Musical Theatre FAQs

Musical Theatre is one of the most advanced and popular programmes that we run. We have recently opened a second day of regular Musical Theatre workshops, as the waiting list for the Saturday sessions was over 2 years’ long! Musical Theatre is an exciting and intensive programme, which introduces young people to the rigours and challenges of the genre…exploring a range of material from across the world, members will sing, act, dance and work towards regular presentations. It’s a thorough commitment and we need both members and their families to understand exactly what is involved before jumping in. Do have a read of our FAQs to find out more!

Who are the directors of the workshop – how can I find out more about them?

Juliet Vankay is the director of Musical Theatre, with Richard Norris and Leo Steeds being the Music Directors. Every member of the department is a professional practitioner and they have vast experience as both performers and directors of theatre and musical theatre. If you’d like to know more about their training and their experience, have a look at their biographies on the Team page of the website.

What space do we work in?

Usually the Saturday workshops will take place in the main theatre at The Dream Factory, and the Wednesday workshops are based in the rehearsal studio. Sometimes your space will vary, depending upon special events that are also running at the theatre that day.

What should I wear to my Musical Theatre workshop?

What you dress in is very important! You must wear Comfortable and practical clothing that you can move freely and dance in, as well as trainers or dance shoes. If you do not arrive wearing appropriate clothing, you may not be admitted to the workshop.

Do I need to bring anything with me to my workshop?

Yes, you must always bring a pencil to make notes on your music (not a pen, as you will often need to amend what you’ve written)…and you should always bring a bottle of water as you will need to keep yourself fresh and hydrated.

Do I need to be able to read to join this course?

Yes, members of Musical Theatre must be fluent readers as there will be lots of lyrics to learn, and these are distributed as text.

Do I need to be able to read music?

No, although we will sometimes give you sheet music to take home so you can tackle any complex harmonies, for those that find it useful.

I don’t have any previous Musical Theatre experience…will I be able to cope?

Absolutely! You don’t need any previous experience to join this programme…although if you do have some, this is also super! Our directors are highly trained and are able to accommodate young people of all backgrounds and experiences. You will quickly be welcomed into the team and brought up to speed.

Will I have the chance to perform, as part of this workshop?

YES! Usually at the end of every season we stage an open presentation for family and friends to come and share. Occasionally, if we are working on a really big and complex musical we might work on this over two seasons and, if this happens, we invite parents to come in at the end of the first season to watch part of your rehearsals so they can see what you are working on. The presentation is an opportunity to celebrate the work that you’ve been doing, and to share the results with your family and friends. Sometimes the presentation will be in the main stage at The Dream Factory, other times it might be in the rehearsal studio, or in the front of house space as entertainment for people relaxing in the foyer! Members of Musical Theatre are eligible to audition for any musical productions that Playbox Theatre presents, although success is never guaranteed.

How much acting, singing and dancing is involved – I enjoy all three?!

Within Musical Theatre, the focus is primarily on singing, with musical ‘staging’. This sometimes includes choreography, but is all dependent upon the musical that we are exploring. In terms of ‘acting’ – on this course, the acting is tackled through your singing, where we will focus on the emotional interpretation, vocal and facial expression and your characterisation. If you want to explore acting in more detail, you should aim to be a member of one of the Theatre Training Programmes instead, or in addition, to Musical Theatre.

What’s a typical 2 hour session like?

Although our weekly workshops will vary depending upon the specific challenges of the day, we will always start with a vocal warm up around the piano, before working through the ‘numbers’ from the musical we are focussing on. We always work on the singing first and then start to add staging and choreography second, once you have conquered the basics of the music. There can be a lot of tough harmony work at the beginning with lots of note bashing and repetition – it is VERY important to understand that you need to work through this in order to be able to get stuck into the staging. As a musical theatre performer you have to be good at multi-tasking and you have to be hard-working and patient! We pride ourselves on achieving very high standards in the Musical Theatre department and you will be driven hard to achieve highly. This is not a ‘quick satisfaction’ workshop and you will need to put in a lot of intense work at the beginning of exploring a new musical, before you have the chance to start staging it (which is when the fun really begins!).

What sort of material does Musical Theatre explore?

All sorts! We aim to programme an eclectic and far-reaching programme of material, so that our members are constantly challenged and able to expand their musical theatre knowledge. We will explore musicals from Les Miserables to Hamilton, from Billy Elliot to Into the Woods. We choose work that will challenge our young people in different ways each season, so if one musical has lots of complex harmonies we will use that as the focus for one season, but then next time, we might chose a musical that is simpler to sing, but with trickier choreography. That being said, we always try to select musicals that are fun to work on and often our members will put in requests for what they’d like to look at next season…where possible we will incorporate these ideas.

I’m really experienced…can I move up to the next group early?

No you can’t. The material that we explore with each age group is very carefully selected and is appropriate to the range of ages in that workshop. We have members taking part across a wide range of experiences…some who are complete newcomers with a passion for singing…others who have played ‘Matilda’ in The West End! Our directors will ensure that every member is well-looked after, challenged, stimulated and developing in the group that is appropriate for their age.

Do I have to do homework between my workshops?

Yes, you will need to learn song lyrics in between sessions and this is really important – it is always difficult to move onto staging when you have a script in your hand, so you need to support this process. The more effort you put in between workshops, the more you will get out of the workshop.

What happens if I can’t make a session?

We do ask Musical Theatre members to attend every workshop if at all possible, as we are constantly working towards a presentation. If you are absent, this really impacts on the rest of the ensemble and can have a big impact upon progress. However, if you really can’t make a session, we ask you to let us know in advance and we will endeavour to take you through everything you missed the following week. We can also send you the material you have missed via email, so you can familiarise yourself with the songs. It would be your responsibility to request the material and your job to get on top of it before your next session!

Can I audition for all Playbox productions if I only attend Musical Theatre?

If you only attend this specialist course, then you are only eligible to attend auditions for Playbox’s musicals (usually one is staged per year). If you would like to attend auditions across the range of work that Playbox stages, then you will need to also be a member of one of the Theatre Training workshops. Our Membership Director will be able to talk to you about availability and where the Theatre Training workshops take place. Drop her an email elaine@playboxtheatre.com

How much does it cost to join the workshop?

Musical Theatre is a 2-hour weekly workshop, so costs more than the Theatre Training session. If you are only a member of Musical Theatre, the fee is £150 per season (same as school term). If you also attend a Theatre Training workshop, the fee is £140 per season.

I like the sounds of this…how do I apply to join Musical Theatre?

We would love to welcome you to our wonderful Musical Theatre department! Spaces are very limited and some of the groups have waiting lists, so you now need to contact Elaine Ball in Membership on 01926 419 555 ext 1 or email Elaine@playboxtheatre.com We will offer you a place as soon as possible!