To Nancy or not to Nancy...

  • Sharon Cannings

    Actor

    I've been one of those who has been resoundly against these reality shows exploiting and encouraging the complete bypassing of the acting community in favour of some cheap television.

    Now. Along comes a TV Talent Show (ie this Oliver thing) that has a part that I could actually play. Hmm. The shoe's on the other foot suddenly. I start to think, Mmm, I'm in the playing age... I can sing... how often, as an unrepresented actor, do I get a shot at a paid casing? And at least each time these shows have been on, they have given trained actors a decent job- the right person has got the gig.

    The fact that I would rather pull my own teeth out than go to most musicals currently in the West End is neither here nor there!

    At the and of the day, it's a way in, and I've tried the conventional route for the last 11 years, with limited success. Maybe my Mountview training might come in handy after all!

    Is anyone else out there having dangerous thoughts like these? Encouragement or a slap round the face, please!

    • 9th Apr 2008
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  • Alan Brent

    Actor

    If you have the time and the talent I would say 'Go for it!'

    You've nothing to lose and at the very least some exposure that (if they spell your name right) will be an experience!

    You are right for it. Age, height etc.

    Just don't be disappointed and crying if you don't get past stage 1. It is a total lottery. But to win the lottery you have to buy a ticket!

    • 12th Jan 2008
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  • Rebecca Probyn

    Actor

    I agree with everything you have said!! I have been thinking exaxtly the same thing! .. Now where to find those audition details.........

    • 12th Jan 2008
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  • Sharon Cannings

    Actor

    www.bbc.co.uk/oliver

    Just happened to come across it when surfing...

    • 12th Jan 2008
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    yeah i was thinking about going to, but have been umming and arring. Its the whole cattle market thing that puts me off, standing in the cold for hours, and still wiith the chance of them saying we are not seeing any more today! But then again, it could turn out to be a good opportunity, hmmmm....

    • 13th Jan 2008
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  • Alan Brent

    Actor

    The only problem is the waiting. Sure! But then again if you take a good book and settle in for the wait (and mention quietly that you are a professional musical theatre performer 'but keep it under your hat') to the Receptionist you may get to the front of the queue. More likely it would be better to do what they do at the sales! Queue all night!

    IF you are going to go for it then 'GO FOR IT!' Don't just turn up and use the queue for an excuse to escape! Connie didn't neither did Lee Mears. You have to be prepared to fight like a bitch if needed!

    Sorry for this short reality check!

    • 13th Jan 2008
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    I say 'Go for it'.

    As they say you have to be in it to win it, and if you don't win but get through to the TV round then it is great exposure, lots of the losers from Joseph and Maria have not looked back..........

    Good luck and I would love to support someone from CCP if they did get through.

    Sadly it's all too late for me!!

    • 13th Jan 2008
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  • Alan Brent

    Actor

    It's 'never too late' Amanda. It's just a 'little too late for this part'!

    I never let my 'age' come between me and my career!

    Alan

    • 14th Jan 2008
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  • Sharon Cannings

    Actor

    You guys are right, if you do go into things like this, you go in with your eyes open, and be ready to play the system.

    It's more about the "story" than talent at the first stages.

    I've got to get inside the head of a TV exec (scary thought) and think what they are looking for.

    And yes, bring a good book!

    I think I'll give it go- an audition is an audition at the end of the day, even though I swore that I wouldn't do another open!

    I'll keep you posted!

    xx

    • 14th Jan 2008
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  • Alan Brent

    Actor

    Give 'em Hell and really 'Go Fot It'!

    Good luck!

    • 14th Jan 2008
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    I'm just waiting for Norma Desmond to come along..............

    • 14th Jan 2008
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  • User Deleted

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    When these competitions started with the Maria show, I said how horrible don't go. But having sat and watched these programmes with my extended family and friends who are not actors. I can now see that the industry is very cynically making stars and creating a buzz for the West End musicals. I know some of my family who live in Newcastle upon Tyne and would never contemplated going to a West End musical before have now got tickets booked to see "Joseph" in March. So not only going to the trouble of seeing the production but also having to book a flight and hotel.

    So now I would say if you're brave enough to do public audition and possibly suffer public humiliation if your nerves get the better of you. Then go for it your braver person than I am. I would also say because of CCP you could make it a more fun experienced by arranging to meet up with some fellow actors off this site.

    Lastly I believe if you get past stage three and down to the finalists because of Equity negotiations you will be paid for your appearance on telly. So well worth giving Equity ring to check about payments and any other contractual advice you may need.

    Cheers

    TRACEY

    • 14th Jan 2008
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    I'm going on the Sunday girls. I've had a chat with my agents and although they are trying to get me seen for the other parts that will be cast, they are really keen for me to go. She who dares wins and all that. See you in the queue girls, we can have an impromptu (and very cold) CCP social!!

    • 14th Jan 2008
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  • Sheri Copeland

    Actor

    Good luck to everyone that is going.

    After auditioning for the Maria show, I have found that I cannot get seen for The Sound Of Music at all. This may be just a coincidence but it doesn't make sense to me at all. David Grindrod tends to call me in for things and there are a lot of roles in the show that suit my voice/age/type.

    Don't be surprised if you can't get in for the Oliver ensemble/understudy calls.

    • 14th Jan 2008
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  • Sharon Cannings

    Actor

    That's something I'd not considered, Tracey, I'll look into it if I get past the first hurdle!

    Make you wonder though if they would go for more non-professionals if they could get away with not paying them- or does it apply to all?

    I would have to do the Friday as I don't want to give up work on the saturday or sunday- I would only resent standing in the cold more if I was missing out on money!

    If anyone else is braving the first day let me know!

    • 14th Jan 2008
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  • Alan Brent

    Actor

    Those who get through to the finals will be paid for their appearances as Equity have already negotiated this. Pro or not.

    • 14th Jan 2008
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    I hate this shows..... but if I had a better singing voice I would be a complete hypocrite and be there! So goof luck to all who try....!

    Li xx

    • 14th Jan 2008
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  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    To take a totally different perspective on this than we have been addressing already...and rather putting the cart before the horse (I mean, we should get the auditions out of the way first and see if people get through!).

    One of the more subtle 'dangers' of dealing with a show like this is, I think, that everyone tends to looks towards the end without worrying about the process that is used to meet that end. I am not greatly offended by the idea that, say, a Lee Mead can become a shoe - in for West End runs because he has been selected by a TV audience for the honour (though I am not a MT performer, so it conceivably bugs me less). In essence, though, I think there is even a kind of commendable quality in the fact that one of our own (or, if you prefer, several of our own i.e. the runners up) - frequently jobbing pros who are trawling the industry circuit looking for a break - are allowed a break by dint of such a show. Certainly, when the West End remains locked in a permanent 'attract bums on seats' stranglehold which dictates that all major parts go, these days, to anyone from boy band stars to alternative comedians on the basis that they are 'famous' and will bring in the punters, but when the employment of genuine, trained MT performers is as rare as hens' teeth, to have a genuine trained performer (however selected) actually taking the lead in a West End show seems like a breath of fresh air.

    I don't doubt that anyone who has been well trained and knows their profession should be as capable in front of the studio audience as any, and as Alan says, why not go for it?

    My issues with the format are rather different. Essentially, I think anyone who volunteers to sign up for a 'reality TV show' (however it's packaged) needs to be very careful at all times that their dignity, self - esteem etc. are protected. The trouble is, all TV needs to tell stories. We all complain about how there is no decent quality drama on TV these days; it's all reality TV. But however much money the TV companies save on costumes, they all still realise that drama is essentially what makes people tune in to a show. And even in reality TV land, they have to manufacture drama.

    Partly, this is done by selecting only the people who are likely to behave most interestingly on camera - so you might say that the 'audition' process is flawed from the start; in a standard situation, Lord Lloyd-Webber (or whoever) wouldn't be under pressure to select a person who could sing, dance…and have a wobbler every time someone else did better than him in a competition, say. Alright, give shows like this the benefit of the doubt - and assume that it is genuinely only the best prospects who get through. What happens next?

    Basically, the story gets manipulated. What the papers want, what the public want to invest in is: the story of the poor, downtrodden no hoper who is given a chance at stardom - their last chance to better themselves, or the story of the arrogant bitch whom everybody loves to hate, or the story of the kid who really hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell, because he speaks with a northern accent, but is kept in because he's funny…or whatever. Now, it's probably the case that none of these people are actually really any of these things they are presented as being - a tragic hero, a poison bitch, a clown - but the drama will work better if they are shown to be such. And, believe me, if you are lucky enough to get through auditions, then it is not the live shows that you should be worrying about (at least, no more, as a seasoned performer, than you should worry about performing on any stage) - it's the fact that you will be stuck living in a small house with 10 strangers for weeks on end, under intense pressure to perform, with a camera crew filming you practically 24-7. And they will use whatever footage they feel like (judiciously edited, of course) to tell whatever story is going to work for them. Probably everyone is likely to cry in a high trauma situation at some point - they can make it look like you are the sort of person who collapses into a blubbering wreck at the first sight of difficulty. Everyone will lose their temper at some point in such crowded, high stress conditions - they can make you look like a raging maniac if they so wish. You can end up being shown to be sycophantic, or superficial, or sex - mad or whatever, and while it will all have a small grain of truth (the camera can't record what isn't there) over weeks and weeks, all the foibles and intricacies of your personality will break through, and the public stand the chance of become accustomed to a constructed 'you' that is nothing like the reality.

    Lee in Joseph is an interesting case, because he was always made out to be the strong, smooth, generally unruffled, ruggedly professional one of the troupe, and, lo and behold, he won. I felt sorry (the whole point, I suppose) on the other hand, for Lewis, for example, who seemed to me like a talented guy, but got told so repeatedly that he was whiny, and weak, and went to pieces every five minutes (I've no idea if that was the whole truth - I think it unlikely) that he lost most of his confidence, and ended up believing what they said himself. Or for Rob, who really looked like the ordinary working bloke he was, and, frankly, was never likely to have landed a job in the West End being a musical leading man, and would no doubt have been turned away at the very first audition as unsuitable for the role in the real world (which is not to say that he wouldn't have been great at some part more suited to his look - Bill Sikes, maybe, or Nicely - Nicely in 'Guys and Dolls'), but was kept on for the sake of evoking the story that even 'ordinary' folk have a chance to become stars overnight. They never stopped referring to him as 'Rob the Builder', of course, just to underline this amazing fact - that they had discovered a man who could do an ordinary job, and also sing nicely, the implication always being that this was a bit like discovering a horse that could also do interior decorating - you couldn't see what use you'd have for it, but boy, it surprised you.

    So, what I'm trying to say, then, is you've got to be careful when you sign up to these types of shows - you must be prepared for what they are going to force you to live through for three months in order to be in with winning the 'chance of a lifetime'. None of this comes cheap, and I suspect for some of those who don't win, the problem of having so much of their dirty laundry aired on screen so that everyone has something to discuss over the breakfast table the following morning doesn't do them any favours in the long run.

    Never forget you are a trained professional with talent, and you deserve to be respected as such; they are lucky to have found *you.*

    That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.

    • 14th Jan 2008
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  • Sheri Copeland

    Actor

    Lee, I bow down to your wisdom and insight!

    • 14th Jan 2008
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  • User Deleted

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    Hello All,

    I'm so pleased you brought this one up.I've decided to go despite my views on them in the past. However I prob would have gone to the Maria ones if my college had let me.

    At the end of the day we'll be getting seen and as long as we remember they'll be putting crap through to make good tv and not take it personally it can't do any harm. Most of the finalists form the other programmes have done really well, even the ones kicked out in the first couple of live shows.

    To be honest, I will do anything to get my career up and running so am prepared to queue up and freeze. Lots of layers and tea needed me thinks.

    I'm going on the friday too so maybe see some of you there.

    Best of luck to all and would be interesting to hear how it went for everyone after!

    Anyone know what time we should get there?

    Cheers,

    Katy x

    • 14th Jan 2008
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