It’s certainly been a week for famous people letting the world know how useful The Stage has been at launching their careers.
I remember leaving [drama college] with no qualification… It was a Wednesday, and the following day on the Thursday I got The Stage newspaper and saw this audition — for a cruise ferry actually, my first job — and I thought, ‘why not go for that, and see what happens?’ I was the last guy to be seen, and I got the job.
The interview is available via the BBC’s Listen Again service until next Wednesday morning.
Lee’s fans (now, it seems, universally known as Loppies, a term that originated in the TV Today comments section of our Any Dream Will Do final coverage) have now racked up well over 1,000 comments on a single blog entry, meaning I’ve had to close comments on that one to protect the
sanity of our moderators load on the web server. They may be interested to read theatre producer Richard Jordan’s comments on how the TV talent show genre has shaken up the theatre industry:
I believe it’s much harder for the winners of these theatre contests than those of the X Factor, who after the timed release of a single to hit No. 1 can take time out to start working with songwriters and develop their skills further. In the case of a theatre reality TV show, the winner remains under a constant pressure, which many experienced performers would struggle to cope with, going straight into rehearsals as the star with the responsibility of leading a company. Finally, they must face the show’s biggest and most influential judges — the national press critics, whose notices ultimately determine whether they, the TV show, and the production have succeeeded or failed.
The full column is not available online, so you’ll have to buy the paper to read it: The Stage is available from most major newsagents, priced £1.30.
Also in print this week Mary Comerford meets Ben Shephard, the former Xtra Factor presenter who, this weekend, moves to BBC1 prime time to present DanceX. Like Lee, he’s professionally trained — in dance, rather than drama. Unlike Lee, though, he didn’t get the first job he went for, but his ongoing success still sprung out of that audition:
When I was starting out, I’d done a presenter’s course and there was an ad in the back for a new kids’ show. I sent my showreel off and they asked me to audition and it was for GMTV’s children’s show Diggit. I did a screen test with Fearne Cotton but I didn’t get the job. However, I met Andi Peters, who went to C4 and and employed me on T4, and he’s been one of my mentors ever since.
There’s no yellow brick road that’s going to lead you straight to Oz, but there are a few things you can do and one of them is look in the back of The Stage.
It worked for me because although I didn’t get it, I met the right people. The number of bands who come on GMTV and say, “We met at an audition in the back of The Stage.”
So if you’re interested in a career in the performing arts, both Lee and Ben’s experience points to two things:
Get the training. Although Lee left his drama college just before graduation, his training would be invaluable.
Apply for jobs and auditions you find in The Stage. The paper is published every week (your newsagent should be able to reserve a copy for you, or you can subscribe to get a copy delivered to you). If you want to search jobs online, our jobs & auditions section is updated every Wednesday. Subscribers to the print edition get immediate access, with non-subscribers able to view jobs from Saturday mornings.
And of course, there’s lots of great TV-related stuff in The Stage as well as theatre coverage. This week, as well as Ben Shephard’s interview, Matthew Hemley meets TV stuntman Riky Ash, and Harry Venning reviews Concert for Diana, The Thick of It: Spinners and Losers and Memoirs of a Cigarette.