Sunday, December 30, 2012

Things that happened in 2012

I saw a post like this in someone's blog and I thought it was quite a nice idea: recap on all the major things that have happened in 2012.

  • January: I started taking classes in tap and musical theatre as well as continuing with private singing lessons.
  • February: I started working as an optical consultant again after having dropped out of my Law course at university at the end of last year and having spent Christmas in Finland with my relatives.
  • I started seeing a lot of shows, musicals in particular, as I now had the funds to do that. By doing this, and also by going to musical theatre cabarets, I got meet a lot of the fellow musical theatre fans I had spoken to on Twitter.
  • April: I performed in a cabaret, Insane about Broadway, at Charing Cross Theatre after taking a musical theatre Sunday programme. 
  • I started taking jazz and ballet classes in addition to tap.
  • June: I had a problem with my gums so I went to the dentist's for the first time in about four years.
  • I successfully auditioned for a 1-year musical theatre foundation course.
  • July: The Olympics taking over London - Londoners were mostly dreading it but everything went smoother than expected. I went to see women's handball in the Olympic Park.
  • September: I visited Finland for the first time since the beginning of the year.
  • I started my musical theatre foundation course and became a part-timer at work.
  • October: I was allocated the role of Little Bo-Peep in an amateur pantomime in January and rehearsals for the show started.
  • December: I passed my CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) and bought myself a motorbike which I started using for commuting to college and work.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"I am Little Bo-Peep!" "Oh no, you're not!" "Oh yes, I am!"

My friend Ford mentioned in passing that he was going to audition some people for a panto which he would be assistant directing.
"Oooh! Can I come and see the show when it's done?" I asked.
First verse of the nursery rhyme.
"You can come and be in it," he replied. 
And so I ended up going to the auditions and was cast in the title role of Little Bo-Peep (although the story revolves around her, she is not actually the one who appears in the show the most).

A short synopsis: Fanny owns a farm which she runs with her son, Freddie. Little Bo-Peep is Freddie's girlfriend and she looks after the sheep on the farm. The problems start when a Lady Sneering appears and has such a crush on Freddie that she asks Mefisto, the magician of a touring show, to make Bo-Peep disappear so she can have Freddie for herself. 

For the Finns and other people outside of the UK reading this, I may need to just explain the concept of an English pantomime. It is not a show where the actors don't speak but a musical comedy usually performed around Christmas time. It is often based on a well-known fairy tale (our one, Little Bo-Peep, is based on the nursery rhyme where she loses her sheep). Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan for instance are very standard ones. Pantos are targeted at the whole family with singing and dancing slotted into the play and  they would not work without the participation of the audience. Gender lines are often crossed with men playing women's parts and vice versa and the characters, although obviously named according to the story, tend to be very much the same and exaggerated. You have a dame, a yokel, a comedy duo etc.. The jokes are usually bad and there are witticisms flooded with sexual innuendos which children are oblivious to but which are amusing for the grown-ups. 

Bo-Peep in Toy Story. (Source)
Confession: I have never seen a pantomime let alone been in one. I will go and see one before we perform ours though so I actually have a proper idea of what we are aiming for. I am also lucky to have Ford, who knows what he's doing, there playing Freddie. 
The atmosphere within the group doing the panto, Manor Players, is absolutely lovely and I am always looking forward to going to rehearsals. They currently take place four times a week so I have virtually no free time. If I am not at school or work, I am in a rehearsal. I like being busy though when it comes to things I genuinely enjoy doing though. Really looking forward to performing this.  

Poster for the panto below. Do come and see it if you have the opportunity :) It will be lots of fun! 

Manor Players website:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Overdue update

Apologies for being so quiet on here: I always seem to be on the go at the moment :/

Firstly, my course is going well. To begin with it was tough with a minimum of 14 hours of dance/body conditioning every week but I have gotten into the routine now and I certainly should have a beach body by the end of the year. In terms of dance classes, we have ballet, jazz, commercial and tap. Some of the jazz classes are technical and some are musical theatre based in which we learn routines from shows.
On top of dance, we have various classes in acting and singing. So far we have covered a bit of Stanislavsky, Shakespeare, acting through song (a BIG component) and acting for TV among others.

Aside from me there are only 4 people on the course which means that no hiding can take place: you will get caught if you haven't done your work. However, it is above all a positive thing because of the vast amount of time the teachers have to spend with each of us giving individual feedback. 

I would be lying if I said I have not improved in all the different areas. However, I have noticed particular improvement in terms of core body strength, flexibility and stamina. I have never been much of a dancer and only started dancing upon the realisation that if musical theatre was what I want to do, I will have to learn to dance decently. The course has made me rather enjoy dance and because my fitness level is higher, my body doesn't wear out as quickly and I am able to enjoy the exercise more. In addition, my technique and ability to remember routines have improved which makes everything more fun. 
My confidence has gone up a lot as well. It is not a big deal for me to get up and sing in front of the class anymore. I used to have a problem with my voice locking up as soon as I had an audience but as I have learned to accept that I can sing and produce a fairly good sound, it has made me relax significantly.

So far we have covered a lot of West Side Story: acted out some scenes, practiced a Puerto Rican accent, sung Somewhere, worked on the dance routine to Cool and at the moment we are putting together a whole musical theatre number to America. We have also danced to Grease and In the Heights among others.

On a Friday morning we do work on individual production numbers. Each of us gets to choose a song from a musical which is then choreographed so that everyone can be in it. You get to sing and act your own song and everyone else become the ensemble. I am doing So Much Better from Legally Blonde for that. Gives me a reason to learn to sing and dance in heels as well. I bought a gorgeous pair of tan-coloured character shoes with 2 3/4" (~7cm) heel which are also incredibly comfortable and I love wearing them. I must post a picture on here soon. Or maybe I should do a video blog...(?)

Over the Christmas holidays I promise to catch up on reviews of shows and such on here so stay tuned!