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Find out more about our CYC Musicals leader Stuart Piper below!
Tell us something about you and your practice
In my career I have been an Actor/performer, director, producer and theatrical agent. And it all began with Youth Theatre: in my case the National Youth Music Theatre. I didn’t mind school – but it was Youth Theatre where I connected with likeminded people- where differences were accepted, and lifelong friendship bonds were formed. I’ve been lucky enough to train and work with some of the most talented practioners in the world, and there is nothing more rewarding than passing on what I’ve learnt and helping inspire budding artists like I was inspired.
What can people expect working on the productions this term?
Our House I believe is one of the best musicals ever written based on a jukebox catalogue of pre-existing songs. I was very lucky in my youth as an 18-year-old actor to be part of the team in the original workshops that helped writer Tim Firth and director Matthew Warchus develop the piece – and when I saw the eventual result on stage in the West End I was amazed by the results. Into The Woods is to Sondheim what A Midsummer Night’s Dream is to Shakespeare – a great entry piece into understanding and enjoying the joys of Stephen Sondheim’s work – one of the greatest living musical theatre composers. I want to try and strive to create something special, and ambitious – but it’s also important to me that we have FUN along the way.
What are you looking for from your students?
I’m looking for open minds, willingness to learn, and to take risks. There is a saying: a comfort zone is a wonderful thing – but nothing ever grows in it. Let’s try and do things we’ve never done before, together, to tell our audience two important stories.
What is the best thing about working in Musical Theatre?
In musicals, a character should sing, because their thought or emotion cannot be adequately expressed in text but requires song. For me, my favourite thing about working in musicals is making an audience laugh, moving them, or educating them/making them think about things in a new way. My favourite things about teaching musical theatre is watching someone’s confidence grow and seeing them experience the thrill of performance.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever done?
Professionally as an Agent running one of London’s premier talent management companies for over a decade, I helped mentor many graduates to get from absolute starting position to roles like Elphaba in Wicked, Valjean in Les Misérables and Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, via some of the biggest award wins the industry has to offer and I’m very proud of those achievements. But I’ve also helped mentor lots of artists through the tough times – helping them overcome adversity and disappointment. I hope during this Youth Theatre experience I can share some of what I’ve learnt about the realities of the industry, as well as it undoubtable joys – I am a wholeheartedly enthusiastic and optimistic advocate of spending life in musical theatre!
What’s your favourite joke?
How many actors does it take to change a lightbulb? 100. 1 to change it and 99 to say how they could’ve done it that little bit better!
May I finally say how much I am looking forward to meeting all of the individuals who are going to make up the family of performers that will tackle this World Class Youth Theatre Company’s next two offerings.