Tuesday, May 28, 2024

So You Want to Work Backstage in the World of Musical Theatre?

Musical theatre divides opinion in the same way as Marmite and if you simply can’t understand why anyone would enjoy watching people randomly break into song, who are involved in an often-questionable plot, then this article isn’t for you.

However, if you’re passionate about musical theatre and are interested in playing in the orchestra pit, managing a regional tour across receiving theatres, or indeed becoming involved in booking shows and performers, then continue reading.

Photo by November Wong on Unsplash

Stagehand & Props

One of the most important and entirely unseen elements of a theatre production is the role the stagehand plays and moreover, they are often responsible for additional tasks such as handling and supplying props, depending on the needs of the company.

To win the role of a stagehand, it’s not entirely necessary to have any particular qualifications or even have a boatload of relevant experience in the theatre. However, if you intend on expanding your portfolio and progressing to other areas of the world of backstage theatre, qualifications and experience obviously both help.

Sound & Lighting

With no working microphones and no stage lights, the performance would simply be unable to go ahead, and this is where the sound and lighting team comes in.

Amongst the average backstage team working on a particular show, whether this is within musical theatre itself, or even a live comedy show or a Shakespearian drama, not only will several members of the team have a background in the trade, but many will also want to perform themselves and move into other areas.

Respected and renowned music schools offering an in-depth degree in music business would not only be an excellent pursuit if you’re interested in working with lighting and sound but also in other areas of backstage.

Performers

Perhaps you’re particularly adept at playing the drums, the keyboard, or an electric guitar? Instead, maybe you’ve always harboured a desire to make your living as an actor or singer.

Whether you’re interested in playing in the professional orchestra pit in a prestigious London theatre, or else you want to be the lead actor in the next West End revival of Avenue Q, it’s also going to be considerably more lucrative in the context of your bank account, to work as a session singer or jobbing artist first.

Drama schools, especially those which have been officially accredited, are the best place to hone your performance skills, with music schools naturally being the ideal place to learn everything there is to know about performance and your particular instrument.

Company Managers

There are many nationally and, in some cases, even internationally known theatres acting as receiving houses across the United Kingdom, which certainly opens up the possibilities should you find West End musical theatre to be too competitive.

From Leeds Grand Theatre and the Lowry in Salford in the North of England to the Birmingham Hippodrome and the Leicester Curve, company managers are the glue holding the entire company together and pursuing a career in this role requires experience in a variety of other areas of musical theatre first.

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