When you’re a theatre person like I am, writes Oliver Tompsett, you can never fall out of love with the business. We continue to have a passionate and fruitful relationship with all things theatre for our entire lives. As in any healthy successful relationship, there will be changes we must adapt to. Anyone who still thinks we need the Spotlight ‘book’ should not only learn to open a web browser, but should also open their eyes to the future.
I am changing my approach to how I can increase my chances of employment in musical theatre. I’m not the only one who is taking such measures, and I want to explain why.
Theatre — and musical theatre in particular — is obviously dominated by the need to sell tickets. For producers, that means raising the profile of their show, ensuring that word of mouth is good, and making people come and see their show over the rest. One of the most popular tactics is to use “names” or “celebrities” in the principal roles of their show. With recognisable faces pasted all over their advertising, the public is promised not only an evening’s entertainment but a glance at someone off the telly. This isn’t a new tactic at all, but has been on the increase for some years now.
So, how do actors, like myself — or even the undiscovered talent from around the country, that already have only a few ways in — even get half a chance, when nearly every lead role that’s going is almost certainly heading toward the next winner of Dancing on Ice? (A show which, by the way, I would love to be on!)
The answer is to continue to be the best you can and take every opportunity to not only improve your craft but also make people sit up and watch what you can do. The paths you take to raise your profile can be anything between making yourself available for the local cabaret and showcasing your talents to a small audience, to the other extreme of auditioning for a nationwide talent search that might showcase your ability to millions — as I tried to do with ITV’s Superstar.