Is there a career in musical theatre?
- The number of theatre productions is on the rise, but so are budget cuts - is a career in musical theatre proving a unreachable goal?
According to Statista, only 21% of adults visited the theatre in 2016, despite there being 42,866 productions across this year.
With cuts to the arts sector and schools encouraging a focus in more academic subjects, it leads to the question – is there a career in musical theatre?
Bethany-Hannah Winteringham, 20, is a young woman trying to find her way to the big stage and create a profession in musical theatre.
Miss Winteringham explains that her passion for the theatre started at a young age:
“My Mum enrolled me in dance classes from the age of 3 so I have been performing for as long as I can remember. From an extremely young age, I experienced the exhilaration of being in the theatre and performing to a live audience and I have been hooked ever since”.
For Beth, her main entry point into theatre was through the opportunities she was given through joining drama clubs at school and choose arts-related courses, a privilege that many young people may not be given if the cuts continue.
“My time at the school provided me with opportunities to improve my abilities in all 3 disciplines of musical theatre- dancing, singing and acting. This training was valuable to me in order to pursue a career in performance”, Miss Winteringham explains.
As opportunities to take part within the arts decrease, breaking into the musical theatre industry becomes increasingly more difficult as Beth describes:
“It is tough trying to break into the industry, I think all performers would agree with me when I say that we face a lot of self-doubt and confusion on which route is the best one to take but there is no real answer”.
In a recent article, the BBC interviewed Alistair Smith, editor of The Stage newspaper, who explains that the way theatres are dealing with the cuts to productions is to make their casts smaller:
"What that [the increase in number of productions] would seem to indicate is that it's a change in the business model, moving away from the more traditional producing theatre model of having shows sit down for quite a long time and run for a month or so, to a model where you have more shows doing shorter runs, possibly with smaller casts as well”.
A decrease in cast members results in less job opportunities for those within the musical theatre industry, and furthermore a more advanced skill set to secure the job.
Beth ensures she has the best chance of securing any opportunity she is given through her methods of preparing for the role:
“I use a variety of methods but firstly I read through the piece to see the journey my character goes on, the ups and downs they experience; this can be very telling of their nature and therefore helps you build a profile”.
Whilst the number of productions throughout the year is on the rise, budgets cuts are still very real for the arts industry, and with less opportunities for young people to break into the industry, will musical theatre become a dying art?