YMT blog

Rachel Birch-Lawson - Youth Music Theatre UK

Meet the 2016 Auditions Team - Rachel Birch-Lawson


Choreographer and Dance Artist supremo RACHEL BIRCH-LAWSON talks about what she's looking for from our 2016 auditionees

Training: I trained at London Contemporary Dance School (The Place) and then on Dance Beyond Borders in Germany, Portugal, Belgium, and the UK. I’m freelance, so I work all over the place. A lot of my work is now based in Kent, but I tour nationally and have lived and worked across Europe and Africa.

What are you looking for from auditionees?

Willingness to have a go! I’m most interested in the energy and commitment you bring. It’s not about shapes and positions, but about intention and throwing yourself into the experience.

Tips for auditionees:

Work hard, but don’t take it too seriously - it’s a fun day and I always notice people who are enjoying themselves.


Why should people get involved with YMT?

It’s a unique opportunity to be part of making something special - and to come together with other young people with shared passions.

Favourite show?

It changes all the time. One of the best pieces I’ve seen recently was Peeping Tom’s 32 rue Vandenbranden. I also loved Slava’s Snow Show for its epic special effects!

What/who should young people research in the arts?

Try everything, see as much as you can! Don’t stick to one genre or only watch shows you know you will enjoy - try things that you’re not certain about. You might learn something new!

Favourite food?

Avocado. Also olives.

Ideal holiday?

Something with adventure - maybe learning to kite surf somewhere with warm water.


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


Have a read of our other 'Meet the Auditions Team' profiles! Don't forget to book your audition too!

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 talent...like 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.

Richard Healey Photos

Meet the 2016 Auditions Team - Richard Healey


Musical Director Richard Healey chats about YMT's 2016 National Auditions

Richard Healey is an MD, Composer, Arranger, Vocal Tutor and Music Supervisor-extraordinaire! He's been involved with YMT for many years and we're thrilled to have him on our 2016 National Auditions tour! 

Training: Southampton University (BA Music), Trinity Guildhall (Voice), Bournemouth University (MA Multimedia Design for Film & TV), Cambridge University (PGCE Music)

What tips do you have for auditionees?

Be yourself. You are unique. Show us your passion for what you do & leave your inhibitions behind. Everyone is equal & nobody is being compared - we are simply looking to reward your strengths, not uncover your weaknesses.

Why should people get involved with YMT?

Get involved to learn, to grow, to laugh, to cry, to sing, to move, to act, to be humbled, to inspire, to create, to be challenged, to feel empowered, to be different... Oh & to eat biscuits. Lots of biscuits.

What is your favouite show?

Difficult question... So many different shows for so many different occasions. But three very contrasting shows that had a massive impact on my teenage self were, in no particular order, Showboat,  Barnum and Into The Woods.


What/who should young people research in the arts?

Plough your own furrow. It's not wrong to like classics, or populist shows/individuals but find your own reasons for loving them, not other people's. Similarly challenge yourself. Rather than seeing the same show for the third time, see the one you know nothing about.

Favourite food?

Roast Lamb. Or Bakewell Tart. Or sometimes Sushi. Or fresh peas & butter. Wait no, avocado & poached eggs. Actually, just butter. Although I couldn't live without bacon. No, dark chocolate. Wait, chilli & basil ice cream. Or chorizo. With squid. And pan-fried cod loin. Hang on, spinach. Although freshly baked bread can't be beaten. Dammit, why is there so much nice food?!


Ideal holiday?

Skiing or Disney. Wait - skiing IN Disney. Result.


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

Scone (stone). Obviously. I'm from the Northwest. Scone (gone) is simply blasphemous.

Don't forget to book your YMT Audition (and remember to bring Richard some roast lamb... or peas... or maybe just butter...). BOOK NOW!

YMT National Auditions 2016 - Youth Music Theatre UK

YMT National Auditions 2016


Join the YMT 2016 Company - the adventure starts here...

YMT will be back on the road at the end of this month until February 2016 in the UK's largest search for young talent! We're holding 29 Auditions in 25 venues across the UK and Ireland, from Inverness to Plymouth, Derry to Colchester and all that's in between. AND Busted star James Bourne and Olivier nominee Elliot Davis will be at our first audition in London on Saturday 28 November! BOOK HERE.

We are looking for actors, singers and dancers as well as musicians to join the YMT 2016 Company and star in one of eight brand new musicals next summer including: What I Go To School For - the Busted musical at the Theatre Royal Brighton written by James Bourne and Elliot Davis. What I Go To School For marks the third project between Bourne, Davis and YMT after the Olivier Award-nominated Loserville the Musical and Out There (recently seen at the Tristan Bates Theatre London).

James Bourne - YMT Auditions - Youth Music Theatre UK - Year 3000 the Busted Musical

Other shows in YMT's 2016 Summer Season include a dazzling musical adaptation of The Great Gatsby, a women's boxing epic Fight Like a Girl, an Irish Warrior tale The Frenzy of Sweeney (Buile Shuibhne) at the Lyric Theatre Belfast, a contemporary dance opera The Dark Tower, an ancient Greek adventure Trojan Women! plus devised work in Plymouth and Aberdeen.

Performer Auditions are three-hour group workshops led by a professional director, choreographer and musical director (this year's team: Pete Gallagher, Stuart Harvey, Rachel Birch-Lawson, Vincent Manna, Sonum Batra and Richard Healey). Auditions are open to absolutely anyone aged 11-21 and no previous experience is necessary PLUS you don't even have to prepare anything - just bring yourself along!

Musician Auditions are slightly different - we're looking for musicians aged 11-21 who play ANY instrument at a Grade 7 standard. You'll need to prepare two contrasting pieces that last no longer than two minutes and the MD will then have a chat about your musical interests.

Performer Auditions can be booked online, over the phone or by post. Musician Auditions can only be booked over the phone - please call Richard Cross on 020 8563 7725.

Our 2016 Auditions Locations: Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Colchester, Derry/Londonderry, Dublin, Edinburgh, Hull, Inverness, Leeds, Leicester, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Oxford, Plymouth, Sheffield, Shrewsbury, Southampton and Stockton.

What are you waiting for? Book NOW!



Ellis Kerkhoven - Youth Music Theatre UK

Ellis Kerkhoven and The Midnight Flower Press


Let the fun begin...

The countdown has begun. I'm joining forces with an uber-talented creative team and the fantastic young artists at YMT to play, devise and create a brand new musical - The Midnight Flower Press - I can’t wait. This year the show will and be centred around a starter-script and storyline that I’ve written. The idea comes from a young adult novel I’m planning to write next year and offers lots of opportunity for devised work to develop characters, create dynamic visuals and flesh out the drama. I always love getting stuck-in generating additional material with everyone. Mostly I’m looking forward to working with the positive, energetic creativity that ymtuk actors always have.

What influenced the show and what makes it unique?

When I was looking for show stimuli a few months ago I stumbled across the amazing novel Millions by Frank Cotrell Boyce, which has a lot of money it in. This inspired the idea of using loads of paper in a show and led me to the idea of writing a show based around a printing press. Since then the story has developed into being set in a cotton factory and so the use of cotton in both raw and twine form has been added, making it very exciting. In a nutshell we’ll be let loose in a rehearsal room with immense amounts of paper, stuffing and string! What more could an actor want, eh…?

What can audiences expect?

Set in London during the Industrial Revolution, the show follows the dramatic underworld adventure of cotton-factory worker Flora and her Flower Press gang. In a time when child labour and exploitation was common place, and having a voice was dangerous, the young workers stumble across a secret way to get their voice heard, make a difference - and make mischief along the way! Audiences can expect quite a physical production, with great songs, drama and maybe even object manipulation and puppetry.

What are your favourite musicals, plays and artists?

Ooo this is always a tough question - there are so many to choose from. I love the musicals Miss Saigon, WhisperHouse and Little Shop of Horrors for their high stakes and unique styles. Favourite actors include Imelda Staunton, Ian McKellen, Ben Wishaw and Shailene Woodley - each of them give such strong performances whilst staying true to the truthfulness of their character’s situation.

I think my favourite plays include the recent National Theatre of Scotland production of Let The Right One In. It was physical, dramatic and scary (vampires!). Curious Incident is also a great production and Complicite’s early show Out Of A House Walked a Man is a total favourite of mine. The cast used instruments, puppetry, physical theatre, song, loads of different languages and followed a simple but exciting storyline. I’m hoping The Midnight Flower Press is going to be as exciting!

Describe the show in 3 words

Paper. Fluff. Mischief!

The Midnight Flower Press is showing at the Barbican Theatre Plymouth from 14-15 August. Book your tickets here.