Tag Archives: BA Musical Theatre

NEWS: Musical theatre student at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland shares new song and video about the pandemic-hit performing arts industry.

A musical theatre student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has penned a new song about his passion for performing and how it feels to be part of the performing arts industry through a global pandemic.

What If I Told You was written by second-year student Harry Gascoigne in response to the challenges facing the theatre sector. It expresses the frustration of a ‘lost’ year of opportunities and the emotion of seeing dreams being put on hold before professional lives have even begun. There’s a note of hope too, conveying the dedication of young artists for whom the performing arts are a fundamental part of who they are.

Together with his year group on the BA Musical Theatre degree at Scotland’s national conservatoire, Harry recorded the song and accompanying video that’s shared for the first time today.

What if I told you,

That you couldn’t do what you wanted after years of waiting?

After years of training.

And what if I told you,

That you couldn’t be who you wanted after years of dreaming?

’Cause that’s how it’s seeming.

You tell us to adapt, you tell us to rethink our lives.

But not just for us, for you, arts need to survive.

So, where’s the compromise?

Because art is a fundamental part of our lives,

And the arts will survive and will continue to thrive.

View the video on YouTube

Harry said: “I wrote What If I Told You about the crisis in the performing arts industry when it felt that there was no support from the UK government or reopening dates in sight. Now, it feels like there’s light at the end of the tunnel. As the artists of the future, we stand together as we move into a new era of theatre.”

After writing What If I Told You on his piano at home, Harry shared the track with Emily Reutlinger, Head of the three-year BA Musical Theatre degree programme at RCS.

“Emily said it would be great to get the rest of the year group involved to record the song,” said Harry. “Everyone was up for it so I worked with my classmate Molly Stirrat, to pull it together.”

Emily Reutlinger, Head of BA Musical Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Harry has written a beautiful and meaningful song that captures the emotion of the last year for performing artists, who had to watch from the wings as theatres fell dark, with so much uncertainty surrounding their futures. What If I Told You is a rallying cry to the industry, a reminder that the arts will survive to see us through the darkest of times, and that these vibrant young artists are still here, still creating and producing work, and are ready to make their mark on the world.”

The second-year Musical Theatre cohort rehearsed and recorded What If I Told You under strict Covid guidelines at RCS: “There was a great atmosphere in the rehearsal room and it was such a special experience to come together,” said Harry, a songwriter and composer who also plays the saxophone, flute and guitar.

“Lots of students played instruments on the track. That’s one of the unique things about the Musical Theatre programme at RCS, that actor-musician element.”

Harry’s classmate, Molly Stirrat, who arranged and edited the music, said: “I’ve always been interested in composing and producing music. Harry and I wanted to incorporate as many people as we could so I decided to write parts for other students and their instruments. It was nice to see what first started as a basic backing track of drums, bass and keys become something more with the involvement of our amazing classmates who play instruments including viola, violin, cello, flute, sax, guitar, trumpet and banjo.

“It was a very enjoyable, new learning experience. From the first draft to the final production, a lot of hard work from both myself, Harry and all the other fantastic artists went into this and we’re very excited to share it with everyone.”

What If I Told You encapsulates the ethos of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s #WeAreStillHere scholarship campaign that aims to ensure the next generation of artists can follow their dreams at one of the world’s top three destinations to study the performing arts (QS World University Rankings 2021). The campaign is backed by Hollywood and West End actor James McAvoy – a BA Acting graduate – who narrates a short film that captures the creativity, resilience and dedication of students, staff and alumni throughout the pandemic. It voices an urgent call to support their future and that of the arts through scholarship.

REVIEW: London Road- Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Chandler Studio Theatre, Glasgow

That anyone thought that a musical about the serial murders of five sex workers in sleepy Ipswich in 2006 would be suitable source material for a musical, might rightfully have been called utterly misguided – thoroughly insensitive, in fact, but that’s the premise for Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork’s London Road.

Delivered verbatim style, the lyrics are culled from interviews that creator Alecky Blythe conducted with the real inhabitants of London Road. The musical a reflection of how the residents, sex workers and media dealt with the terrifying and sensational events unfolding around them.

This work defies every preconception you might have about it. It is thoughtful, intelligent and utterly compelling and there’s not a whiff of exploitation or sensationalism throughout (neither the killer, Steve Wright (dubbed the Suffolk Strangler) nor his victims appear (save for a ‘blanket over the head’ moment when Wright is rushed to the courthouse). Each group involved are given their voice, no matter how unpalatable or un-PC it might be. The honesty and raw truth of it all is what sets it above its contemporaries. The plaudits the work received on its debut at the National Theatre, utterly deserved.

The work is in the safe hands of the 3rd year BA Musical Theatre students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, under the direction of Philip Howard, and their quality and commitment to the work, make it unmissable. The large ensemble cast is faultless. The set design from Meghan Grieve, suitably dark and atmospheric, with an abundance of beautifully realised tiny details, the choreography by EJ Boyle is innovative and eye-catching. The only gripe would be the ear-splittingly loud band which overpowers the vocals and drowns out the lyrics at times.

This is a work of the utmost quality and a refreshing change to the lightweight musical theatre fluff that abounds – tickets are like gold dust, but if you can secure one – you won’t regret it.

Runs until 1 December 2017

REVIEW: The Boys in the Photograph – Cottiers Kelvinbridge, Glasgow

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The Boys in the Photograph is a reworking of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton musical The Beautiful Game,set in the troubled Northern Ireland of 1969. The musical is the story of ordinary people in an extraordinary situation and follows the fortunes of a group of teenagers, all members of a local football team, and their friends.

Under the watchful eye of team coach Father O’Donnell, John and Del both show enough promise to pursue careers as professional footballers. When they find love they become swept up in the events that engulf their community and, as time passes, each has to decide whether or not to follow their hearts.

A show about the northern Irish troubles isn’t the likely choice for a musical, nor a typical subject for your average evening’s entertainment but that is exactly what The Boys in the Photograph is – and boy does it pack an emotional punch.

Unlike its short-lived existence on the West End stage, this production, here in Glasgow by Motherwell College’s BA(Hons) Musical Theatre graduating class, has found a home and an audience with whom its themes of sectarianism and bigotry still resonate.

This is a clever choice of material to showcase the talents of the actors, avoiding the well-worn classic fare as well as the recent preponderance of Stephen Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown productions, allowing as it does the opportunity for powerful and highly emotive acting as well as strong vocal skills. Packed with memorable and vibrant songs from heart-rending ballads to stirring Irish anthems, it would be a hard heart indeed who failed to be moved this piece.

The show benefits from a strong ensemble that deserves credit for effectively supporting the central cast. In the pivotal role of John Kelly, Martin Murphy not only delivers a perfectly judged performance of powerful emotion but also demonstrates fine vocal talent. As Mary, Fiona Harris subtly travels the path from spirited anti-violence protestor to dispirited wife and Bobby Weston turns in a highly-charged performance as Thomas, the classic angry young man blinded by a cause. Credit must also go to Steven Dalziel who deftly handles the only moments of comic relief as the tragic Ginger and the strong-voiced Gill Beattie as Christine.

The spare staging and costume design, also deserve mention, allowing the focus to be firmly on the cast, yet perfectly conveying a sense of place and time. 

I can’t overstate how powerfully this material speaks to its audience or the quality of this cast – the audience remained transfixed from start to finish. This is an arresting tale, expertly realised and richly deserving acclaim – leaving a lasting impression long after the final note has rung out. Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of this musical or this fine cast.