Alumni have found their 'Golden Ticket'
London Studio Centre alumni have started in the new cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in London's Drury Lane Theatre. Alexander Bartles, Katrina Dix (assistant dance captain) and Rebecca Hodge (swing) join existing alumni Georgia Carling in the ensemble of the Roald Dahl classic tale; as it enters its final year in the West End.
We caught up with two of the new cast members before opening night to see how they were getting on:
Q: How does it feel to be getting closer to opening night? Are you getting excited?
Katrina: It's very exciting, but of course there's some nerves in the mix too. We've been very fortunate to have quite a long rehearsal process to prepare us, however I still can't believe how fast it has flown.
Alexander: Very excited to be getting closer to the big day! I think everyone at this point knows the show inside out; it’s just a matter of running the pieces and practicing with wigs and costumes. Because the costumes are so elaborate and heavy, it does change the choreography somewhat; so we are just adapting and making our bodies ready for the opening night.
Q: How have you found the rehearsal process? What skills had LSC given you to prepare for this?
K: The rehearsal process has been challenging. With this particular show there are a lot of prop and costume elements to contend with and such a wide range of styles vocally and physically. At London Studio Centre, the training is so diverse you really are prepared for any styles that are thrown at you!
A: The rehearsal process started really fast and hard, we learnt a routine everyday and almost all the songs by the end of week one. By having all the information and material as soon as possible, it allowed us to spend more time developing our characters and get as strong as possible in the dance routines ready for the costume runs. In general though the rehearsal process has been physically and emotionally quite tough. This cast change over has been quite large however so there were a lot of us in the same boat who could lean on each other for support. The rigorous training we had and became accustomed to at London Studio Centre really made me aware and knowledgeable about what my body can do. This meant I could push through the first few weeks of rehearsals confident of my capabilities and not become overwhelmed by the workload.
Backstage Photo collection, featuring alumni Alexander Bartles, Katrina Dix and Rebecca Hodge.
What skills had LSC given you to be able to audition, rehearse and perform successfully?
K: At London Studio Centre, the schedule was very rigorous and demanding, which helped me to develop the strength, stamina and technique needed to sustain me through the rehearsal process. Also throughout our training we were presented with multiple audition and performance experience opportunities, so upon graduation I felt well prepared for audition scenarios.
A: LSC really helped me learn how to conduct myself in auditions. I graduated from Seedtime (LSC's Musical Theatre professional third year company) directed by Matthew Shaw. Within the company I learnt advanced audition etiquette and our weekly repertoire sessions gave me a strong portfolio of material to use in auditions. The first two years of LSC provided me with a stable foundation; the technique classes made me feel comfortable in all auditions. I have a strong understanding of jazz and ballet technique, which is what you really need to rely on in all auditions. LSC’s continuous focus and development on precision and attention to detail, within barre work and jazz technique has helped me enormously in auditions and jobs so far.
What skills have you had to learn/develop through the rehearsal process?
K: Learning to tap dance on my hands is something I can definitely say I have never done before this contract!! It was so enjoyable and exciting to learn a skill that none of us could have imagined doing prior to this show. There are so many things I have enjoyed about this process so far, but one thing in particular has been the extremities to which you can push your performance and character - there is no such thing as too much, especially with the Oompa Loompas! Every move has a detailed thought process attached to it; which really stimulates you mentally and enables you get lost in the story.
What have you found hardest? What advice can you pass on to aspiring performers?!
K: I've always enjoyed physical and athletic ways of moving, but this show really pushes you to new heights as some of the costumes are particularly heavy (one weighing 4 stone!). The first time we rehearsed with costumes was a real challenge mentally and physically, but the more we persevered and encouraged one another, the more we were able to get to grips with it all. My advice to aspiring performers would be to always embrace new challenges with an open and positive mind. Mind over matter is always the way!
A: The hardest thing I have found since leaving college is the mental and emotional side of the industry. We are prepared physically very well but even if you are prepared to face rejection; it still doesn't prepare you fully for the amount of no's you will hear. I have been extremely lucky in my career so far but I have also had periods in which I just had to motivate myself to not stop driving forward. You can be your own best friend and own worst enemy, so a good support system is always needed. My advice to new performers would be to really go for it but also remember there are always going to be other opportunities. Make a good friendship group at college and through auditioning and working, and help each other as much as you can. Tearing down other people's confidence helps no one, be happy, be humble, be just a nice person to work with!
What have you enjoyed most? What are you looking forward to the most?
A: In this job I have enjoyed getting to know my colleagues the most and just marveling at what we are doing in the show. In college you are taught to dance but when in a show like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory we are also performing with props that no student would dream of working with, such as tap dancing on our hands and dancing whilst juggling bouncing balls. Now I am looking forward to becoming confident with the show and really having fun with what I do!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are currently taking bookings until January 2017. For more information about the show and how to book tickets, please click here.
We wish all our alumni in the cast the best of luck on their venture into the land of Willy Wonka.