We all love Musicals because of their fun-filled plot, catchy music, and the colorful costumes that keep us entertained. But there is something more than just entertainment when it comes to Musical Theatre.
Musical Theatre is a combination of
When it comes to co-curricular activities, we often tend to go for one of these performing arts form. But along with learning a new art form, we end up learning few soft-skills that make us a better individual and more employable! One great example is when a musical has a sad plot, we still learn to be optimistic. Similarly, here are a few skills that facilitates in maximizing our learning potential from these art forms:
1. Team Work & Communication Skills - As a part of a musical, everyone needs to be in sync. In order to produce a great performance, every member of the musical needs to collaborate and trust one another. It is essential to be a great listener in order to communicate effectively with other actors.
2. Confidence & Self-Esteem - be it singing, dancing or acting in a musical, every actor has to come out of their comfort zone. It is true that famous celebrities such as Rihanna, Adele or even Jennifer Lawrence have stage fright or performance anxiety. Being able to perform in front of audiences multiple times help us overcome nervousness and gain that confidence level.
3. Creativity, Criticial Thinking & Problem Solving - We all know that there is creativity involved when it comes to playwrighting, directing and acting. But what we ignore is the fact that actors & performers also enhance their ability to solve problems. For example, making props, lights & sound testing- all of these require to first evaluate problems & them come up with a solution. Additionally, working through unplanned mistakes during performances is another key skill that a musical theatre student majors at.
4. Improve Learning skills - As a part of any character being played, it is utmost important to first research about the character and history linked with it. As a theatre student, we talk to people to understand and analyse their mind, dig-up history from books and newspapers, watch documentaries to build up and learn more about our character to be played on stage or screen. Additionally, musicals & drama lessons allow us to be part of any social, cultural or global events, we learn more about our society & surroundings. As a pert of Perform Australia, 'A Tragedy is Wanted' is a performance piece prepared by students of Advanced Diploma of Performance . It talks about the challenges of gender relations in contemporary society.
5. Lastly, we all learn to be emotionally intelligent. This means, as actors we learn to empathize with one another - as they learn about feeling, understanding & playing different emotions, pay attention to our surroundings, become self-aware in order to make our acting more real and develop social skills. At Perform Australia, every lesson/class starts with running a few drama games to get actors active, focused and aware.
Also Read: The Actor's Iceberg - What's An Actor's Life Really Like?
Stretching is a must for every dancer. Be it jazz, hip-hop, salsa or even ballet, every dance is performed after a rigorous session of warming up the body. When it comes to Ballet, leg stretches are mandatory as the dance comprises of all the footwork. Stretching of the calves, hamstrings, glutes not only improves performance, but also decreases the risk of any injury. Below are a few stretches that every dancer (be it a kid or an adult) must perform.
1. The Hamstring Stretch
Extend your legs and try to touch your toes with your knees locked out. In case, the pain is severe, you could slightly bend your knees. Hold the stretch for almost 20 seconds. This exercise warms up your hamstrings (back of the thigh) and improves flexibility. This could be done wither on the floor or with the barre (as in the video above)
2. The Calf Stretch
Steps including relevés which includes pointing the toes and balancing on demi or full pointe require a lot of calve muscles to work.Therefore, it is important to stretch the back of the lower leg.
Extend your left leg while bending the right leg. Take a strap and wrap it around the ball of your left toe. Gently pull the strap towards you making sure that your foot is turning towards your knee. Feel the stretch for 20 seconds and repeat the same with your right leg.
3. The Glutes Stretch
This stretch works on your glutes and the lower back to improve your posture while dancing.
Lay on your back and bend both your knees and hands on the side. Lift your pelvis towards the ceiling, creating a diagonal with your body. Stay at the stretch for 20 seconds.
This stretch is also named as 'The Bridge pose' or 'Setu Bandhasana'.
Know more: How to get involved in Dancing?
We all know that patience is the best key for every performer. But apart from this, it's the advice that comes from these successful celebrities that thrive young performers to keep moving forward.
"Integrate what you believe in every single area of your life. Take your heart to work and ask the most and best of everybody else, too."
- Meryl Streep
“Just keep moving forward and don't give a shit about what anybody thinks. Do what you have to do, for you.”
“There’s always going to be someone out there… who doesn’t believe in you or who thinks your head is too big or you’re not smart enough. But those are the people you need to ignore, and those are the times you need to just keep doing what you love doing.”
“Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.”
- Christopher Lee
“Acting is something different to everybody. I just know that if you watch an actor or actress getting better and better, I think that’s them just understanding themselves better and better.”
There’s a great little meme for actors circulating Facebook called ‘The Actor’s Iceberg’ shared by the Performer Stuff page. It’s a reminder that acting is not always what it seems. The image shows an iceberg, with the tip of the iceberg surrounded by social media, Oscars and awards, online references, money, cameras flashing and so on… but below sea-level are things like “study and training”, “patience”, “rejection”, “sacrifice”, “building relationships”, and ”determination”.
A number of our students and graduates have responded warmly to this little graphic – simple though it is, it does capture the life of the actor. What the public sees – the end result, the play or film and its publicity machine – is not the half of it. Acting professionally is work – and requires a high degree of self-motivation, personal preparation and stamina to get to that end point.
Several actors have chimed in on social media with things they’d add to the picture, or noted that rejection appeared four times below the surface. Several others emphasised “therapy” and its importance to the actor.
So why would an actor need therapy? Here are a number of ways counselling can offer help to actors:
Did you know Perform Australia offers actors coaching and counselling, with a specific empathy for their particular concerns?
But more than that, sometimes an actor needs some one-on-one attention in other areas. Auditions coaching, to build confidence and prepare for an important opportunity. Accents tuition, for your next role. Or perhaps some private singing training to improve your voice. Perform Australia can offer you assistance. Find out more here.
So there’s a role you’re keen to get, in a musical you love. The audition’s coming up and you’ve registered. You don’t want to botch it - so how can you put your best foot forward?
Song choice is crucial to success at the audition. Here are a few tips to help you make the right choice at your next audition.
1. Have more than one song ready
When preparing for an audition, you should have about five songs that you can pull out of your hat at any time. These songs should be ones you know you can nail. They should be well rehearsed and memorised - lyrics and melody. If the audition panel wants to hear more from you after the first song, then you'll
have something on hand. Most professional auditions require you to have two songs prepared, in any case. But be prepared to whip out something else at a moment’s notice.
2. Prepare contrasting songs
It’s always good to front up to a musical theatre audition with one song that’s pre-1960, and one that’s contemporary. That’s your first contrast. Two contrasting musical theatre traditions.
The second contrast is character. Your songs should display two different characters. One might be Annie Ado with “I Cain’t Say No" from Oklahoma, and the other may be a reprise from Little Red Riding Hood from Into the Woods, for instance. Your songs should show the types of roles you’re capable of playing. So in your suite of songs, find characters that show a variety of virtues and vices.
3. Choose songs that are age appropriate
If you are twenty, don’t choose to sing an audition song where the character is sixty (like Norma Desmond, from Sunset Boulevard, for instance). Choose audition songs where you would be likely to be cast in the role. Your performance should “make sense” to the audition panel. You don’t want to raise questions, like “Why is he/she singing that?” You need to be believable from the word go.
4. Choose songs that are gender appropriate
You may love a woman’s song from your favourite musical, and sing it well, but if you’re a fella, choose a man’s song for your audition. And vice versa if you’re a woman. Admittedly we live in an age where gender fluidity is up for discussion - but if you are auditioning for a male role in a show, you need to show the panel that you can sing and play a male role. They want to see what you can do, for their show ( - not what you would do for your own personal cabaret performance). If you are going for a male role, sing a male part. If you are going for a female role, sing a female part. By all means, if you are auditioning for a cross-dressing role, a specifically gay or a transgender character, you can choose audition repertoire that reflects this.
5. Choose songs you know you can achieve every time
Sometimes singers have songs they’re working on but haven’t quite mastered. There’s that high note, or that low note, or that difficult melody, that you can’t do consistently well. Only audition with songs you can do well.
6. Learn how to cut your music
You won't always sing an entire song in an audition. Usually, you’ve got to be prepared to cut your music. Depending on the audition requirements (and make sure you familiarise yourself with these), you may only be required to sing a couple of verses and a chorus. So when you sit down to look at your song, make sure you choose the section that will show you off. It may be where there’s a crescendo. It may be where the character is most emotional. It may be the verse that is most similar in sentiment to the character role you’re auditioning for. Select your section, and work out in advance how you are going to explain the section you want sing to the accompanist on the day. Make it clear by crossing out unwanted sections on the sheet music you will provide to the accompanist.
7. Prepare your character
Character is so crucial to selling a song in an audition. It’s not enough to sing sweetly and on pitch. You need to understand where your character is coming from and what they are trying to communicate at the moment they sing their song. So make sure you know what your character is singing about, and tell that story through your expression. Ask, “What does my character want here? What is his/her goal? What do they feel?” and “How can I bring these things to life in my face, my hands, my posture, my physicality?” Answer those questions and you'll be telling your character's story.
These parameters are the important to bear in mind for professional musical theatre auditions, as well as auditions for musical theatre training courses, like Perform Australia's CUA40513 Certificate IV in Musical Theatre.
Writers from Perform Australia contribute to these posts