Advert
Advert

Tag Archive | "The Lion King"

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blog: The Wicked Stage – Have I fallen out of love with musicals?

Posted on 04 February 2014 by Sarah Green

I was initially going to write a blog about how I have fallen out of love with musicals, hence my absence in blogging recently. However, I then realised that isn’t true and what I actually mean is due to location and lack of funds I have not seen any musical theatre. However, that probably isn’t true either and it all comes down to definition.

The term ‘musical theatre’ means, for me at least, the musicals going on in theatre buildings; so by that definition, no, I have not seen much to blog about. However, the broader term ‘musical’ opens up all the movie musicals (which I watched a lot of over Christmas) from the classics such as Singing in the Rain to the more recent Frozen. To an extent, this can also include me belting the Wicked soundtrack in my room whenever I’m home alone – personally I think I do a killer rendition of ‘Popular’. You have the same issues with what is the definition of ‘drama’ next to ‘theatre’ and when does a play become a musical? War Horse contains original songs but does that make it a musical or a musical play? This is in turn complicated when book writers such as Oscar Hammerstein called their integrated musicals a musical play. A tangled web of different terms and opinions but, as I say, this is why I love the genre.

To return to why I think movie musicals are important, it is because of accessibility. I live in rural North Devon where my nearest big city is Exeter (an hour away) which has amazing venues, which, like my local theatres, are too small for the massive touring musicals; this is why projects such as National Theatre Live! are so important, but sadly there aren’t that many musicals for it to show. Therefore going to the local cinema and seeing a film musical is amazing. From a performer’s point of view, it is also another area of work and a chance to hone voice skills; most of the key cast of Frozen are Broadway vets: Idina Menzel (Wicked), Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening), Santino Fontana (Cinderella), Josh Gad (Book of Mormon) and, although more known for her TV and film work, Kristen Bell trained in musical theatre.

From a younger perspective, films such as The Lion King and Frozen or even TV shows such as Glee are an introduction to musical theatre; I had never heard Rose’s Turn from Gypsy until a character sang it on the show. Of course, many movie musicals now start as a stage show or become one at some point. Frozen has only been in cinemas a few months and there are already plans for a movie sequel and a stage show.

So to re-think, no I have not fallen out of love with musicals and I’m not sure I ever can really; my issues are all monetary based. But every time I channel my inner Glinda, watch a YouTube video/musical or reblog something on Tumblr then I am indulging in musical theatre, and the mobility and community is yet another reason why I continue to love it.

 

Sarah Green

Sarah Green

Sarah is a musical theatre graduate now studying for her Masters in theatre practice with hopes of going onto a PHD. She has been writing for A Younger Theatre since September 2011 on all things musical theatre related.

More Posts

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Blog: Backstage – a student’s perspective

Posted on 20 January 2014 by Aisha Kellaway

stage door (flickr.com:photos:slimjim:)

There’s no business like show business; it’s hard not to smile as you remember the hush of the house lights dimming, the anticipation as the curtain opens, the thrill of the dazzling lights for an opening scene, hurtling towards a breath-taking finale. This is what most people think of when they think of the theatre, and it’s all that most people see.

I’m lucky enough to have had my eyes opened to a whole new world in the realm of theatre; it’s a place of no standing ovations, of little of the glitz and glamour, but it’s the place where the magic is concocted, of hustle and bustle and where all the secrets of the performance are hidden: backstage.

I’ve always been a bit of a drama queen and when I was 16 finally joined a local drama school. Amongst performing in plays and showcases I was offered the chance take up the position of Resident Stage Manager for all musical productions. For me, it was the beginning of a whole new appreciation of theatre. I had always thought that the spotlight was where the magic was and where I wanted to be, but I soon realised that without the “invisible” people working backstage, there is no magic.

After moving to England from Australia a couple of years ago, I fell in love with the West End. For an early birthday present to myself, I bought my partner and I tickets to The Lion King, a show I hadn’t seen since I was a child back in Sydney. My friend Mike, The Lion King’s Automations Manager, took us us backstage after the show; we were spellbound by the number of props, costumes, set pieces and the complexity of the production’s back-end mechanisms.

A big step on from the world of community theatre I’d known, the organisation behind a major West End musical is highly complex and heavily staffed. There are a number of departments including wigs and make-up, wardrobe, sound, lighting, stage management, puppets, orchestra and automation. Then there’s the cast, a small component in the grand scheme of things, but the part that the audience see. Like pieces of a puzzle, every department has an equally important role to play in the complete picture of the show.

Mike took us to his desk and explained his role: “Basically, I sit here at this computer and press buttons on cue, this sends a signal to move a motor which pushes or pulls an item of scenery, creating a scene change during the show.” He’s been working in automations for 15 years on various West End musicals and, although it can be repetitive, he explained that the environment is a fun one to work in with “unique folk” and “lots of banter”.

It’s not always fun and jokes, though. When dealing with the machinery of these major productions, the men and women working backstage can literally have lives in their hands, and accidents can happen. “When things go wrong we all pull together to keep the show rolling as smoothly as possible.”

Interested in finding out more about some of the other aspects of the backstage process I also spoke to Davinia, a make-up artist who runs her own make-up school in London. Davinia runs a course specifically on stage and theatre make-up so I asked her to explain a bit about the style. “Stage make-up is far more dramatic, as harsh lights and features must be seen from afar, so shading and highlighting is key.”

Opportunities to work backstage in theatre are becoming limited as more actors, actresses and dancers are doing their own makeup. That doesn’t make make-up artists any less important, though. “Make-up artists are used to design the make-up and in some cases teach it to the production team, not only in skills but also in the best products to use.”

Like Mike, what Davinia loves most about working in the theatre industry is the backstage vibe, and the thrill of creating something beautiful to be seen on stage. “You can’t beat the atmosphere and buzz being backstage… creating characters in make up is very rewarding.”

The layers beneath the surface of theatre are endless, and I truly believe that it’s not until you start to delve into these layers, and the lives of the people who make it all possible, that you can see the true magic of show business.

Photo by Flickr user SlimJim under a Creative Commons Licence.

Aisha Kellaway

Aisha Kellaway

Along with being a Drama Queen, Aisha Kellaway is a Media and Communications Student, living between Australia and England. She’s working part time in the events industry and is in the process of starting her own online events business, Stellar Celebration.

More Posts

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blog: The Wicked Stage: “It’s what got him into musical theatre, after all – how bad could it be?!”

Posted on 16 November 2013 by Sarah Green

One of my biggest frustrations as a musical theatre dork is snobbery about which musicals are better. This is an argument that continues in any art form of low brow vs high brow and the favouring of cerebral niche work over mass audience favourites.

2251598944_698dcd8328_z

During my undergraduate studies I rocked up knowing the entire Andrew Lloyd-Webber back catalogue (except By Jeeves) and me and a few other newbies thought the lecturers were talking about a composer called Songtime, which we thought was the most apt name ever! Turns out we misheard the name and they were saying Sondheim, oops! I was told fairly quickly to broaden my knowledge and step away from the Lloyd-Webber. Which is of course good advice as I needed to learn more about the genre, but it was also said in a derisive manner, implying that there was something wrong in knowing and liking Andrew Lloyd-Webber. An opinion I disagree with considerably.

4016372259_04ddde3379_bThe trigger for this blog was an interview with Glee star Darren Criss on BroadwayWorld.com in which he ‘fanboys’ over Sondheim and also discusses the musicals he first fell in love with. Criss discusses how one of his friends loves Cats and notes how many people deride it and its megamusical status. Criss poses the question: “It’s what got him into musical theatre, after all – how bad could it be?!” My answer is it isn’t bad at all because it is introducing people to musical theatre; many who I have met over the years highlight the feline showstopper as their first, too. As a young teenager the first time I saw a musical on stage was either Blood Brothers or Miss Saigon on tour in Birmingham. I often cite Miss Saigon as the show that got me into musical theatre because it was through-sung, had special effects and the most adorable little boy ever. During my MA I looked at McTheatre and the perpetuating of carbon copy shows around the world, and how wrong this seems to some folk. I can understand this, but I saw a carbon copy and in the New Year I graduate from a postgraduate course where I focused on musical theatre, so personally I can’t fault it.

6447076293_a4e088382aCriss also makes a point of bringing up movie musicals and how “for most of us, I am happy to admit, we love a lot of movies that movie professors and stuff probably hate – you know, they might not be the most earth-shattering, ground-breaking things, but, you know what, man? That’s the first musical I saw when I was 5, so I love it.” Whilst a movie musical would conjur up images of Singing in the Rain, Cabaret and Chicago I think there is also room for the Disney films of the nineties. I often wonder if I would have found musical theatre so easy to fall into if I hadn’t watched Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King repeatedly on film and watched characters express themselves through song.

What do you consider your first musical to be? Do you ever get protective if someone knocks your first musical?

 

Photos by Flickr users ell brown, chazzvid and AndyRobertsPhotos under a Creative Commons licence.

Sarah Green

Sarah Green

Sarah is a musical theatre graduate now studying for her Masters in theatre practice with hopes of going onto a PHD. She has been writing for A Younger Theatre since September 2011 on all things musical theatre related.

More Posts

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

Posted on 27 May 2013 by Camilla Gurtler

To Kill A Mockingbird

“Mockingbirds just make music; they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out. That’s why it is a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

To Kill a Mockingbird is probably one of the most beloved books of all time. Since being published in 1960 and winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, it has touched the hearts of children as well as grown-ups. Harper Lee’s classic about racism and injustice, experienced through the eyes of the young Scout, tells the story of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white girl. Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, is defending him in court and causes a stir in the small town as racism rages in 30s America. For Scout and her older brother, Jem, and their friend Dill it seems unfair and shocking that a man can be accused of a crime he didn’t commit due to the colour of his skin, and the children embark on an emotional journey as they follow Atticus’s fight for justice and equality.

Having never actually read it myself (shame on me, I know) I had no expectations entering the rural setting of the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park. It has a magical feel to it, like entering the perfect setting for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and despite the typical cloudy and plain miserable English weather the set and lighting transports us to southern Alabama and Harper Lee’s world. Jon Bausor’s set design is plain brilliant with various versions of the book lying on the stage, occasionally being picked up by cast members and with different sections read out loud. It’s like storytelling when you were young, when your parents read to you at bedtime and you imagined the world of the book and heard the voices of the characters. As To Kill a Mockingbird is such a beloved book this idea honours it very well, and with Phil King’s beautiful voice and songwriting the play has a Shakespearean feel to it. As cast members draw Scout’s world in chalk on the floor images spring to life in our heads, and create a perfect balance between a classic story and the modern world in which it’s performed.

The cast is fantastic and jump in and out of characters, storytelling and stage managing.  I’m usually not very keen on child actors – an image of a cockney Simba still haunts me even four years after watching The Lion King – but Eleanor Worthington-Cox is such a lovable little charmer that it’s impossible not to fall in love with her feisty Scout. She is one of the Laurence Olivier-winning Matildas so no surprise this girl knows how to get her audience. Callum Henderson’s Jem and Sebastian Clifford’s Dill are equally cute and innocent, and hats off to the three of them for managing to keep a southern American accent (which, if you are an actor, you’ll know is pretty hard!). House’s Robert Sean Leonard is a credible, warm and admirable Atticus Finch and his appeal to the jury’s (the audience’s) conscience in convicting Tom Robinson is especially touching.

Director Timothy Sheader really understands how to use his venue, cast and crew to their best abilities and has created a performance of truth, childlike innocence and a sense of play in his outdoor set, never losing the gravity and tragic undertones of the story. If you have read the book as a child then this is a great way of re-experiencing the delightful feistiness of Scout’s mind. If you haven’t, this production will certainly make you buy the book. Just remember to bring a blanket to the performance as the British weather doesn’t do the story and setting credit.   

To Kill a Mockingbird is playing at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park until 15 June. For more information and tickets, see the Open Air Theatre website.

Camilla Gurtler

Camilla Gurtler

Camilla is currently training as a director on the Young Directors’ Programme with StoneCrabs Theatre Company. Camilla has worked as a director, actress and writer in Denmark and London, and loves Shakespeare, greek tragedies and children’s theatre. She’s obsessed with coffee, dislikes ranting on stage and hates the colour yellow. Especially mustard-yellow.

More Posts

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here

Join our E-Newsletter

---
Exclusive offers, opportunities and updates from AYT.

---


Supporting: