YMT blog

 
YMT present a rehearsed reading of A Teenage Opera with cast of Alumni

The show is A Teenage Opera and it has been nearly 50-years in the making

04/11/16

Last week was bursting with activity at Lyceum Theatre's Ambassador Lounge as YMT produced the first rehearsed reading of A Teenage Opera to an invited audience. This ground-breaking work began its life in Abbey Road Studios in 1967, when composer Mark Wirtz penned what was to become the first rock opera concept album.

YMT's Associate Producer, Matthew Johnson, talks to us about how it all went down

I packed the keyboard, music stands and amp into the back of an Uber. 
“Where are we going?” asked my driver.
“To the Lyceum Theatre!”

This had been our office for the last week as we prepared our rehearsed reading. Our 20-strong cast had been given only four days to get a brand new musical off the page and in front of an invited audience of producers, agents and friends. The show is A Teenage Opera and it has been nearly 50-years in the making.

Michael Bradley, fresh from dilivering the musical direction for The Busted Musical: What I Go To School For, took the mixed cast of YMT Alumni and young people through a speedy vocal warm-up. Meanwhile, Writer/Director, Pete Gallagher, made a few last-minute adaptations to his inspired new script. 

Barely a few months earlier, Pete had come to YMT with a vision for transforming the world’s first rock opera from a concept album to a fully-staged piece of music theatre ahead of its 50th Anniversary in 2017. Today, this new production was going to be heard for the first time.

YMT Alumni rehearsing A Teenage Opera

Standing quietly next to the action was the man himself, Mark Wirtz – creator and composer of A Teenage Opera at the Abbey Road Studios back in 1967. He and his wife, Amanda, had flown all the way over from Atlanta, USA, to assist the massive transition from album to performance.

It wasn’t too long before the room filled with anticipation from an excited audience. Mark was joined by Keith West and the ‘Corona Kids’ – a well-overdue reunion of the voices from the original album. The lights dimmed, music blared, and the story of Grocer Jack in A Teenage Opera finally began.

Composer Mark Wirtz with Keith West - A Teenage Opera presented by YMT

Youth Music Theatre UK - YMT - Ben Statham

A reflection on #YMT2016 by Jon Bromwich

07/09/16

YMT's 2016 Summer Season of New Music Theatre has now finished! Our Executive Producer, Jon Bromwich, reflects on the last few weeks.

I love the last bank holiday weekend of August: the culminating weekend of the YMT season. It’s a chance to look back on a wonderfully intense, inventive and imaginative collection of new music theatre. This year, down in Plymouth, there was a real Bank Holiday pearl in the form of The Legend of White Bear Lake, a beautifully lyrical work set in the forests of North America. Somehow it seemed fitting that the approach of the autumn, the new school term, would be marked by a work celebrating the seasons and the ever changing patterns of human and animal life.

The Legend of White Bear Lake - Gemma Ward

Before that we had some our best ever reviews for The Dark Tower at the Bussey Building in Peckham:

This is probably the biggest musical theatre event of the year…It is exhilarating. It is startling. It is also the boldest, most original score you will hear this summer, apart from Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s 1970, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. This incredibly wonderful work deserves the close admiration and encouragement of all arts organizations who want to support and be a part of the most exciting development in musical theatre in this country in years. We need to try and catch up with the awesome pace that YMT is setting. Read the full review. 

The Dark Tower - Leanne Dixon

That ‘awesome pace’ included the new Busted musical What I Go to School For at the Theatre Royal Brighton featuring some truly breathtaking performances – watch this space for the next generation of BRIT award and Olivier winners. The show is already optioned for professional development and we expect to see it on the West End stage at some point in the future...

In Trojan Women we tackled asylum stories, women escaping war and abuse, and took Theresa May to task for her attitudes to immigration. Also exploring serious matters, we looked at how female boxing can become an outlet and catharsis for the frustrations and energies of damaged youth in Fight Like A Girl - perhaps not the usual fare of musicals - but important nonetheless and an antidote to the vacuity of much commercial musical theatre. Fight Like A Girl, which was performed at the textile factory Sunny Bank Mills, also garnered five-star reviews

Fight Like A Girl - Ben Statham

In MAELSTROM we explored - through a devised rehearsal period - the deep bonds between Scottish and Norwegian legend and music while in The Frenzy of Sweeney we modernized an ancient Ulster legend transforming it into a drama on the streets of Belfast.

Every year we ask Trinity College London to assess our work under their Musical Theatre in Performance certification and this year was no exception to the rule that every YMT production received a Distinction at Grade 8 – the highest available before BA or Diploma qualifications. Indeed, one examiner commented that the production she saw displayed a group of mostly 14-19 year olds working at Diploma and Post graduate level. Most astonishingly, our production of The Great Gatsby received a remarkable score of 99/100 – just part of that ’awesome pace’ that the YMT Company is setting.

The Great Gatsby - Stuart Harrison

And the Trinity assessments are mirrored on our Summer Skills Courses where Distinctions at Grade 6 are the norm. Over 200 young people took these courses in 2016 and, along with our After School Clubs, it’s an area of growth and innovation for YMT.

Each year we ask 300 young people to set the bar high and achieve the (almost) impossible – the highest quality productions rehearsed in ten-hour days with a creative intensity unparalleled elsewhere in the world of theatre training. We ask our young people to take part in a process of making new theatre with the best practitioners in a way that no other organisation can match.

There are too many people, places and things to thank individually here but this summer we asked over 150 creative, technical and pastoral staff to join us and make the YMT 2016 Summer Season of New Music Theatre happen. Thanks to all of them and also to those who came to watch any part of our great creative festival. We are continually amazed by the support and dedication from parents, carers, teachers, families and friends and we are so grateful for all your efforts in making the summer possible. 

Thank you and we look forward to working with you all again next year! 

Jon Bromwich
Executive Producer

SOLT - Theatre Tokens

YMT and THEATRE TOKENS!

28/07/16

Theatre Tokens is the biggest national theatre gift voucher scheme – they’re the perfect present.

If you see an advert on our website for Theatre Tokens then go ahead and click it! Tokens can be used in over 240 venues and they have no expiry date (see, they’re perfect, right?). They’re also accepted all over the UK and can be redeemed in person, by phone or by post.

Make sure you’re on our mailing list for exclusive competitions to win Theatre Tokens and also keep your eye out for mini-competitions on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Click here (www.theatretokens.com) for more information on Theatre Tokens.

 

Gabriel Mokake - YMT Alumni

An interview with Gabriel Mokake

19/07/16

We chat to YMT Alumni Gabriel Mokake about his time with YMT. Gabriel has starred in The Color Purple, Dessa Rose and will soon be performing in Children of Eden and Dreamgirls.

Gabriel was part of the YMT Company from 2007-2009 performing in Rare Dreams (2007), Endangered (2008) and A Winter's Tale (2009).

I had an incredible time working on YMT projects. I was able to form a wonderful network of friends and whilst having the time of my life, building foundations to my theatre craft. Those summers taught me so much about working with others, and writing my own stuff and most importantly confidence, as a youngster in theatrical industry.

Do you still keep in contact with any YMTers?

Absolutely I made some incredible friends on these projects. And we all still keep in contact! I've worked professionally with some and even lived with some.

Why should people get involved with YMT?

Young people should consider joining YMT not only because can it build your confidence and professionalism. It can really help Influence your path into the industry whether it be performing, directing, writing, composing or choreographing YMT gives you a little taste of the Artistic World.

What would your dream role be?

I'm terrible with these sort of questions but I don't think it's been written yet... I would love to play great historical characters such as Frederick Douglass, Dr Martin Luther King Or Christopher Gardner.

(L-R) Sunny Moodie, Joshua Tonks, Jaygann Ayeh and Gabriel Mokake - Rare Dreams, 2007

Favourite Shows?

Another difficult question for Plays The Importance of Being Earnest and Musical The Color Purple.

http://micdotcom.tumblr.com/post/134892232783/watch-jennifer-hudsons-performance-from-the

Tips for auditions.

Be Positive. Smile. Do the research!

http://giphy.com/chuber

What/who should young people research in the arts?

Knee High, Punchdrunk and The National Theatre.

Favourite food?

Eastern Foods! Thai, Chinese and more.

Ideal holiday?

Maldives or Papa New Ginuea.

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

Both!

Read more interviews with YMT Alumni here on our blog!

YMT Alumni - Sarah Gannon - Youth Music Theatre UK

An interview with Sarah Gannon

24/06/16

We chat with YMT Alumni and actress Sarah Gannon about her time with YMT in The Chosen Room.

I had the most wonderfully independent time during my two summers with YMT. We were taught to perfect our performance technique but also how to conduct ourselves in a professional environment. By mixing ages, it integrated mutual respect between younger and older students. I also adored my time away from home. It was the best fun of my young years!

Do you still keep in contact with any YMTers?

Yes! She is still one of my closest friends.

Why should people get involved with YMT?

Because there is more to this business than just learning the songs or dance moves. And learning how to work with others away from home/stage school forces you to learn new life skills. Because of my YMT journey I feel I was capable/comfortable to accept professional touring roles late in life.

What would your dream role be?

I adore musicals and always will but if I had my way I would become a successful singer songwriter… However I would adore the opportunity to someday play the role of Cathy or Eponine.

Favourite Shows?

Les Misérables is the reason I started singing in the first place. But recently I went to see my friend play the lead in Kinky Boots. And I might be biased but woah!

Tips for auditions:

Thank the accompanist. Thank the casting assistant. Thank the person that gave you a bit of encouragement in the audition room. And most of all… sometimes you might not get the part because you messed up the note, sometimes it's because you're brunette or too tall. But not getting the part isn't the end of the world. Be happy you tried because unlike many hopefuls you were in the position to attend the audition and you were brave enough to do so!

What/who should young people research in the arts?

Try to build up a wonderful repertoire in your spare time. Follow Twitter sites of casting agents. But honestly there is no right way of working in this business. It just helps to be yourself and approach people personally after shows. Attend masterclasses when possible. Ask for advice … and when you win a Tony or Olivier … Keep asking for advice, because we're forever learning.

Favourite food?

Oooooh em, I love Cadbury's Golden Crisp and a cup of tea.

Ideal holiday?

Rome. Alway Rome. Go feed your belly and your soul! But I've been all over with tour that I'm raging I never got to Asia at all so I'd like to visit the elephants.

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

Eh obviously Scone as in Stone!

Read from YMT Alumni on our blog and check out how you can get involved with YMT.

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