Lauren Novelli, from Cheshire, is currently on a gap year after taking her A levels in 2017. In September 2018, she starts her degree at the University of Birmingham and is considering a career in stage production or TV. She shares her experience of attending West End Stage summer school in London…
So you’ve heard of West End Stage? I had too, and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. So for my 18th birthday in August this year, I packed my bags and off I went…
Wow – what an incredible time I had! Here are my top 10 reasons why I think you should go to West End Stage and why I believe it is the UK’s ultimate theatre summer school for young performers.
The experiences you get at West End Stage are unforgettable and unlike any you will experience anywhere else. You have amazing singing, acting and dance lessons every day with West End stars preparing for your performance at Her Majesty’s Theatre at the end of the week. You also have a different workshop every day.
This year, we had a professional Wicked stage make-up workshop, a Wicked workshop with Oliver Savile, who has played Fiyero in the hit musical, a headshots workshop and an intro to the highly anticipated Hamilton. The workshops were so much fun and added even more magical memories to the week.
There are also surprises throughout the week, the highlight being a chance to sing with West End Stage patron and musical theatre legend Kerry Ellis. It is not every day you get the opportunity to sing For Good with one of the most famous Elphabas on the planet!
There aren’t many other places where you can go and be who you are, where no one will judge you and where everyone wants you to succeed. West End Stage is one of those places. Everyone is genuinely happy to see each other flourish, and everyone has the same common ground – a love of musical theatre. There are musical theatre nerds in every corner, it’s amazing! You can go to West End Stage and be yourself, not who other people want you to be, which is something truly special.
There is so much support available at West End Stage – especially from the chaperones, who are a massive part of what makes the week so special. When you get to West End Stage, you are put into a group of around 15-20 with other people your age and are assigned a chaperone, who will look after you for a week. The chaperones are like the cool big brothers and sisters you desperately wished you had. If you have any problems throughout the week, no matter how big or small, they are always around for a chat and some advice. They are the most wonderful, lovely and encouraging group of people and are so easy to talk to. Trust me, at the end of the week you will not want to say goodbye to them.
West End Stage has given me so much more confidence. Everyone is so friendly and accepting of each other that any nerves that existed on the first day quickly disappeared. No one will make you do anything that you don’t want to do, such as sing solo or feature in a dance, but if you want to do these things then you have plenty of opportunity to do so. I was really nervous about dancing as I don’t have much of a dance background, but dance turned out to be my favourite class. I absolutely loved it!
As the school day lasts from 10am-5pm, West End Stage provides a real insight into what it is like to be a professional performer. As well as getting honest advice from people in the industry, you can also assess whether performing professionally is something that you want to consider.
What is the only thing better than going to see a West End show? Going to see a West End show with your new friends and 300 other musical theatre lovers, that’s what. This year, we saw the midweek matinee Wicked. It was totally magical, and the applause at the end nearly blew the roof off. We were singing Defying Gravity all night!
The teachers have all worked in the West End and have so much experience and knowledge about musical theatre. They are supportive and inspiring, while pushing you the right amount so that you can reach your full potential.
How many other kids can say they have performed on a West End stage? Performing at Her Majesty’s Theatre, home to The Phantom of the Opera, is an experience you will never forget. Standing on the stage and thinking, ‘This is where so many of my idols have stood’ is truly special. It is one of the most beautiful theatres in the West End, and the view from the stage is incredible.
I have made some of the best friends at West End Stage. You meet so many people from different countries and backgrounds, but what connects you is your passion for musical theatre and doing what you love. There are so many people to chat to and I didn’t meet one person that wasn’t friendly. I still speak to my friends I made this year every single day.
West End Stage was undoubtedly one of the best weeks of my life, and one I will never forget. Everything from the friends you make, chaperones and teachers, to the workshops, experiences and surprises, makes the week so amazing and unforgettable.
West End Stage is such an incredible experience and one I cannot recommend highly enough. Nowhere offers the same opportunities as West End Stage; it is worth every penny and more. I couldn’t have had a better time and that is why, in my opinion, West End stage lives up to its motto, and really is the ultimate theatre summer school.
When I was asked to write about my experience I was thrilled. But don’t just take my word for it: visit the West End Stage Facebook page and website to find out more information and read lots of reviews.
My advice? Book now!