Submitted by: Musicline School Musicals
1: A Nativity for a Non-Native.
My name is Victor Coupe and I m a half-Venezuelan, half-British atheist, brought up by incredibly liberal and loving parents. When I first came to the UK as a six-year-old, I knew embarrassingly little about British Christian culture. I arrived in September 1999, and a few months later, I was to witness my first nativity.
In my early childhood I d always loved performing, although up until I first arrived in England these mainly came in the form of show and tell type things and, as my mum will painfully never let me forget, dancing naked in front of small crowds on beaches. Whilst Venezuela is a strongly Catholic country and around Christmas it s not uncommon for people to have miniature mangers [pictured] in their houses, the idea of a performed Christmas nativity was alien to me. I actually still remember my first one, it was a musical performed across the road at the local infant school, and my sister was an angel (how times change!)
I remember sitting on the floor of the infant school hall, watching as the colourful cast of characters from Christian folklore came to life. I remember loving the colours of the shepherds, and the big outfits of the three wise men. I also remember Joseph falling over, crying, and recovering enough to whimper his all-important lines, as well as the little boy who was playing a wise man pulling down his big hat over his face to hide him from the audience. But even these little inevitable performance glitches were charming and all part of the experience.
I loved it, and I needed to be part of it.
2: Grandpa s boredom and the Good Guy Rat .
As a kid, I loved drama and regularly performed as part of an after-school youth theatre group. In the run up to Christmas of around 2002, I was ten years old, and eager for my first big role. The play that was being put on was a version of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, written by the man who ran my after-school club, and whilst the music was pleasant and I even got a dramatic death, it wasn t amazingly professional.
The plot of this Pied Piper tale involved a character called Tiny Tim , as well as a good rats who fight the evil rats before the pied piper arrives at the town. Sound ludicrous? You re not the only one who thought so. I did actually find a more traditional and professional version of this play recently, which I really wish I had performed instead!
Children s Christmas musicals come in many forms, and it must be said that my grandpa was always supportive of my acting talent, and thereby has probably seen more scenes of shoddy child acting than even the casting crew for the first Harry Potter movie.
Tiny Tim was delivering a speech about how sad he was about the rats, when I heard a familiar noise reverberate around the room. It only lasted a couple of seconds, but it was incredibly loud, and cut through the action like a knife.
Before my gran could give him a disciplining slap, my granddad s snore rumbled the theatre. Woops!
3: Phileas Fogg in Around the Script in 8 Days.
People sometimes talk about theatre in terms of transferable skills. The ones that are often cited are confidence, social skills and team work, but when I was at the end of my primary school career I learned a new one.
It was early in 2003, and I auditioned for a part in my school s production of Jules Verne s Around the World in 80 Days. When I landed the lead role of Phileas Fogg I was ecstatic, and couldn t wait until I started learning the songs. I was ten years old, so with four years of experience I felt like I was a pro when it came to children s musicals. I was at near end of my primary school career, and I had the arrogance of the biggest year group in school.
However, I was struggling with a duet that I had to do with a girl who was to be my romantic interest. I didn t struggle with feigning attraction (I was a professional by this point remember), but I found it hard to distinguish between vocal melody and harmony.
I ve always had quite a bad memory, and because I had the most lines, I always requested that I have my script on me at all times in rehearsals. About a week before the first matinee performance, I realised that I knew none of the words.
What followed was an intense week of me going through every scene, every line, every moment until I went on stage a week later and gave the performance of my life; it was the first time I had crammed, and the skills I learned then haven t failed me since.
4: Romantic Prop Sabotage and a Speechless Headmaster.
For the first few years of secondary school, I performed as part of a youth theatre group outside of school, and when I was thirteen I was in a version of the Dickens classic David Copperfield. I played the role of the headmaster, responsible for putting on the gruffest voice a pre-pubescent boy can affect, and disciplining a group of kids my age or older.
Musicals for kids are a great chance for youths to socialise and create friendships, and for me some of these have lasted to this very day. Thespians are also known for their open approach to love, and even as a child it s no different.
She was a pretty blonde girl and everyone knew I had a crush on her. Her name was Felicity Dunn, and she was playing part of the chorus, as well as one of my students. I loved rehearsal times, because I had a pretext in which I could talk to her, and as I had just found myself at an all-boys grammar school, this was a huge deal.
It was the second night of our run when I opened the register, and at the top of the list of names someone had scribbled a question.
Hey its Felicity will you go out with me?
I was stunned. Nothing in my professional career could have prepared me for this. I looked down, and I saw a little blonde girl grinning from ear to ear. I blinked, cleared my throat, and just about managed to recover, and when I left the stage at the end of the act we laughed so hard my mum said you could hear it over the sound of the applause
About the Author: By Victor Coupe – Musicline School Musicals