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High School Musical director: ‘British drama training gives UK actors the edge over American performers’

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American director and choreographer Kenny Ortega has said he believes that British actors are “the best” because of the “impeccable” drama training in the UK.

Ortega, who directed the High School Musical film franchise, said that while there are many great artists in the US, he prefers the technique of British actors.

He told The Stage: “I love Broadway, I’m a big fan and I’ve been going since the early 1970s, seeing so many great shows, but I just love the acting style here.

“I’ve always thought that British actors are the best. The schooling, the technique and especially in young people. There’s a young lot of men and women coming up that I discover in films that just blow me away in how tremendous they are.”

Ortega said that this could be because the UK had been “doing it longer” and is the home of Shakespeare.

“I think we have a lot of great teachers in the States, I’m not putting anybody down, there’s so many great teachers and actors, but there’s just something here. You’ve got the Royal Shakespeare Company and the training for the stage is impeccable,” he said.

He added: “[British actors] are doing so, so well [in the States]. We love them, we reward them. They’re brilliant and smashing success in both the theatre and movies.”

The choreographer and director, whose credits also include Dirty Dancing, was speaking to promote his latest film Descendants 2, in which he is executive producer, director and choreographer.

Ortega also commented on cuts to the arts in education in the US, saying it “broke his heart” to revisit his hometown and hear that arts, theatre and music programmes were being pulled out of the schools.

“To think there are generations of kids missing out on having music as a part of their curriculum and having theatre history as a part of their curriculum,” he said.

“So now I’m on a path to find a way to bring it back into my community, because it was just hugely important and why I survived school. I struggled, life was not easy for me, I was bullied and came from a tough life, and having music and having theatre lifted me out of what could have been a really dark existence.”

He added: “It can enliven your soul and spirit, and give you purpose and reason to continue on, so I’m going to fight for it.”

Descendants 2 premieres on October 20 at 5.30pm on the Disney Channel.

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