Dear West End Producer: ‘Will a reality TV gig get me work in commercial theatre?’

West End Producer
Photo: Matt Crockett
by -

It’s certainly not better to go on a reality TV show than to train at drama school. A drama school will provide you with a solid training, allowing you to develop both as a performer and person. You will leave feeling confident and knowledgeable about working in all aspects of the business.

Going on a reality TV show will provide you with no such experience – you will most likely spend your time in a bikini, being loud, brash, and snogging as many people as possible to make yourself ‘popular’.

Going to drama school nourishes the soul, appearing on a reality TV show kills it.

However, our business is changing, and those wannabes who want a quick way to fame and a photo in Heat magazine may choose the reality TV route. And they may make a nice living from it.

But let’s be honest – they won’t get any respect in the profession, and most of the time won’t actually possess any talent. The only reason they’ll get a commercial theatre job is because they’ll sell some tickets. But the truth is that even if these reality stars do get a job they’ll spend most of the time off sick because their voice and body aren’t trained to cope with eight shows a week.

Now I’m not saying that all reality shows are full of talentless egomaniacs who just want to sleep with celebrities – but most of them are.

Some real talent has come from those -musical contests such as Superstar, Over the -Rainbow and I’d Do Anything – and indeed many of those contestants now have brilliant musical theatre careers.

Appearing on those kind of specific industry shows can be very clever – as you can get a bit of a name for yourself and thus an advantage over other people.

Also, it must be said that there has been excellent talent on The X Factor and -Britain’s Got Talent. But people who go on things like Love Island and Big Brother are usually -confined to the dustbin of Z-list celebs, who soon after are only spotted at nightclub launches posing for photos and getting drunk on cheap Prosecco. Even those reality contestants who actually have talent may find themselves -tarnished with the ‘Isn’t she the one off that reality TV show?’ brush. It will be very hard for any of them to move away from musicals and pantos into more serious plays and TV work. But then again that’s -probably not what they want – and if they’re happy spending their career doing tours of musicals then that’s great.

For my money, drama school training is by far the best method. This way you learn your craft and refine your skills over three years – and leave ready for any job the business offers you. And you won’t have a reality show reputation haunting you for the rest of your career.

We live in a time when people want to get famous fast – and some annoying, dull -reality stars achieve that. But the real actors, the real talented ones who last, are the ones who trained and worked their way to the top. Now that’s what I call real talent, dear.

Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer

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