Saturday, 6 June 2015

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to London for a week with 40 students from DLS Productions for a new musical theatre adventure. The programme, entitled "A Week In The Life", took us to Margaret Howard Theatre College in Bushey where we lived the life of theatre college students for a week, attending classes from all three disciplines. I look forward to trips where I'm travelling with a big group of like-minded friends, all eager to learn more about the theatre, thirsty for a taste of what it would be like to attend a Musical Theatre College. I've previously introduced this workshop in another post. This time around I'll be writing specifically about this year's experience.

Before leaving for the adventure.
Every morning started with an intense warm-up that got us all prepped for the day. During the week we worked on two musical numbers, which we performed on our last day as part of a Showcase. Ashley Nottingham took care of the choreographies for "OH! The Thinks You Can Think" (Seussical) and "You've Got A Friend" (Beautiful - The Carole King Musical), whilst Kevin Fountain (also Head of College & Performance at MHTC) walked us through the singing of the two numbers.

James Wolstenholme, our Acting coach for the week, gave us some improvisation techniques and exercises, which we worked on in smaller groups. For someone who's never done any acting - it was challenging yet fun. Contemporary class was super energetic and lead by Morgan Cloud, who got us all hyped up working on various techniques.

Green Group with Hip Hop coach Holly Penny!
I've never attended a dance class in my life, therefore having sessions of Ballet (Vivienne Saxton), Hip-Hop (Holly Penny) and Tap (Leon Cooke) had me working out of my comfort zone with learning on techniques and pieces of choreography. They were novel experiences that have definitely helped with being confident in trying new things.

Gido Schimanksi prepared a wonderful class for us about reaching our full potential. This hour and the career talk (lead by organiser Ben Darmanin and two MHTC students and friends) served as eye-opening and extremely informative. Experiences were shared and several of them were relatable. Furthermore, I felt like I wasn't alone in trying to achieve my dreams and boosted my confidence!

Kevin Fountain helped us with an hour of one-to-one singing lessons. Learning more about technique is one of my favourite parts of singing. Working on the songs with Mr Fountain aided us to be prepared to perform during Acting Through Singing (3 lessons lead by Ben Darmanin, Mary Hammond and Mary King respectively, and accompanied by Noam Galperin). Being sat in a circle watching your colleagues perform and get instant feedback proved to be extremely helpful as you understand further certain flaws and why improvements need to be employed. My tutor for this lesson was Mary Hammond and performing my song the second time amending my performance to her constructive critique helped me perform the song better and more confidently by showing more emotion.

We also got to eat A LOT of food. Perfect trip!
Annemarie Speed made a return this year as our Accent tutor. With her we worked on Receive Pronunciation, which proved to be extremely insightful as accent training is useful for the Musical Theatre and Acting career.

3 of the wonderful musicals we got to watch.
No Musical Theatre experience would be complete without a visit to the theatre. In fact, on our free day around Central London after a lovely walkabout, we attended two musicals. I got to watch the brilliant Memphis and the classic Miss Saigon; two musicals that proved to be inspiring for everyone and looking forward to performing during our showcase!

One week might not have been enough for most of us, despite how exhausted we were by the end of it. We only got a pint-sized taste of what a Musical Theatre life would be like. It's incredible how inspired one can get in a short time. In my case, I've confirmed my calling and got me counting down the days until I join my friends in London!

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank DLS Productions for organising all this, especially to Ben Darmanin who did loads of work from the UK end; and a massive thanks to Kevin Fountain, Head of Margaret Howard Theatre College. Last but not least Margaret Howard herself for letting us use her marvellous school and giving a few lucky students scholarships at the college. It's people like these who believe in creativity, art and the future generation's potential that help us make our dreams one step closer.

For more information about the programme, visit the official website, and keep and eye out if you're interested in applying for next year!

Maria x

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