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My First Audition: Hugh Maynard

Hugh Maynard. Photo: Benjamin Brown Hugh Maynard. Photo: Benjamin Brown

I was quite academic and sporty at school. The local amateur groups in Devon where I grew up wouldn’t have me – not knowing the words of Bring Me Sunshine was my downfall. So there was no one to steer me towards performing arts or give me advice. My friend Megan, who was at ALRA, heard me sing and said I should apply to her drama school, but she didn’t tell me how to go about it. If only she’d given me a few tips.

I duly applied and was given an audition date. I got the train to London and turned up at the Wandsworth building, carrying a Labi Siffre tape to which I intended to sing along. “Do you have a speech?” they said when I walked in.

Puzzled, I began “My name is Hugh Maynard and I come from Paignton…” Of course they stopped me and said they meant Shakespeare or Wilde. Eventually, I produced my tape and there was an embarrassed silence while I wound it back – another faux pas.

Then I sang and everything changed. I watched four faces light up as they began to murmur excitedly to each other. The utterly astonishing outcome was that they offered me a two-year scholarship.

I did two years at ALRA learning how to research roles – although I was mostly cast in non-speaking roles because I had a lisp. I spent a six-week summer break working with a hypnotherapist and speech therapist and then went to Arts Ed to learn musical theatre.

When I was in my second year I depped for an indisposed third year as the constable in Fiddler on the Roof, using a Ukrainian accent carefully copied from a friend. By the end of the evening I had an agent and an offer from Andrew Lloyd Webber to play Simon Zealotes/understudy Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar.

So despite that dreadful first audition, it worked out for me. I don’t advise anyone aiming for drama school to do what I did, though. Find out exactly what it is required and be as prepared as you possibly can.

CV: Hugh Maynard

Age: 40
Training: Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, Arts Ed
Theatre includes: Jesus Christ Superstar, The Lion King, Notre Dame de Paris, Follies, Dancing in the Streets, Sister Act. Currently playing John in Miss Saigon
Singing: Something Inside So Strong (album, 2015), Tenors of Rock (concerts worldwide)
Agent: Grantham Hazeldine

Hugh Maynard was talking to Susan Elkin

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