Friday, 27 March 2015

IF you've been following me on Twitter or Instagram you have probably seen a couple of my posts using the tag '#dlsweekinthelife' numerous times over the past few months. The hashtag is part of the efforts towards the promotional campaign for 'A Week In The Life' - a weeklong course I'm about to experience in a few days. This event is organised by DLS Productions, a musical theatre company I'm a part of. This event is in its second edition and will take around 40 students and myself to Margaret Howard Theatre College in London for a week of musical theatre training. I shall be introducing this wonderful campaign including an insight to the star studded tutor lists, preparatory work and an idea in general of what we'll be doing. If you're a Musical Theatre fanatic especially, I urge you to read on.

*N.B. The works mentioned alongside the relevant tutor are just a few under their name. Please click on their name to find out more information about them and their careers.

The event is organised by the committee of DLS Productions and former member Ben Darmanin, who takes care of the work from the London end. He's had a successful study and work career in musical theatre on and off stage (including singing backup for Elton John, Royal Albert Hall; worked with the casts of Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, played Boq in the German production of Wicked, Metronom Theatre). Moreover, he's managed to round up some of the best tutors in the industry to come and teach us for the week.

The course runs on 4 days with the school day starting bright and early at 9am and finishing at 6.30pm. We'll be taught all 3 disciplines of the performing arts and on the last day we'll get the chance to perform what we've learnt during a showcase in front of the founder of college Margaret Howard herself, the tutors and some guests.

Preparation has been going on for months now and a few weekends ago vocal tutor and Head of College at MHTC, Kevin Fountain (worked with Idina Menzel, Kerry Ellis; trains the new 'Billys' for Billy Elliot), flew over to Malta for two preparatory workshops. We worked on two musical numbers as a choir; songs that we will continue to perfect in London as well as learning accompanying choreography to be later performed at the end of the course. The choreography will be introduced during Jazz lessons, this year taught by the talented Ashley Nottingham (performance credits include We Will Rock You, Dominion Theatre and A Chorus Line, London Palladium; ITV Olivier Awards).

Apart from Musical Theatre jazz we will be having Tap lessons with Lizzi Gee (Cinderella, Wimbledon Theatre; Oliver, The Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz, Cyprus), this year's Tap tutor. Furthermore, we'll get to learn and showcase our newly choreographed Hip-Hop routine, another style many are not accustomed to. This year our tutor is Holly Penny (performed with the likes of Rita Ora, Dizzie Rascal and Pharell Williams; member of Blue Boy Entertainment).

Personally, I've never been to an acting or dance class in my life, so I find the following styles of dance and acting more challenging that the previously mentioned. Contemporary dancing is something extremely novel to me. This year we'll be joined once again by the wonderful Morgan Cloud (studied MA, London and at London Contemporary Dance school; teaches Royal Academy of Dance HQ, London as well as at Performers College, Essex and at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts). The same goes for Ballet, a style of dance I've never even considered to attempt. Vivienne Saxton (MA in Ballet Studies, University of Surrey; involved in the development of teaching qualifications at ISTD) is joining us again this year.
Acting is another important discipline that I find just a little more challenging that others. This year we are joined by James Wolstenholme (trained at The Royal Academy of Music and Birmingham School of Acting; performance credits include Star Spangled Girl, Little Me (RAM); Stephen Sondheim Concert, RAM for Mr Sondheim; teaches at Guildford School of Acting, City Academy and Urdang Academy.

At 'A Week In The Life' we're given the chance to express emotion and raw musical theatre experience the special 3 hour classes of Acting Through Singing. The class runs on 3 days and each time we got to work with a different tutor. This year's tutors are Sam Kenyon (Sweeny Todd, Watermill/West End; Sunset Boulevard, Comedy Theatre West End; responsible for the music from The Borrowers), Mary King (coached shows including Carmen Jones, Lost in the Stars, Mass, The Wizard of Oz) and Mary Hammond (worked with Coldplay, Dido and Katherine Jenkins; worked on Billy Elliot, Phantom of the Opera and Joseph). Here we'll be performing a song of our choice accompanied by pianist Noam Galperin (musical director of The Mikado, Charing Cross Theatre; Jacques Brel is Alive, Well And Living In Paris, Charing Cross Theatre).

Safe to say that this experience is not just about the 3 disciplines, but also about the things that help us become better - such as accents! Once again the class will be taught by Anne-Marie Speed (BGT, The X Factor; established The Voice Explained; vocal consultant for agents, Sony Records and SyCo, Universal). One of my favourite classes is the Career Talk hour where we are free to ask questions and listen to Gido Schimanski (published online course Successful Auditions Programme for Creative High Achievers, part of ATLEurope) talk us through career options, advice and help us onto a clearer pathway.

Clearly we've got a hectic week ahead of us. I hope this has served informative enough and persuaded you to follow DLS Productions and the A Week In The Life program on Facebook and Twitter to keep whatever we'll be doing in London. Of course I myself will be posting updates on Twitter and Instagram. Lastly, I encourage you visit the official workshop website for more information on tutors and official pictures!

Maria x

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