All the world’s a stage and you can be in the spotlight
Musical theatre is undergoing a renaissance. From Hamilton on Broadway – the hottest ticket anywhere in the world – to the West End of London being more alive than ever before, it seems singing and dancing on stage is the happy place of choice for millions.
Dubai has joined the party with the opening last year of the city’s Opera House, which provided a serious venue for musicals. Now, public participation is set to become the next step. Lucy Jane Adcock has performed in a wide range of shows, including Chicago and Mamma Mia. She also appeared in Matilda, and will give a masterclass in that show in Dubai on Friday. Fellow performer Georgina Hagen will visit the following day to give a class in the Queen musical, We Will Rock You.
For three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon, participants will feel like they are on the West End stage while being put through their paces by a professional.
“It will involve a lot of info about the show, teaching one of the routines and explaining about the process of getting into a West End show,” says Adcock.
Similar workshops have proven hugely popular in the United Kingdom, reflecting the resurgence of musical theatre. The ages of those taking part spans young children to people in their 60s.
During workshops, it is not unusual to see real talent, especially with Matilda, a musical based on the story by Roald Dahl, which attracts younger performers.
“I’ve seen some young people who are great, to the point where I’ve said, ‘This child should audition for the show’,” Adcock says “Even though I only get to see them for a couple of hours, sometimes you notice straight away and think, yes, that person’s got it. More often than not the parent has seen this too and is asking what they should do next to try to help their child.”
But the event is designed to be fun for all, regardless of natural ability.
“For this sort of thing, as long as everybody is having a really good time and enjoying it then that’s the aim,” says Adcock. “If I was doing a longer course over a few weeks and looking for people to really improve then I’d probably push harder – but this is just about people enjoying themselves”
So how about some expert tips for wannabe West End stars? “Everyone can make a sound, it’s just a case of the right technique,” says Adcock. “Even when I was training there would be notes that I couldn’t quite reach and my coach would say to me, ‘Right hold it there, come down then try again,’ and I’d get the note. It’s quite technical, but from when you’re born, potentially, everyone can dance, everyone can sing, everyone can act, it’s just a case of training and developing it.”
As for dancing, the routines in Matilda are choreographed by Peter Darling for actors, so you need not have specialist dance training.
Adock says the interest in such workshops can be partly attributed to televised talent shows based on musicals.
British TV series such as the Sound of Music- themed How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and Over the Rainbow, a BBC programme designed to find the next Dorothy for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of The Wizard of Oz have been big hits and launched West End careers.
“They really have raised the profile of musicals, but I wish we didn’t have to do it to be honest,” says Adcock.
“I understand that it gets bums on seats and that’s what we need, but I miss the day when people trained and trained and came out of college and that was enough to get a lead part.”
It seems that the all-pervasive celebrity culture has affected musicals as well. “If they cast a lot of unknown people who were very talented it would be hard to get people to come and see that,” she says. “So what they do is have a brand new musical, a cast of unknowns and then one [big] name to get the first lot of people to go and see it, because I’m not sure how long things would last these days without known names.”
In a way, these masterclasses suggest the old days of open auditions and casting but, realistically, this is unlikely to be a stepping stone to Broadway or the West End – instead, they are intended to be enjoyed as a fun day during which you can experience a taste of life on the stage.
“Just get stuck in, give it your all and have fun,” says Adcock.
The workshop is on Friday and on Saturday. Dh600 each or Dh1,000 for both workshops. Price includes tuition, a T-shirt, certificate and photograph. www.westendworkshopsdxb.com
Lucy Jane Adcock and her fellow musical star Georgina Hagen are giving workshops to potential stars both old and young.