On Saturday 27th July rehearsals for Easy Stages 2013 West Side Story began. 75 International Stagecoach students were excited and eager to find out the amazing experience that laid ahead. The first two days began with an audition process and multiple character workshops, to decide the principle roles of this year's cast.
On the second day we had a surprise guest visit from Paul Manuel, former West End Tony and son of the founder of stagecoach, Stephanie Manuel. He gave all the boys a master class giving techniques to use and plenty of advice. Jamie, 17 is from Stagecoach Solihull and is playing A-Rab. He said "the workshops were really helpful, he helped us get into the roles of the Jets by working on accents, relationships, and their individual characters".
After the cast was announced we spent a lot of the first week looking closely at our characters and developed relationships between them, which is a huge part to the ultimate success of this production. In the space of two days we mastered one of musical theatre's most iconic numbers 'America', which is an uplifting and sassy number in the heart-breaking musical.
This year we have 60 residential students staying at St Mary's University in Twickenham. This means living away from home for three weeks with other members of the cast. At first it can be quite scary living with people you don't know, but we are all here for the same reason, our passion for performing. By the end of the first week we were all really good friends and already an Easy Stages family. I have spoken to several members of the cast and asked them several questions about their time so far at Easy Stages. Alexia, 9, from Portland Oregon said "so far Easy Stages has been a really great experience. I have learnt so many techniques and made lots of new friends. I have seen other shows and it is amazing being a character on stage. Being part of Easy Stages makes my passion for performing and especially singing more and more each day".
Matt, 17, from Bridgend and Cowbridge, is playing the lead role, Tony. "It's fantastic working with an amazing team and cast in which I have known some of them for many years and it's nice to work so closely with them. I have seen the show in a new emotional light, working so closely with these emotions was my challenge. I have loved every minute so far and have learnt so much from this experience. I'm really looking forward to bringing the show alive in the theatre".
As a result of our hard work, determination and the inspiring production team, we managed to put such a difficult show together in under two weeks. We are all really excited to put this show onto the stage and show the public how hard we have worked.
Annie - Stagecoach Milton Keynes Student.