West End performer Michael Xavier has claimed that a “snobbery” towards musical theatre is preventing performers working in the genre being considered for roles in plays.
Xavier, who trained in straight acting at Manchester Metropolitan University before landing work in musicals, said he felt he had become “pigeonholed a little” as a musical theatre performer, which has made it harder for him to land work in other areas of the industry. Since graduating in 1999 he said he has only appeared in one play professionally – Tim Fountain’s Rock – and argued performers like him were missing out on the chance to appear in plays because producers doubt their acting ability.
“There is a snobbery about musical theatre – still – and a sense that if you are in musicals you probably trained at a musical theatre drama school and that you therefore focused on dancing and singing and you can’t act.
“That is a generalised opinion from a lot of departments, if you like,” he said.
He added: “You just have to go to an audition and prove that you can do it as well as the next person from RADA.”
However, Xavier, currently starring in The Sound of Music at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, said he “loved” musical theatre and claimed there is a “camaraderie” among the company of a musical that does not exist in teams staging straight plays.
For a full interview with Xavier, see this week’s print edition of The Stage or sign up for a free trial of our digital edition.