Earlier this year, the University's Musical Theatre programme launched a competition to find exciting musical theatre projects which could be developed with second year students. The focus is on original British musical theatre scores rather than the 'jukebox' and American shows that make up a large part of the repertoire in the West End.
A total of 28 composers and writers submitted audio and video of projects for consideration by a panel of University staff and students. Four projects have been chosen to be the focus of three-week long workshops at the University over the coming year.
The first workshop in May 2017 focuses on a currently untitled new musical by Southampton-based composing team Alexander Clements and Stephanie Amies (www.amiesandclements.co.uk/
The initiative offers students studying on the University's Musical Theatre
course a unique opportunity to work closely with writers and gain first-hand experience of fleshing out characters and situations that have not yet been performed.
In turn, writers have an opportunity to hear how their words and music actually sound in a studio space and to see how characters develop during the course of a rehearsal period.
"The range of material entered for the competition was wide, and the standard extremely high, which meant we had a difficult task choosing just four projects for our workshops," said Millie Taylor, Professor of Musical Theatre at the University of Winchester and a musical director, musical theatre analyst and historian.
"For an actor, relationships with writers are crucial. The opportunity for our students to work with writers in this way boosts their CVs and future employability. This new writers' project is written into the course to give the students a wider sense of what they might encounter in the industry."
Students studying Musical Theatre at Winchester study the history, theory and practice of musical theatre, incorporating that into their study of voice, drama, physical skills and performance. They have the potential to pursue careers as musical theatre professionals, not just in performing, but also writing, creating and researching, or working with young people as a teacher or in community contexts; or working in production.
In October 2017, three more workshops will focus on Otherworld by Rachel Bellman and Elizabeth Charlesworth, The Jury by Ashley Walsh, and Wallpaper Girl by Susannah Pearse and Rebecca Applin.
Today's announcement follows a student workshop in October with award-winning writer, composer and lyricist Dougal Irvine of his new musical adaptation of Eric Idle'sThe Quite Remarkable Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat.
to read second year Musical Theatre student Joel Best's account of the workshop on the University of Winchester blog.