Archive for the ‘Musical Theatre’ Category

Your reputation precedes you…good and bad!

By Kenneth Avery-Clark


We have all heard this expression before but it is so true, especially in show business.

We are constantly ‘harping on’ at students to always remember this, and just yesterday I received a phone call that confirms it! But not just that your reputation precedes you but even more important that people WILL and DO ask around about you.

A choreographer who I worked with 5 years ago rang me out of the blue.  It was lunchtime and he was on a break from auditioning for a new musical. That morning he saw a girl who (uh-oh) had my name on her CV as someone who had directed her.  He said she was ‘perfect’ for the role they were casting but they didn’t get a good idea of what she was like as a person. His questions:

  1. What’s she like as a person? (obviously)
  2. Was she a good company member?

Now, despite my above poor effort at suspense, in this case I am pleased to say that I was able to give a glowing review. I only directed this person once but I said she was an excellent company member and really threw herself into the role and was always willing to try new things – he especially liked that comment because he was working on a new musical that was ever-evolving. I also said she was extremely nice! He said ‘so, you would definitely work with her again and recommend her’ which I replied ’absolutely’.

He said something else that made me really think. He said that she had looked like she COULD have had a bit of ‘attitude’. I quashed that immediately saying it was probably nerves.

The lesson? No matter how ‘perfect’ you are for a role a simple phone call can take it one way or another. And, it’s so important how you come across at an audition.



Easter Bonnet

Posted: April 21, 2015 in Musical Theatre, New York

If you are ever in NYC for the Broadway Cares Easter Bonnet competition you have to check this out. As long as you don’t mind seeing your favourite Broadway musicals being destroyed (in a good way). The cast members from these shows perform short segments culminating in a cast member entering with a huge themed head dress (their Easter Bonnet). I have to say it was a real laugh.

This traditional event raises a heap of money for charity and in true American style they do it BIG! Held at the Minskoff Theatre (home of Lion King) the place was packed. The Easter Bonnet celebration is derived from Christianity (of course) – dressing up to honour Christ’s resurrection and in more modern times evolves to buying something luxurious (a hat) to mark the end of lent, then showing it off at the Easter Parade.

My favourite moment had to be Avenue Qs (currently off-Broadway) rendition of Lion King’s Circle of Life where their puppets became animal head dresses. Too complex to explain but so, so funny.

Partly hosted by Micah Scott (It’s Only A Play) and Ann Harada (Original Christmas Eve in Avenue Q), they had such hilarious banter. Micah says to Ann, ‘It was a dream of mine to see you in Avenue Q’. She said, ‘Ah, that’s sweet, did you enjoy it?’. He said, ‘I didn’t see it, my mom said I wasn’t aloud to until I was twelve…you had left by then’.

It was a perfect ending to a long day. A day that started with me getting caught in a down pour. Even with an umbrella I found myself in the cafe where I met my friend, wringing out my socks, pretty! As I fought my way there (15 blocks, NO cabs) I got caught in a vortex and nearly did a Mary Poppins.

So tonight I go to Opening Press Night of the new musical Dr. Zhivago. Can’t wait to see what that’s all about. The evening starts with drinks at Sardi’s, followed by the show and after party at Rockefeller Centre. I’m already tired thinking about it, but super excited at the same time.

Off now to do my research on who’s who!

No small parts….

Posted: April 19, 2015 in Musical Theatre, New York

OK. So we have all heard the expression ‘there are no small parts just small actors’, well when you ARE that small part it can sometimes feel as though that’s a load of bull, but believe me it is not!

I find myself back in NYC again and before I embark on all I have to do here this week I thought I would grab the opportunity to see ON THE TOWN which I had heard so much about.

I found myself leaving the show thinking a lot about some of the absolutely hilarious performances of the ‘non-leading’ (although the leads were great too) performances. Jackie Hoffman, who at first appears as a little old lady and with about ten second scenes here and there still manages to bring the house to full-on laughter. She then returns as a singing teacher and I have to say I think she is the funniest person alive. I also know that the choices she made were her own! I could just tell.

Allison Guinn was another scene stealer with fantastic cameo portrayals throughout and then with her main featured role as Lucy Schmeeler she was all over it. So, so funny.

I’m constantly telling my students that smaller roles can be oh so big in the larger scheme but I never think they believe me. When will they realise that the lead roles are not always the best. They are usually like the bride and groom on the top of the wedding cake, yeah they look good, but it’s the layers of icing and cake underneath that we enjoy the most!

Anyway, not to take away from the three leading gents who worked their butts off today (I can’t imagine doing what they did today 8 shows a week). The talent was incredible.

A great Broadway day out! What I saw makes me remember why I do what I do!


Godspell first sneak preview here. Amazing voices!

Tony Tony Tony!!!

Posted: March 24, 2015 in Motivation, Musical Theatre

I met Tony Bayliss back in 2009.


He was a Royal Marine who had seen it all in the Middle East. After having left the Marines he decided to go after what he really had a passion for. He studied at a music academy in California learning to play guitar along the way and then came back to London where he came in to my studios one day.

Tony was sickeningly fit, in his late 30s, bald and with a strong East London accent – didn’t look like your typical musical theatre type – whatever that is! He said he wanted to do musical theatre and ‘give it a go’! His main worry was if he was too old. I listened to him sing and here’s what happened:

– I accepted him onto our part-time musical theatre programme. He excelled.

– I offered him a place on our 1 year, full-time musical theatre programme. He excelled.

– He won the award for the top musical theatre student when he graduated from AMTA.

– I hired him! To teach BOOTCAMP and NUTRITIAN at AMTA. I wanted him to put the students through their paces outside in the rain, snow, sleet or hail – give them some of that Army discipline he had, that so many of the students lacked!

– He was worked for us ever since but what about the acting? Well, he’s done commercials, music videos and stage. He co-wrote the music and played in the band for an original musical WAG, The Musical (oh, and met Andrew Lloyd Webber who saw the show) which was on at the Charing Cross Theatre, West End. He’s worked with West End director Kate Golledge in a recent new musical workshop and he has just had his…wait for it… debut at THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL in Madam Butterfly.

When he came to see me back in 2009 and if you had told me then that in 6 years he will be on stage at the Royal Albert Hall, I think I would have passed out with excitement.

I remember saying to Tony that it only takes 1 person to believe in you and if I’m that person, that’s fine with me! Let’s DO THIS!

It goes to show you that age doesn’t matter. A desire to learn and the discipline to get where you want to go is what counts. It’s the ACTION you take!

Tony has made me and everyone at the Academy so proud.

Way to go Tony! See a couple of photos here.