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The Musical Theatre Academy’s Alan Bradshaw: ‘Don’t second-guess your career path’

Alan Bradshaw. Photo: MUG Photography
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How did you start in theatre?
Dance classes with Jayne Burnett and at Kimberley Performing Arts Centre before joining Wilton Productions and Kay Traviss Youth Dance Group, all in Scunthorpe. I then studied at Guildford School of Acting.

What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?
Don’t second-guess your career path or the thoughts of an audition panel. Only train professionally if your heart is truly in it. Know your competition but value individuality. Look after your physical and mental health. Be open to learning and growing – know it may feel unsettling or uncomfortable at times. Don’t be consumed by fads because a pirouette will always be a pirouette. In the words of my late, great friend Sally Hitchcock: “remain unassuming”. Lastly, always be prepared – and be prepared for anything.

What would you change about UK training?
Make it accessible to people from all backgrounds. We need to keep up the fight for government and other funding streams. If I hadn’t received a scholarship I wouldn’t be where I am now. As for arts in schools, they are not just important, they’re essential.

Which practitioners do you most admire?
My main dance mentor, Olivier award-winning choreographer Bill Deamer invested a lot in me and I am eternally grateful. I’m fortunate to have worked with many other choreographers who also have wisdom to impart: Karen Bruce’s strength, Drew McOnie’s ambition, vision and movement vocabulary, Peter Darling’s story-telling, Craig Revel Horwood’s nurturing on my first big job, JoAnn M Hunter’s energy and Stephen Mear’s care.

What can panto teach performers?
The true meaning of company spirit, performance stamina and comedy and story-telling skills, as well as the opportunity to work with and learn from great names in our industry.

Alan Bradshaw is also head of dance at the MTA and resident director and children’s director of School of Rock. He was talking to John Byrne

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