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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.

Charlotte Conquest - Not the End of the World - Youth Music Theatre UK - EdFringe

Do we really know what happened on Noah's Ark?


Director Charlotte Conquest tells us about our Edinburgh Fringe spectacular NOT THE END OF THE WORLD

Not the End of the World is a new musical based on the award-winning book by Geraldine McCaughrean, and her re-imagining of events on Noah's Ark.

When I first read Geraldine's book, I became immediately hooked. Every turn of the page leads further into the dark, twisted intensity of what life might have felt like trapped on a vast boat lost in a world of water. This alternative take of the iconic traditional Noah story challenges stereotypical Sunday School assumptions that life on the Ark was happy. The twists and turns of the plot surprises and appalls at every turn. The more I read, the more I wanted to put this on the stage.

Think of William Golding's Lord of the Flies, where arrogant and violent leaders emerge when put in extreme situations. Or of Arthur Miller's The Crucible where everything and everyone belongs to either God or the devil; dissent is associated with satanic activity and hysteria thrives because those in power benefit from it. As in Jeannette Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, the story is told through the eyes of a girl growing up surrounded by belief.

Our protagonist, Timna, is on the cusp of challenging the preached beliefs fed to her as she learns to face the world with new wisdoms and insights. By introducing a fictitious daughter living within the traditional biblical world of Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, Timna emerges as a figure contesting biblical narrators. She says early on that her story is bound not to get told as women's lives are mostly written out of history. She stands for new order in the new world the stranded family are seeking. Her growing confidence with independent thought and questioning is constantly knocked down and denied as the voice from the top becomes increasingly controlled by the blind, inhumane fundamentalism. Every hateful belief survives under a cover of righteousness and can find validation in writings that claim to be authored by God. Timna has to learn to adapt quickly and control anarchic thoughts from spilling out. Her very survival is at risk. And on top of all that she has to hide two young survivors of the flood, a boy and his baby sister, stowed away in the bowels of the ship. Our stage version matches this edge-of-the-seat-storytelling. 

Our Noah family, helpless and starving, are lost in a cruel flood, aboard an ark that is packed with ferocious animals. Danger lurks round every corner. The show connects powerful imagery from the original story into a visual and physical feast, using ensemble, song and movement sequences to create the world aboard a decaying ark. Using Ryan Dawson Laight's brilliant set, puppets and symbolic props, and working with Stuart Winter's heart-stopping choreography, the talented cast create an atmospheric, tumultuous journey that carries the audience through the flood, inch by inch. Sonum Batra's complex, original score breathes a vocal life in to the story, carried along by Dave Francis' witty yet conversely heart-wrenching lyrics. 

The show is unique because it asks questions of the original story that may not have thought about before: what happens to the neighbours left behind once the flood hits? How could Noah be so sure of his mission? What would the world feel like if women were driving it? 

If I had to describe the show in 3 words I would say: immersive, anarchic and challenging. As book reviewer Phil Groom says, 'If there's a Noah's Ark sailing around the world today, I dare suggest that its religion, like McCaughrean's Ark, is full of leaks. Beliefs are tossed about in the storms, and some people on board are so obsessed with their own purity that they'll push other survivors away to drown. But also on board there are those who won't stand by and watch, who are throwing out lifelines to the drowning. It's not the end of the world and you can't afford to ignore this story'.

Not the End of the World - Edinburgh Fringe - Youth Music Theatre UK - New Town Theatre

Not the End of the World is playing at the New Town Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 6-16 August at 3pm. Book tickets here.

Rachel Birch-Lawson - Sweat Factory - Sadler's Wells - Youth Music Theatre UK

What is SWEAT FACTORY? by Rachel Birch-Lawson


Choreographer and Dance Artist Rachel Birch-Lawson writes about her bold project SWEAT FACTORY.

Sweat Factory is a culmination of lots of different ideas and influences. Years ago I was working in a dance studio and the owner described how when she bought it, it had been a disused sweatshop. She described the space ‘lined with trestle tables, a forest of cables hanging low from the ceiling’, and I thought - there’s a piece in there. Having kept the idea in my pocket for a long time, it’s really exciting to have the chance to finally bring it to life.

The fact that so much of our clothing is still made by workers in sweatshops working in unsafe and unjust conditions is obviously a huge concern, and through this show we want to raise awareness of this issue. However, there are lots of other things at stake too: the choices we make, what we stand for, and how far we’re prepared to go to defend our beliefs are the major themes of the show. I also want to challenge perceptions of dance, what it can be and what it can say; and, very importantly, I want to challenge stereotypes of young women, showing that these girls can be strong, powerful, and physically virtuosic.

In the end, the show has been developed as a collaboration between the whole creative team, the cast of 2014’s Dance Connection, and this new cast for Sweat Factory who will have lots of creative input!

Unintentionally, we’ve ended up creating a new genre with this piece - a ‘contemporary dance opera’! Having the whole cast dance AND sing simultaneously for the whole 70 minutes seemed perfectly natural to me, and its only once I began talking to other people that I discovered its actually not. It’s a huge challenge for the cast, a piece that requires incredible performers and a lot of stamina. But the overall effect is stunning: pure, visceral action communicated from the heart.

Coming from a contemporary dance background, my idols are choreographers like Pina Bausch, Elizabeth Streb, who combines stunt work and dance, and companies like Ballet C de la B and Ultima Vez. However, moving to work in theatre, opera, and music theatre has opened my eyes to so many new techniques and ways of working, and now my passion is to try and bring those different worlds together.

Describing the show in just a few words, I would say it is visceral, engaging, and heartfelt. It’s going to be a great show!

Sweat Factory Sadler's Wells Youth Music Theatre UK

Sweat Factory is being performed at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler's Wells, 31 July - 1 August as part of YMT's 2015 Summer Season of New Music Theatre. Tickets here.

Andrew Doyle - Gulliver's Travels Lyric Theatre Belfast - Youth Music Theatre UK

Q&A with Andrew Doyle


Stand-up comedian Andrew Doyle chats with us about YMT's upcoming spectacular GULLIVER'S TRAVELS at the Lyric Belfast.

What can audiences expect from the show?

Most people’s expectations of Gulliver’s Travels are based on the abridged version we all read at school, or the various adaptations we’ve seen over the years. The focus always seems to be on Lilliput and Brobdingnag, where Gulliver encounters a race of tiny people and a race of giants respectively. But there are plenty of other islands he visits on his various voyages, which I was keen to represent. My favourite is Laputa, the flying island.

Why is this show unique?

Duke Special’s music for this show is really exciting. There’s always been a theatricality to his work, and the genre just seems so natural for him. Then there’s Swift’s story itself, which is endlessly surprising. It’s exactly the kind of show I’d want to see. But I would say that, wouldn’t I?

What are your influences for this show?

That’s a tricky question. I usually only ever become conscious of influences after the thing is written. But thinking about it, I can see elements of Mervyn Peake in the more fantastical moments, particularly in the way I’ve tried to combine darkness with comedy. There are also a number of Shakespearean allusions in the piece - I hate talking about my own writing, though;  I end up sounding really self-important. So thanks for that.

Can you describe the show in three words?

No. And if I could it wouldn’t be worth seeing.

What are your favourite musicals?

I really love Satyagraha, Philip Glass’s minimalist opera about Mahatma Gandhi. Does that count? My favourite musical is probably Little Shop of Horrors, mostly because it manages to be heartfelt without falling into the trap of sentimentality. And any show in which the protagonists are eaten is bound to be a success.

Gulliver's Travels Lyric Belfast Youth Music Theatre UK

Gulliver's Travels is being performed at the Lyric Theatre Belfast, 30 July - 1 August as part of YMT's 2015 Summer Season of New Music Theatre. Tickets here.