Movie Musicals – An Evening of Stars

Post-performance review of performing in DMT’s Movie Musicals Concert.  Photos by Emily Holmes.
The Preparation

After the positive buzz created from DMT’s production of Jekyll and Hyde, it was a pleasure to return for more. The concert’s format was the brainchild of Lucy Upward, who like many others hadn’t performed solos for the group before. She created a list of musicals which started life on the big screen before some of them become popular covers or Broadway hits in their own right. Once she had collected everyone’s ideas, the plan was set into motion, literally.

The most wonderful part of the whole rehearsal process was, to my surprise, the choreography. Jacqui Davison gave many of the big chorus numbers dance moves that not only challenged us but made the songs far more dynamic. Songs from the Greatest Showman and Cabaret come alive once the performers are as energetic as the music. It was so much fun harmonizing and physically moving around at each rehearsal!

 

What’s This from Nightmare Before Christmas. Photo by Emily Holmes

For my own solo, I gave Lucy a list of songs that I would like to sing and let her choose the final song. She choose ‘What’s This?’ from Nightmare Before Christmas. I was initially surprised and a little deflated by the result, but it proved to be the best choice. Not only did it fit into the overall programme better (most importantly), it also pushed me out of my comfort zone. It’s not often you get to portray a cartoon skeleton speaking quickly and excitedly about discovering Christmas Town!

 

The Concert

As we neared the concert, Lucy had us run through the program a number of times so that we were well drilled in performing the songs and knew what to expect from the evening. And yet, call it adrenalin, giving an extra 10% or being on our toes, we all raised our game for the performance itself.

What the event showed was that given an opportunity, every member of the group could step up and deliver a great performance. I was so impressed by all the performers. Some were larger than life, others light-footed, in the moment, animatedly funny or sensational still.

Many congratulations to Lucy for organising us and creating such a fantastic event. It was an evening to sit back and enjoy, and that’s just as a fellow performer. I think the audience really enjoyed it too! And many congratulations to Jacqui, for physically coordinating us so that we were not only in sync but for making each rehearsal a fun challenge.

Auditions Review

If you’ve been on a workshop, one thing they usually recommend is to self-assess your performance and see how you can improve.  Voice Over acting is no different and on the recent Showreel course, they provided a research page with resources to learn from, including TV ads and other artists’ demos.

To date, for my own ‘continuous improvement’ program, I’ve reviewed 357 of my own auditions, 82 television adverts and 33 artists’ demos.  In every review I always fill in a box to answer the question “how can I learn it?”.  I thought I would discover and share the most common responses.  This is for my own interest but also for anyone else who might find these lessons useful.

Audition feedback: 24 times: “Work on flow, through reading out loud and polishing takes” 18 times:  “A bit smoother and this would be a very good take” 17 times:  “Give it life!  Flow and character needed to make this an engaging voiceover” 17 times:  “Closer mic technique with subtle enunciation would life this script off the page” 14 times:  “Gravitas – Flow, melody, but most of all… rhythm and space” 13 times:  “Use appropriate tone, energy and melody for the audience.  Make the words come off the page and not sound read”

TV Ads feedback: 3 times:  “Imagine the audience.  In this example like you’re talking with friends over coffee”

Artist Demos: 4 times:  “Confidence comes from a clear, neutral tone” 4 times:  “Find your signature voice and style and bring scripts to life” 3 times:  “Know your ABCs (Audience, Backstory, Character) and use your voice appropriately and with confidence”.

Afterthoughts: It’s interesting looking through and seeing what thoughts crop up again and again.  With my own auditions, I am picking out specific qualities in the performance, such as flow, smooth tone, character, melody and rhythm (and space). In the TV Ads, the VO Artist often sounds natural and conversational, whilst the Artist Demos have natural and confident voices.  That’s the aspiration, really: provide a natural read; an authentic, fully fleshed-out character that the audience would like to spend time with.  That’s a simplified response I know, but it applies in most cases that aren’t character voices or in-your-face announcers.

Cantata Pansophical

Fan collaboration on an epic level

Vox Machina: An Exandrian Musical  – Album Artwork by Pumpkin Queen and Angela McCain

Last year I was involved in a very ambitious project that combined two of my favourite things; singing and roleplaying.  Critical Role has become an online phenomenon, with a ‘bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors’ playing Dungeons & Dragons.  The cast of the show were known to be big fans of another recent phenomenon, the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical, Hamilton.  Will Crosswait and Danita Gilbert were huge fans of both and conceived the idea of basing the plot and words of the Critical Role roleplay to the music of the Hamilton musical.  Not only that, they had the talent and dedication to go through with it.  They put a call out to the Critical Role online community, known affectionately as ‘critters’, to contribute additional voices, and art to the project.  It turns out that the musical-roleplay crossover is pretty big, because many, many fans contributed this project; 67 singers and 42 artists from across the globe!

After an audition, I was given the role of backing singer (Ensemble).  Because of my recent work as a voice over artist, I was able to get on with the recording.  The task was made much easier by Will, who organised the ensemble into teams and allocated songs to them.  Each group was given the lyrics, backing tracks, and most importantly, a scratch track. I fondly remember making notes whilst stop-starting Hamilton tracks on You Tube and combining their harmonies with Will’s rhymes and timings.  It was a pleasure to sing Hamilton tracks and building up the Cantata Pansophical soundtrack.

That was back in the Summer of 2017.  As naturally happens when real life gets in the way, not everyone is able to commit or make the deadlines.  Because of this, some of us were asked if we would do more takes.  I’m sure I speak for others involved when I say it was a pleasure to be involved in such an inspiration project, so yes, I wanted to do more!  More lyrics  and tracks followed.  When I was given the new alternative versions to ‘The Schuyler Sisters’ and ‘It’s Quiet Uptown’ I was thrilled, as these are such great songs to sing along to.

I wrapped up in November, but there must have been so much more to be done by the Cantata Pansophical that we just don’t see.  Those members of the cast who checked into the chat forums online will have known more.  Many have continued to network and even form roleplay groups together, which is awesome! In the meantime, I had managed to get tickets to the hottest ticket in the West End – Hamilton had arrived in London, and it was fantastic!

On the 23rd February, Cantata Pansophical released their epic musical project to the rest of the world.  Not only that, they made it absolutely free! – 47 tracks, fan art for every track and an accompanying digital booklet!!!  I was staggered by the generosity and sheer ‘fan’tastic gesture by Will Crosswait, Angela McCain, Danita Gilbert and the rest of the Cantata Pansophical.  They only requested donations to worthy charities that some of the cast are supporting.

The reactions so far have been incredible.  Fans from the ‘critters’ community have shared their love for the tracks and artwork. The Critical Role cast has also been astounded by the efforts of their community, and they even responded:

Laura Bailey: You guys are unbelievable!!! This is so epic!!!

Marisha Ray: Matt and I are currently listening to this in our living room just holding each other as we laugh-ugly-cry through the whole thing. Ugh… it’s like reliving 5 years in a musical.

Critical Role cast – photo by Pamela Joy Photography

On that note, time to wrap up this blog post, but I will simply say that it’s great to be involved in something that is bigger than you and that you believe in.  Well done Cantata Pansophical and thank you for involving me in your inspirational project!

Learning from others at Showreel

Last weekend I went to London to try and further my voiceover career.  So far I have been learning by auditioning for jobs as well as reading resources online. Voices.com provides opportunities but you are competing against many other artists and do not get feedback if they go for someone else.  Fiverr is an online marketplace where you talk directly with the client.  So a course where the focus is on improving your own vocal talents has to be a good move.

Showreel is run by JP Orr and Mike Charters in a studio in central London.  They have many, many years of experience and JP was very friendly and open in sharing tips and tricks with me and my fellow, budding voiceover artists.  The group on the beginner’s course I attended had different levels of experience up to this point and all had their own reasons for coming on the course. We each had four scripts to read based on own vocal style and any subject matter expertise we had.  The best part of the experience was listening to others; the individual quality in their voices and how they adapted to JP’s advice for the second take was really inspiring.  In this positive atmosphere was encouraged each other and the time seemed to race towards 5pm and the end of the course.

Here are some of the tips I took away with me from the day.  Sight-reading scripts is such an important skill.  The more practice, the easier it will be for the eyes, brain and mouth to work together and produce good sounds whilst you are pouring over the next line.   But just as importantly, the voiceover artist has to be willing and able to take direction and adapt the way they are delivering their lines.  This was very clear when in the studio ready to provide a second take.  Other top tips to take away include using the body to help the voice be expressive, including using the elbows as a physical trigger to help lift or lower the voice and give it melody.

As for me, I was able to experience performing in a professional studio and take direction whilst speaking over a music track.  I’ve also been given some great feedback including the many ways I can improve, which is what I needed to know.  My vocal range is currently 30-40 years and my voice description is warm, charming, calm and considered tones, with a soft-RP accent.

I shall return to Showreel soon to work on my vocal qualities with JP and Mike, but right now it’s time to apply the feedback and get back to auditioning.  Oh, and lots more practice at reading out loud!

For more info about Showreel, you can visit their website at https://theshowreel.com/

The Wisdom of Nancy Wolfson

Nancy Wolfson.  Image from IMDB

I recently found a YouTube clip of Nancy Wolfson coaching voiceover and thought it was really insightful, so I was delighted to find there were more clips available courtesy of her YouTube channel and

one or two participants of her workshops.

They’ve been inspiring me in terms of my thinking when performing a read.  Here are some of the key points she has made during her “How To” videos along with links to the corresponding YouTube clip.  If you like what you read and hear, check out her website braintracksaudio.com for more words of wisdom.

The Script

Cover up the specs. All the things you need to know and feel lives in the content of what’s going to be coming out of your mouth. Check the specs afterwards to make sure you’re on the right page.  Deconstruct the copy; don’t deconstruct the specs.

Underline the things you want the audience to know.  What do they (the client) need me to bring to the people?

Swap emphasis over to the nouns and verb rather than the pronouns (not emphasizing ‘yours’ and ‘you’ at the expense of content)

Physique

Hit the deck, relax and let the voice fall to the back of you back.  Then create muscle memory for that voice when you stand up to do takes.

Stance – One foot in front of the other, grab the ground, bend the knees

The importance of voice when referencing is to compromise some volume to frame a story

Tonality and Volume

Admissions at a hush – Speak into the microphone as if talking into someone’s ear

Active Hush = using vocal tension to give energy to your read instead of using volume, speed or emotional cheerfulness.

Language Sandtrap – when the language appears to exclaim the words (e.g. “this is HUGE!”), less is more, and less volume can make it more dynamic.

Approach to Style

I don’t need you to make me happy about it – I just need you to explain it to me.

If something’s important in the sentence, turn it from a black note to a whole note (lengthen it)

Pretend that you’ve tried it (the product), ate it, bought it etc, and you enjoyed it.  Have the intention of the admission; admit that it is good, like you’re giving a testimonial.

Engage and Sound Credible

Useful tips from Voices.com

So what type of voice is needed to earn money from voice over?  I decided to look at a source that should know; Voices.com links many, many clients with voice talent through their online platform.  As part of this service, they have provided online resources that can prove useful to beginners and experienced actors alike.  I’ve combined this with some YouTube  examples for good measure.

Video Game Characters: The Video Game Developer’s Guide to Voice Actors suggest a good voice actor needs to speak clearly, take direction, listen with objectivity and create characters simply by reading a script.  They can find themselves voicing multiple roles and has the opportunity to be directly involved in how the story is told.

Here’s an example of famed voice actor Matthew Mercer.

Character / Celebrity Voice Over Impersonators The Animation Voice Overs article says the telecommunications industry is heavily making use of this talent in order to help sell a product or service.  Not only does the talent have to sound how the client wishes, but being easy to direct and being able to perform multiple roles is seen as desirable. For examples, listen and watch this excellent presentation by voice actor James Arnold Taylor.

Documentary Narrators Stephanie of Voices.com makes the point that a documentary without narration is incredibly difficult to digest.  A narrator can provide balance, structure and an anchor for the viewers in terms of perspective and how to interpret what they are seeing.  She describes the narrator as being a steady voice able to spur on new thoughts, convey emotion and be the voice of intelligence and compassion.Here’s an example by Tony Schwartz on how to sell a single sentence to the audience.

For Bill DeWees, giving a good read for narration is sound engaged and to sound credible.  He suggestions for achieving this sound are to speak from the lower part of the diaphragm, sounding relaxed and combine that with a speaking at a slower pace and with a downward inflection at the end of sentences.  This helps to sound knowledgeable and sound credible.

Audiobook Narrators The article ‘10 skills to look for in an audiobook narrator’ argues that it is the narrator who can enable listeners to lose themselves in the story, just as they can be the cause for listeners to become distracted.  Unlike most character voice overs, audiobooks is a marathon that requires both artistic and technical endurance.  Not only does the talent have to be right for the audience demographic, this really seems to be an area where experience is expected.  The article lists what Voices.com clients believe a good narrator should be able to do.  This comes down to engaging with the listener consistently whilst bringing the story to life with appropriate inflection, character voices, timing and correct interpretation of the author’s intent. According to voice actor Kevin Clay, you have to want to tell the story. Celeste Lawson of the Library of Congress says the goal of narration is to translate the written word in a way that is consistent as possible with the intent of the author.  The narrator should skillfully convey the sense of the text to the listener.  Both Kevin and Celeste agree that it takes a lot of practice!  Celeste goes on to say that knowledge of how to effectively generate, modulate and manipulate the voice are as important as the vocal quality itself.  But she emphasizes the single most important requirement is a great ear to discern the subtleties of the mother tongue or reproduce foreign accents and languages.

That’s enough to be going on with.  There are many subtleties involved, especially in engaging with the character and directly with the audience.  What does ring true throughout is the need to practice and to perform with conviction. The results will need to convince the director and the audience after all.

Back to Basics

So, after a year of creating vocals online for songs, characters and presentations, I thought it was time to take a look at the many ways I could do things better.  I had recently paid up to a 1 year premium package with Voices.com, a site that acts as an online job market for clients and voiceover talent.  If I’m to sound attractive to a worldwide market and get noticed in auditions, what do I need to take into consideration?

In this first research assignment, I decided to start with Dee Bradley Baker’s website dedicated to imparting knowledge to others, iwanttobeavoiceactor.com.  Who is Dee Bradley Baker?  Well, you probably know him in one form or another.  He is something of a legend in the voiceover industry!

If I’m going back to basics (not far too go), then I may as well start with his Newbie Mistakes article.

Dee lists the following six mistakes:

  1. Overlapping (taking over someone else’s read) is a no-no. It also means leaving a space in between takes for editors and recording engineers to adjust their equipment.
  2. Not acting.  If you are asked to give multiple takes, switch up your read (more voice acting) each time.  Dee generally recommends three takes as a sort of little menu for the creator to choose from.
  3. Distracting Wardrobe sounds.  I didn’t even think of this, but yes, clanging jewellery is not a good idea!  He also recommends losing the watch, bracelets or bangles.
  4. Not being silent during recording.  Walking around, rummaging through a bag while others are recording is definitely not done.  I’ve noticed at home just how much outside noise is picked up on the microphone!
  5. Running takes with your mobile phone or electronics.  The rule is to silence your mobile (cellphone) completely.  It can also be a distraction for you if not careful.
  6. Ruining a take with page turning during silence.  Dee recommends that if you must page turn during a take, do so silently and in between sentences – the space can then be edited out.  Currently I use my Kindle device, which is great in terms of noise and allows me to have it in front of me when recording.

Dee also had a Runners Up list that mentions not moving on when the director is happy,  ignoring direction, not watching shows from an established series, turning your head during a take, giving the booth too many choices which can confuse and slow down the recording/editing process and only notating your script changes in a multi-character scene.

For me, #2 – the not acting and getting the number of takes right was definitely something to work on.  I’ll try and stick with the rule of threes in future and give a little more expression each time.  I’ll think Dee should get the final word on this blog post however.  Here’s what he wrote in response to a reader:

“My first year in L.A. I didn’t book any voice over gigs. This was after a number of years’ experience in smaller markets. As an actor, you get lots of no’s always. I still do!”

Playing the Baker

A post-production review

Performing the Baker with Teresa Bray as Baker’s Wife and Jemma Brown as the Witch.

The Invitation Theatre Company has completed the show run of Sondheim’s Into the Woods.  So, how did it go?

From an overall perspective I have to congratulate everyone involved on what has been a tremendous undertaking and has provided local audiences the opportunity to experience this fairy-tale extravaganza in the intimate setting of the Wharf Theatre. As it turns out, a Sondheim musical requires a lot of dedication both musically and dramatically and a lot of hard of hard work has gone into this production.  Then there’s the set, costumes, lighting and sound effects needed to make this fantasy realm come to life.

This production was a journey all of its own.  The director modified the script considerably, making cuts in order to reduce the running length of the show.  This worked but did mean that some plot or character elements were missing.  The cast was guilty of poor attendance thanks to holidays and other show commitments.  This meant there were perhaps only a handful of rehearsals when the entire cast was available before show week.  Another unexpected issue was that our young performer playing Jack could not legally perform the show for 6 nights in a row.  Luckily, a drama student who had previously performed the role was able to learn it in super-quick time.  Finally, this is a very challenging production musically.  Not only are the vocal lines repetitive but with subtle changes each time, some sections are rhythmically and melodically unpredictable.  For ensemble numbers such as the Act I Prologue and ‘Your Fault’ you really have to know everyone else’s part as well as your own.

How did the part of the Baker evolve? During the final rehearsals the director praised my energy during one scene. That stuck with me.  Playing an Everyman character doesn’t lend itself to putting on any particular character traits but it made sense to me to convey his emotions by engaging with them.  So if he is nervous, provide that nervous energy.  If he is joyful, express that joy.  So in a sense, he becomes a focussed version of me rather than a character of his own.

The Baker, like all the characters who venture into the woods, goes on a journey.  It was important, especially with script cuts, to really show changes in his mood or character during the scenes.  In short order, he starts off relatively content, but becomes nervous and cautious when he starts his journey into the woods.  When he starts retrieving items to make the witch’s potion he becomes emboldened.  This is an important change as the Baker’s Wife needs to see the changes in him by the time they sing the duet, ‘It Takes Two’.

In Act 2, the second journey into the woods turns far more serious.  Again, expressing the part with sincerity and energy are key.  The main change here is showing his dependence on his wife before then having to achieve things without her guiding hand. To quote the character:  “It was my wife who really helped.  I depended on her for everything”.  I really liked developing this relationship and made sure that during Act 1 and the first part of Act 2 he can be seen looking to her for reassurance or moral support.

It was a pleasure to perform such pieces as No-one is Alone, Your Fault and No More.  They are beautifully written songs and it was a treat working with my fellow performers to bring this to life.  Thanks to choreography we were set in our positions and could concentrate on expressing and vocalising the characters.

Verdict Into the Woods is deceptively difficult and requires a lot of hard work and focus to pull off. The Baker is no different in that sense. He requires attention throughout the show and doesn’t really have a lot of off-stage time.  For this reason I’m happy the run is over.  It has been a wonderful experience, one I’m delighted to have had, but now it’s time to leave the woods.

Playing the Baker

I first came across Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods when my girlfriend at that time (now my wife) was a student at the University of Bristol.  The University’s musical society was putting it on in the student union building.  The whole experience was new to me, from the venue to the musical to the composer.  This made the whole experience all the stranger but all the more appropriate because the show itself takes the audience and characters alike off the path and into the woods.

What I discovered that night was a mix of well-known fairy tales characters and plots combining with songs full of clever lyrics appropriate to those characters. Although all seemed wrapped up by the interval, the show then began to evolve into something quite different and unexpected from the usual storybook ending.  To quote the musical:

Into the woods, it’s always when You think, at last, you’re through and then, Into the woods you go again, To take another journey.

I was very excited when I heard that one of my regular groups, The Invitation Theatre Company (TITCo), was planning on producing Into the Woods and I was thrilled to be chosen to take on the role of the Baker.  It is a wonderful ensemble piece, with layers of meaning and character development that makes is quite unlike my previous projects of Bizet’s Carmen and Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds.

So what is needed in preparing for the role of the Baker?

The Baker and the Baker’s Wife is a fable created by James Lapine for this musical.  They are a typical suburban couple wanting to have a child of their own.  It’s through them that we meet the well-known characters of stories, such as Little Red Ridinghood, Jack (of beanstalk fame), Rapunzel and Cinderella.  Unlike these fairy tale characters, the Baker and his wife are relatable, as are their wishes of starting a family.

Character note number 1 – Do not make the character too eccentric; there are wolves, witches and princes for that!  The Baker is the antithesis of these strange surroundings.

As a lead character, he has issues but is not so very flawed as the likes of Sweeney Todd or to a lesser extent Billy Bigelow from Carousel.  The Baker’s issues are to do with having lost his parents when he was young.  From a broken past he is trying to do the best he can. Unfortunately he has become over-protective when it comes to his wife and very afraid when his immediate world is under threat.

Character note number 2 – The Baker has a lot of pride and control issues.

Perhaps because of his fear of the unknown and things outside of his control, the idea of being a father not only excites but also terrifies him.  This is surely in part due to his fragile family upbringing. There is also a major argument where he and the other characters blame each other for an unfortunate string of events.

Character note number 3 – The Baker does not deal well with new responsibilities.

The potential difficulty with the Baker is that he is in danger of not being very likeable and risks alienating himself from the audience.  Happily he does have redeeming qualities, such as his determination to do what’s right and some very caring moments with his wife and other characters.

Character note number 4 – Don’t forget to make him amiable and to smile now and again.  He is human, after all.

So in summary, the Baker is the Everyman character in a fantasy world.  He has issues, as we all do.  He has too much pride, is overly protective and shirks responsibility. But he also has a good heart and loves his family dearly.  His journeys into the woods change him and those around him and he grows as a person because of them.

Rehearsing the scenes with the TITCo crew has been great fun and I can’t wait to go into the woods in June.

TITCo’s production of Into the Woods is on at Devizes Wharf Theatre from 5-10th June 2017.

http://www.titco.org.uk/

Playing Escamillo

A post-production review:

Photo from the dress reheasal taken by Stewart McPherson.

So it happened. The dust has settled after an incredible week performing in Bristol Opera’s production of Bizet’s Carmen.  So, how did it go?

Since March, the part has continued to evolve and my interpretation alter, partly organically but also thanks to input from fellow performers and friends such as Thomas Woods (playing Don Jose), Herbert DesLauriers (choreographer and dancer) Charlie Monk (Director) and John DesLauriers (friend).  Their advice was truly important, just as the time I had to myself to interpret and adapt the part was crucial.  And so let’s see what happened next…

Character Visualisation:

For me, the one word that represents Escamillo is ‘Focus’.  He has had to believe and demonstrate that he is the best bull fighter to earn his reputation.  He then wonders through the mountains alone and to the bandit camp, all to win Carmen’s heart.  This is one very driven and confident man!!

I still envisioned singled-minded modern footballers such as Ibrahimovic, but also Christiano Ronaldo, who seems to believe first and foremost that winning and personal image mattered most of all.  I would also add to that mix, the character Stacee Jaxx from the musical and movie ‘Rock of Ages’.

In this, the world-weary character has become a stereotype of a rock and roll star unable to escape what his fans expect of him.  His legend precedes him wherever he goes, so much so that he barely needs to react and those around him still respond wildly.  This last visualisation came when working with the rest of the cast and using trying to create the character’s physical attributes suggested by Herbert. For him, less movement in general added to his persona and emphasised any grand gesture he made.

Character Physical Adaptation:

John mentioned that it is easy to over-analyse this character.   In a sense, you cannot overplay him.  He is an all-testosterone alpha-male action hero.  I freely admit I could never reach those heights, and I do not have Escamillo’s confidence or drive to do so.  I used the brilliant reactions of the chorus to build on the character’s ego, but had to find another way to bring him life.  Herbert’s advice was brilliant in this way.  He talked about how to walk, with chest and libido leading the way. Standing tall and keeping gestures to a minimum.  When I continued to have problems adapting however, he saved his best advice to last –   only do one thing at a time.  This means when he walks, he walks.  When he uses a hand to gesture, he is expressing one thing, when he turns his body, he is turning.  This gave the character extra gravitas.

One final help was viewing the excellent photos taken by Stewart Mcpherson.  I looked through and in some photos I could see Escamillo whilst in others I saw a generic principle on Broadway with shining eyes and a wide grin that felt totally inappropriate!  From this I modified my on-stage actions.

Character Vocal Adaptation:

This was the area I was least worried about.  I could sing the part already and as John said, if you concentrate on the character the voice will take care of itself.  What I needed to work on was projection.  I was given some great tips by Thomas.  There are exercises I worked on to improve supporting my voice, but visually this all about focusing on getting a personal message to someone in the backrow of the theatre.

The Good:

I feel like the character evolved before and during the performance week and had a stage presence. Thanks go to my other performers for providing me with the reactions to build from. It gave me the flow I needed to enjoy the role and I came off the stage buzzing every time!   The greatest moment came after the final performance when I was asked to pose for a picture with two members of the children’s chorus. The idea that I have helped inspire them into perhaps performing again gives me great joy!

The ‘Oops’ factor:

Apart from minor moments, faults such as my large size 12G feet continuing to look a little penguin-like I have two confessions make.  Firstly, I do not condone using bathroom cleaning wipes on your face!  I have learned (did there really need to be a lesson?) that this is not healthy and have been treating my face kindly ever since whilst the burn and peeling subsides.

Secondly, on the final night after leaving the smugglers’ camp I tried to exit the stage but could not find the opening to the curtains.  After a moment’s panic I crawled underneath.  I hopefully didn’t break any audience member’s spell!