10 mistakes you make when starting out in Musical Theatre

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1. Stay Fit outside the show. 

I mean, you thought 8 shows a week meant no more exercise for you. So pork pies on the train home with a side portion of scratchings is the order of the day. It’s amazing how all those hours under the lights in thick costumes isn’t the new Atkins. You still need to go to the gym, or you’ll have an awkward conversation with your wardrobe mistress 6 months in. *Happened to a friend*

2. Beware of belting your BO-jangles off. 

You thought that doing all that singing for a living would be enough to keep your technique in tip top shape. But you’ll soon learn that after a big night out in ‘The Players’ (is that place still open?) your voice just isn’t holding up like it used to. Get yourself a good singing teacher, and then a few more, until you finally find the one and have regular singing lessons. One little bad habit creeping in 8 times a week can make for a rusty old instrument in the long run.

3. Don’t get defensive in notes sessions.

Don’t do this, you will look like a nob. All the other actors will just roll their eyes at you. Unless the note is life threatening or you don’t understand it, just take the note on the chin. Try not to take notes personally. They are about you, but really they aren’t, are they?! They’re about the job you’re doing. Of course have a voice and contribute, but don’t be that one person that everyone always hides behind their notepads at.

4. Stretch your bum.

Or you’ll end up with a backside like a horses from all those rakes and heels. I mean, you may wanna whip it back-and-forth but your hip flexors, back and hamstrings will pay the price. Don’t leave your poor rump out. She needs the stretch!

5. Don’t forget your mates. 

We’ve all been there, new job, new people, new life. It’s so bloody exciting you feel like you’re on triple espressos for the first few weeks. This is usually where boyfriends and girlfriends get dumped and you stop calling your mates. There is always room for new people in your life, like the Dalai Lama we all have an ‘Open Heart’. But, being grounded in this profession is the most realistic way to keep your head and keep your life balanced. See your mates. Unless they’re arseholes, then of course dump ’em.

6. Always be nice to wardrobe.

I won’t teach you how to suck eggs, you know you should always be nice to everyone, well most. But a wardrobe mistress once told me a story about how a girl threw a diva strop and chucked her tights in her face. So, every day for two weeks she took her costume IN a millimeter at a time. I mean!!! Sure. No matter how stressed you are in a quick change, flipping out isn’t gonna speed anything up. So, be nice or be fake fat.

7. You won’t always be the most talented person in the room.

In fact most of the time you definitely won’t be. This is the best part about this job. You will be surrounded by greatness at every turn. Watch, absorb and appreciate. It’s amazing how much more of an impact that will have on your own growth rather than jealousy and comparison.

8. Save your Tax. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Save your tax from week one. You can set up a direct debit that goes out weekly. If you don’t get on top of your tax straight away you will spend your life a year behind. *Happened to a different friend*

9. Start saving from your first job.

Oh the houses I could’ve bought with the money I could’ve saved. It took me nearly ten years of working to start understanding the concept of an ISA. I’m disappointed that I didn’t do a weekly direct debit from the word go. But hey, I have plenty of Chinese takeaways and clothes from Primark to show for it. Save now! Feed the Piggy.

10. You’re not saving lives. 

I want you to know that the job you’re doing is super important. You are the magic people can believe it. It’s a wonderful gift, what you have to give. But if you are ill, for goodness sake please go home. You are human. You get sick. Nobody dies if you’re not at the show. It carries on just fine. That’s what swings and understudies are for. Let them do their job. No one will want to talk to you at work anyway, as they’ll all be holding their breath trying not to catch what you’ve got. Give yourself a break. Admit you’re ill and make like a ramp and get over it. You’re brilliant. Go to bed.

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A Performers Guide to surviving the in-between

How to Tame Audition Anxiety, For Good.
5 Essential Habits for Happy Actors
How to survive a Panic Attack Onstage
50 Ways to be organised. Always

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9 thoughts on “10 mistakes you make when starting out in Musical Theatre

    NevNYC (@NevNYC)

    (July 8, 2016 - 10:21 pm)

    Love this!


    Roger Manning

    (July 9, 2016 - 7:30 pm)


    These concepts should be taught to all the young actors in school trying to decide on a future.

    Theater is a business and the best, most reliable, and versatile workers get the jobs acting or as crew. And, once you have the job, you must be ready for the next, because you serve at the pleasure of the ticket-buying public.


      Sophie Linder-Lee

      (July 9, 2016 - 7:31 pm)

      Thanks Roger! The aim of The Happy Performer is to inspire, teach and give people a giggle. The mission continues!


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