All the world’s a stage and you can be in the spotlight

The National - News - Arts & Life - - Front Page - Matt Pom­roy

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.wes­t­end­work­shops­

PND Pho­tog­ra­phy

Lucy Jane Ad­cock and her fel­low mu­si­cal star Ge­orgina Hagen are giv­ing workshops to po­ten­tial stars both old and young.

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