A Fortnight of Show Biz

Pre-show ritual: make-up, eyebrow tweeze and a mouthful of honey
I've been trying to write this blog post for a couple of days now, but I've been struggling to find the right words to adequately describe a fortnight with the National Youth Music Theatre. I guess I could describe it as a microcosm for reality, which seems appropriate for a bunch of aspiring actors and  fitting to the lessons learned over an intense couple of weeks. All pretentiousness aside the NYMT experience is a hugely fun and doubly challenging test of character, community and talent. 
       A handful of the gorgeous individuals in the cast.

It's a test of character because you are thrown into a group of talented and determined individuals who all want the same things that you do. There is such potential for insecurity, lack of self-belief and mass of self-doubt. During the early days of rehearsals you start to consolidate both your personality on stage and off-stage. It's always important to remember that you will never perform or interpret something the same way as the person next to you: you are using your emotions, your face, your body to present a concept or a story to the audience. It's one of the reasons why I find it so addictive. It's an opportunity to exercise your own reactions to circumstances that you may never get the chance to experience or to experiment with different responses to situations that you have been through many times. What was so wonderful about this cast was how we were such a pick and mix of characters, looks and sizes. It was so interesting and so beautiful to watch how all the stunning pieces of the theatrical jigsaw came together. 
                        NYMT 15NYMT 13
Look how crazy ballet this is!?
The community element of theatre is another reason why it's so special. NYMT is no exception, not only were we working out from 7am and rehearsing from 9am-9pm together, we were also sharing rooms, kitchens, mealtimes, bathrooms, walks to the theatre and energy drinks. Relationships and formed quickly and intensely and by the end of the fortnight a new family is created with the surname of Musical Theatre. You love them with your whole heart because they encouraged you, because they inspire you with their gift, because they helped you to create something worthwhile and exciting. Cast bonding is always something extraordinary: you may not keep in touch on a regular basis but you share such wonderful memories and strong sense of achievement that keeps you tied together for the rest of your life. Whenever I see someone I worked with on a show, my heart literally bursts with happiness.
Nothing says community quite like human pyramids and copious amounts of energy drinks.

Talent seems the most obvious challenge for the National Youth Music Theatre not because it lacks it, but because it endeavours to nurture it. After one week of intense rehearsals and another week of equally intense performances, you can't help but feel that your talent has been pummelled, then stretched and then put lovingly on display for all to see. It's terrifying, sometimes confidence destroying but ultimately rewarding. 

I leave this sub-chapter of my life feeling incredibly blessed with lessons, memories and gorgeous new friends. Thank you to all who bought singing telegrams and generously donated money to help me get this far and also to the handful of people who encouraged me to audition in the first place. 

Lovely cards and flowers on my dressing-table - made me feel like a broadway star!