronger in one area than another.

 

Soap actors can be brilliant. Their use in musicals isn't so wide spread is it? Sure chicago was dreadful for this but others? Also remember many soap actors are musical theatre trained so moving "back" into Musicals isn't so surprising. Hence why many also do well on Strictly.

 

But certainly I think there is a distinction between a drama training, ie RADA, LAMDA, Rose Bruford etc and Musical Theatre, Laines, Performers, Birds etc. When looking to audition I think a casting director for " straight" acting will look at "actors" rather than musical theatre and vice versa.

 

Some agents concentrate more on one than the other so of course their agents may not be helping.

 

Work in Drama is very hard to come by and luck does play a part. Many of those who train are initially quite snooty about soaps. 6 months out of drama college and they are less so:-)

 

Fiz I really think these 2 have given your daughter a very negative view. If she really wants to act she does need to decide which route. Once trained be prepared that work is hard. My daughter has done alot of TIE (theatre in education) which is a godsend. Many who trained with her have given up.Mind you that is true too of many who trained with Martin. But if she wants to act in drama, comedy and not musical theatre then that route would be better whilst keeping up singing and dancing seperately.

 

I think most actors themselves would say the two aren't as interchangeable as many think. I wonder where the 2 who taught your daughter trained?

 

Good luck to her. All I can say is I am rather relieved my youngest is neither an actor nor a dancer and is off to normal uni.A first for us.lol

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Further to what I posted, the actress who told my daughter that has now been offered a 2 week part in a play of the West End. Despite what you say, Julie, she has had several offered for musical theatre and none for stage work until now and Char saw her act. She is good. Likewise, the young man won and Olivier award this year, but he cannot find acting work.They did like my daughter a lot and said she would be perfect for Christine in "Phantom", hiss, spit!

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Spanner, she needs head shots for an agent and somebody I know through Twitter and Facebook is keen to do them for us. He is expecting us to chaperone her, though (he is Asian, which probably accounts for it since they are much stricter with their daughters! I don't mean that in a racist way, just cultural.)

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I saw Phantom when I was a teenager, the year it opened in London. Michael Crawford was utterly heartbreaking in the role and I can remember blubbing all the way home. :-)

 

I've had a soft spot for Phantom ever since, but how good it is does depend on who's playing him - John Owen Jones being my fave after Michael Crawford.

 

The anniversary concert is fab too, as they staged it in spectacular fashion at the RAH. Wish I'd seen it live, but the tickets were outrageously pricey!

 

Anyway, sorry Fiz, I've digressed from your question! :-)

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This is an interesting topic. Recently I met Stephen Houghton who was a guest teacher at a Summer school I co run. Now he trained as a musical theatre dancer and has ended up having acting roles due to the right people spotting him at the right time. He was in Coronation Street for a while and would probably be quite cross to have it suggested to him that that meant he isn't a good actor!

 

His advice to our young students was to keep up the dance training because it takes years of years training from a young age to reach an acceptable level to become a professional dancer. Someone who has done years of drama training will not usually be able to dance whereas a good professional dancer may well be able to act!

 

But the performing arts business is difficult for everyone regardless of genre.

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I was talking about this with my acting daughter yesterday. Her thoughts were. If stage acting is where you want to go you wouldn't train in musical theatre. If television is your only interest then consider which course is best. If musical theatre be careful where you choose. Some colleges are renowned for one aspect. Mountview singing, Conti dance and singing, etc. She says in the business there are definite distinctions between lets say Birds or Laines. Not in which is best but in the strengths of each.

 

For drama training even there there are distinctions. She went to Rose Bruford and did European theatre. So she says she will not be considered for Shakespeare etc off her CV. They will want a "straight" training for that.

 

She really felt it wasn't that there was a stigma against MT just why would someone train that route if acting was their interest. Of course always the advice would be to keep up singing and dancing but that the trainings are seen as very different. She is a good dancer and singer. So she is about to leave on a 6 month tour of Barcelona and is actually doing a lot of singing but was auditioned for her acting CV . Infact she is a little surprised how much singing she is doing.

 

In panto she has sung and done it well but could never do a full musical as her voice has not been trained. Equally she couldn't be employed as a dancer but could very successfully dance within an acting role.

 

Sorry if this isn't clear.

 

Her advice is, if you have a choice, choose wisely. Of course many will not have a choice. Getting on courses at the top schools is very hard. She went at 18 but now believes this isn't necessarily good for acting ( we said that at the time:-)) Age can be an advantage. So if someone wants to go to uni for a "normal" degree thats not a bad thing. Keep up amateur stuff for the CV.

 

Succeeding from a drama degree is harder as agents often look at the more practical places, RADA, LAMDA, Bruford, Bristol Old Vic etc. Not impossible though.

 

Interestingly she said after 5 years out of college people will be less interested in where you trained but what you have done.

 

I think it is true though that dancing must be "kept up" if you feel you want to do that. People" move into acting" but seldom can one pick up dance at a later date to have a career.

 

Of course after all this there will always be those who were in the right place at the right time and succeed through different pathways.

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I wish her so much luck. I think it is heartbreaking how hard they all work, acting, singing and dancing and then have to almost fight for work. Alice has been thinking of an MA. She is very interested in puppetry.

 

Alice did alot of physical theatre on her course where her dancing really helped.

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