Surely there must be an easier way to get onto the West End stage than putting yourself through three years of drama school training and getting an agent? If that Keira Knightley and H from Steps can get into a West End show, how hard can it be? The theatre world is all about connections and who can give you a leg up. Impress a casting director on one audition and although you may not be right for that role, they may refer a stumped colleague to you six months down the line who is struggling to track the right person for a role.
Much like big blockbuster films theatre productions need to make a return on their money in order to be viable. Big scale West End musicals need to be running with almost packed houses for a good eighteen months before they start to cover their initial costs. Smaller plays have less overheads of course but a smaller profit margin means that theatre actors get paid only a fraction of what their tv or movie counterparts are getting. This is why you will often see a famous face headlining a show in order to pull the punters in, irrespective of whether they are 100% the best choice for the role.
Starting from the bottom and working upwards into those lead roles and bigger productions can be a hard slog. Graduating from a top drama school such as RADA, LAMDA or Guildhall is likely to get you a better foot up to begin with. If you are just starting out it is worth trying to get into a drama school, particularly those in London, as you will have a more prominent platform with your final public shows or agent showcase to attract a better agent. Once you've landed one of those they will be able to do much of the footwork and open doors you may not have had access to otherwise. The acting profession is hugely oversaturated however so even landing a great agent may not be enough.
Determination and luck are just as important as raw talent in this industry. Slowly start to add credits to your cv, work hard at improving your craft and if you are one of the lucky ones, when a golden opportunity comes along to take you to the next level you will be better prepared for it. Being in London itself will be a big plus as travel expenses will soon rack up. Some theatres, particularly with musicals showing, still do open auditions for those with experience. One way to learn about these is to check with the larger theatres directly. Check with the stage doors of theatres to find out if any open castings are coming up for the longrunning musicals if you have a musical background. It's always a good idea to have a few copies of your cv with you along with some good ten by eight photos, just in case you are in the right place at the right time.
Even better is scouring theatre trade newspapers such as The Stage for auditions and similar opportunities. This can be laborious and feel somewhat soul destroying but those who are determined enough will seize upon any crumb of opportunity they find and try and turn it in to something. Keep your ear to the ground too. The more you socialise in theatre circles the more you will pick up information about auditions that are going on, as well tips from others in your field. Once you do get onto the ladder remember that your reputation will take you to the next level. Everyone talks about everyone in Theatreland, so if you start acting like Mariah when you're still only Marie word will soon get around. No theatre companies want to work with someone who they have heard has a poor attitude or is unprofessional, they need a team player.
Be patient and don't get put off if things seem to be happening quickly for those around you. You have to believe that your time will come if you put in the work and keep the faith. It may not be easy to track down London theatre auditions
, but they are out there. Once you've got one its down to just one person whether that audition leads to a role. And after all, you're the next big thing aren't you?