What’s the Best Way to Get Into a Musical Theatre Career?

I regularly receive questions like this on Twitter and Facebook… Here I answer a question about breaking into Musical Theatre

It really does depend on training for the triple threat. It is not enough to be a good dancer, singer or actor to break into musical theatre.

You need to be excellent in all three and have a solidly refined and defined discipline to make you a desirable and reputable performer.

If you are already in training then you are well on your way (and remember, you will continue training for the remainder of your career (and life, if you are fortunate to maintain the career)).

Find a school that will advance your training, and then a higher level programme that offers an industry showcase. You want quality training in singing (both solo and choral technique – and especially acting through song), actor training (characterisation techniques, emotional connection, voice training, core stage craft and more) and dance and movement (the staples here bein Jazz, tap and modern). There are so many schools now, and all offer different courses at a range of prices and levels of training. Do some research – check out Google and Bing and always ensure you get to see the facilities.

Remember, training can be expensive, but if this is TRULY what you want to do you should see the cost involved as a major investment. If you are going to compete with those who have trained and really honed their skills, you will be need to be just as good as a bare minimum!

Representation (agents) is vastly important as your career progresses, but should not be your immediate concern. Focus instead on making sure your toolkit is ram-packed full of stage worthy skills.

Once you are upskilled enough, attend open casting calls for chorus and swing. These are regularly published on Spotlight and in The Stage newspaper. Don’t go if you are not excellent. It is a waste of time for you and the director(s) if you are not on top pique. Besides, you don’t want to start building your career on a reputation of not being up to professional standard.

The biggest key here is: know you are starting on the bottom rung. There is no harm or shame in that.

You should not be going up for lead roles as soon as you launch your career. That is the wrong kind of hunger and does not demonstrate the type of humility expected by directors of their performers. A director doesn’t see a star. They don’t care if you want to be famous. They do care that you “get the job done” as effective and as efficiently as possible while presenting great art and fulfilling their vision. Directors certainly don’t see glory in the performers they have allotted as their leads. They see superb and quality performers who have worked hard to get where they are and can now be trusted to take responsibility for the show. So go in knowing you will be chorus, and work your way up.

But the training is essential. For every one of you auditioning there are at least five other people who look like you, sound like you, act like you and can move like you. So to stand out, you have to be the one who is you, but THE MOST EXCELLENT version of you and your skills.

And lastly, take your time. This isn’t a race. You really need to understand and work out who you are in yourself so you can better work out the types of roles you are matched with, and the necessary approaches to marketing yourself. You need to also develop your stamina and grow in reliability as a performer. This takes time. 8 shows a week at full pelt sounds easy on the surface, but it’s damned hard work!

I hope this doesn’t tread on dreams – and I hope you are working ever stronger to be the best you can be =]

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Tuirenn Hurstfield
About the author

Tuirenn has over twenty years' experience as a professional and freelance theatre director, producer, playwright and acting coach based in the North West of England and working nationally and internationally. He is an avid lover of nature, books & real music • a proud Ravenclaw • dog dad to Frodo • and is following the Druidic path • 🏳️‍🌈

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