Drew Taylor - Youth Music Theatre UK - YMT Blog - Photo: Blazej Marczak

'Be prepared for anything...' - Drew Taylor


Glasgow-based writer and theatre-maker Drew Taylor offers his views on auditions and who you should be checking out!

Drew has worked with YMT several times over the last few years, including last year's zombie-musical The Coorie Cave... or... How to survive a zombie apocalypse and come out singing as well as a workshop week in Alicante! He has LOADS of exciting stuff planned for 2016, so make sure you check out his website.

The Coorie Cave - Youth Music Theatre UK - YMT

The Coorie Cave... Or... How to survive a zombie apocalypse and come out singing, 2015. Photo: James Taylor-Wilson

How to prepare for an audition:

Read through everything that has been sent to you! Twice! Wear suitable clothing so that you can move around if necessary! Get some good sleep the night before and allow more than enough time to travel to the location!

Top Tips for auditionees:

We want to find the best possible people for the YMT Company, which means people that can deliver the goods, who can adapt their performance to what we're asking for and... fundamentally... that you are a team player. Be friendly, but not over eager; know when chattiness goes into idle waffle and be prepared for anything...

Favourite show?

Particularly In The Heartland / Architecting / MissionDrift - The TEAMFake It 'til You Make It - Bryony Kimmings and The Lion King.

What/who should young people research in the arts?

Definitely check out the TEAMBryony KimmingsThe Royal Court Theatre London and Perfect Pitch - they develop brand new musicals.

Favourite Food?

My mum's Spaghetti Bolognese.... and Haribo...

Ideal holiday:

When HOT: nothing, sat by a pool. When COOL: sightseeing and exploring a new culture. Also, San Francisco is my spiritual home.

THE most important question: Scone (as in stone) or Scone (as in gone)?


Make sure you check out Drew's website for all his incredible upcoming projects.

Ellie Jones - Youth Music Theatre UK - YMT

'Be yourself. Be brave. Be silly.' - Ellie Jones


Director Ellie Jones gives her thoughts on auditioning for YMT.

Ellie Jones has been part of YMT for a few years now, having directed According to Brian Haw (2013), Vanishing Point (2013), Miss Interpreted (2014) and last year's Dirty Stop Outs (2015). She'll also be directing this year's Fight Like a Girl (our women's boxing epic) at Dean Clough Halifax. 

Tips for auditionees:

I want to find out who you are, what you feel comfortable doing and how keen you are to try new things. Be yourself. Be brave. Be silly. Failing spectacularly is better than barely attempting something you can't do. In fact, I rather love that in a performer. Remember when you come into the room that we are all in it together. We can't do anything without you and all we want is for you to feel safe enough to join in and play with us.

Favourite show?

Sweeney Todd, Guys and Dolls, Man of La Mancha and Floyd Collins.

What/who should young people research in the arts?

Follow your interests. If you like a composer/performer/director/writer's work find out what else they've done. Some places/companies I love: Battersea Arts Centre, Southwark Playhouse, Manchester Royal Exchange, Improbable, Goat and Monkey, Kneehigh.... I could go on...

Favourite food?

Champagne. And Strawberries.

Ideal holiday?

Sailing... or any place I don't have to take the kids.

THE most important question: Scone (as in stone) or Scone (as in gone)?

Scone (gone) obviously. I'm a southerner with a very middle class grandmother.

YMT Auditions are taking place NOW - book here.

Stuart Harvey

Meet the 2016 Auditions Team - Stuart Harvey


Director and YMT Practitioner STUART HARVEY tells us what to do in auditions.

Training: I trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School on their postgraduate Directors' Course. Since then I have worked as a freelance theatre director and playwright. I spent a year at the Chichester Festival Theatre as a Youth Theatre Director and for the past 3 years I have been Head of Acting at the Wilkes Academy, a full time performing arts college training performers in musical theatre.

What are you looking for from auditionees?

Truth! All too often performers split the three disciplines into three different performance styles - the amount of times I have witnessed tight lipped, silence dancing or singers staring into a dark middle distance whilst standing perfectly still is maddening. Remember all performance is storytelling and to do that to the best capability a performer must find the truth of that situation.

Tips for auditionees:

Just be yourself, you are the best you there is and that is all we can ask of you. I like to see the audition as a workshop more than an audition, I just want to see how you work with other performers and how you use the different stimuli offered by the practitioners. We aren't there to trick you or trip you up or see what you can't do, we are there to see what you can do.

Why should people get involved with YMT?

I have been a practitioner with the company for eight years now and have worked on numerous productions with dozens of of professionals and 100s of young people. There really is no other experience like it, it is truly unique. To workshop and create a new piece of theatre is probably the most exhilarating and rewarding things you can do in this profession and YMT gives young people the opportunity to experience that. I have nothing against established pieces of musical theatre but to be able to develop new work with some of the best practitioners in the UK along with the stars of the future is brilliant.

Favourite show?

I think the production that has had the biggest influence on me would be Complicite's Mnemonic - it really showed me at a young age just what was possible on stage through the inventiveness of cast and creatives.

What/who should young people research in the arts?

I am a huge fan of anything Simon McBurney, artistic driector of Complicite, does, his constant thirst for the new is inspiring. I enjoy the work of Punchdrunk, Headlong, Gecko and Kneehigh - all Bristish companies who are taking their influences from further afield. I am a huge fan of the theatre director Ninagawa - his work has a beauty not often seen on the UK stage.

Playwrights to look at would be Shakespeare (of course), Chekhov, Peter Shaffer, Philip Ridley, Martin McDonagh and Jez Butterworth.


Favourite food?

Vegetarian sushi is probably top of my list but I also love tapas, Greek cuisine or Thai (all vegetarian options)

Ideal holiday? 

I find it hard to find time to go on holiday - the laptop is never too far away so I think it would have to be somewhere very remote so that there would be no wifi connection.

THE most important question: Scone (as in stone) or Scone (as in gone)?

Scone (gone) but would normally just order a black coffee.

Don't forget to meet the rest of the auditions team in our 'Meet the Auditions Team' series. And, of course, don't forget to book your audition!


Pete Gallagher - YMT's National Auditions 2016 - Youth Music Theatre UK

Meet the 2016 Auditions Team - Pete Gallagher


Actor, Director & Writer PETE GALLAGHER gives his thoughts on YMT's 2016 Auditions

Training: I trained at the Corona Academy of Theatre Arts in London (at the same time as Nicholas Lyndhurst while he was doing Butterflies and just before Only Fools and Horses...), which has sadly closed down now. I work mainly in the West End although I also tour and do TV & film when I can. Most of the time though, theatre commitments mean you can't do film & TV as they always overrun on a film set!

What are you looking for from auditionees?

In a word, BRAVERY. An audition is not the time to 'play safe' so listen, do what you have been asked to do, but be brave and bring your own personality to it. We are looking for people with potential, which means putting your stamp on it, not people who do the minimum required to get through it and hope that's enough!

Tips for auditionees:

Let us see YOU. If you're trained to any extent, obviously bring that technique but remember to add bags of personality. If you're completely untrained, be fearless - you are in a room with some who have trained in certain areas, so make sure you show what you can bring, however rough around the edges you might think that is - it may be exactly what we are looking for! If you have absolutely no experience of performing at all but just fancy giving it a go, give us a really good and positive reason to remember you...and it could well happen!

Why should people get involved with YMT?

Professionals! This is not an amateur theatre company run by people as a hobby - it is a theatre company run by very experienced performing professionals who just happen to want to focus their energies on finding young fresh Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith etc...all of whom took the gamble and joined us...and maybe like YOU! It is also the biggest and most successful theatre company of its kind in the UK so you know you are in safe hands.

Favourite Shows?

Play - Hamlet. The greatest example of ink ever placed on paper

Musical - Guy & Dolls. Perfect entertainment and example of how Musical Theatre uses the richness of colour and texture to enhance a plot.

Experience - Slava's Snow Show or Cirque du Soleil

YMT Show I have directed - Missing Mel. Relevant, fun and unbelievable energy. Transferred from Edinburgh Fringe to London!

What/who should young people research in the arts?

Southwark Playhouse - still affordable and sensational choice of productions.

Les Misérables - superb musical adaptation of an epic novel that they said would be impossible.

Alexandre Dumas, French dramatists and novelist - The Counte of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask etc. - pure adventure.

The Woman in Black - best adaptation of a book I have ever seen and brilliantly terrifying

Leonardo DiCaprio - a superbly talented film actor who is often underestimated because he happens to be a good looking man... I wish I had that problem! See: Romeo & Juliet, The Revenant, The Wolf of Wall Street, Catch Me If You Can, What's Eating Gilbert Grape...

Favourite Food:

Haloumi cheese or Vegetarian Thai. I'm dribbling now...

Ideal Holiday:

I'm not a 'beach bum' so anything that involves cities, culture, having my mind blown. Fave city so far - Barcelona with the Sagrada Familia. Wish List: India and the Taj Mahal.

THE most important question: Scone (as in stone) or Scone (as in gone)?

Scone... HAHA! (as in 'gone', obviously)

You can book your YMT Audition here. Don't miss out - places are filling fast.

Gemma Fairlie

Catfish! The Musical - By Sean Brooks


YMT's exciting new project!

Catfish: someone who pretends to be someone else online to create false identities, particularly to pursue online romances.

Catfish! The Musical is an extraordinary new show, directed by Gemma Fairlie and devised by the company, about WHY people lie and the allure of becoming a catfish. Funny and heartbreaking, it looks at the highs and lows of falling in love and finding out the truth behind the fantasy of online romance.

Here's what Gemma has to say about the project:

I saw the film and, like everybody else, got into heated debates about whether it was real or not but then I realised that there are more and more cases of it, so I started reading articles from the UK and the USA of people who had been both victims and catfish.

It struck me as very sad but also I could see the appeal - wanting to be someone else, being able to invent this dream persona for yourself that is everything you wish you could be. The internet provides us with the most amazing mask - even down to our day-to-day dealings on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat - we are constantly editing ourselves and manipulating our image for other's consumption. The best photos, the cleverest things we can think of to say, the funniest bits of our lives - we cannot accept our own failings and bad bits and actually recognise ourselves as full human beings - both the good and the bad. So we spend so long inventing an ideal us that we don't work on the actual us and try to become better people in reality.

Yet underneath all of that lying and insecurity is the basic human need to be loved - the girl who had fancied a boy from afar but thought he would never go for her so she invented this perfect girl for him to fall in love with. And he did fall for her because they actually had a lot in common but when he found out what she had done he could not forgive the betrayal. 

I can see why being a catfish could become compulsive, hiding away in a hard drive, being able to say all the things you are too scared to face to face. The internet becomes a shield, a protection, a stronghold. But what I want to know is how people get to that and whether we can do or act differently as a society to empower people not to feel they have to hide behind a computer screen. Or is this just how our future is going?

In terms of our piece I think the shows with the biggest impact make their point through comedy and pathos so I am very keen that this is funny as well as poignant. There is definitely an element of car crash television/ voyeurism to the subsequent Catfish series - we watch to see just how far these people have been duped and we somewhat revel in their idiocy to believe that the person they have been texting for months might not be who they said they were - having avoided meeting them in person.

I'm also interested in the fact that this is not gender biased. That catfish can be both male and female and can come from all backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. We all want to be loved yet we all want to be powerful but as most of them realise love is not about making the other person vulnerable.

Click here to read more about the project. Please call the Lyric Hammersmith box office to book your audition on 020 8741 6850.