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Greetings.

A new chapter.

It was only in the theatre that I lived.

— Oscar Wilde.

Welcome to my new blog. My name is Ben, I am 15, and I live in Edinburgh. I have a keen interest in musical theatre and performing arts and I will be writing about my experience with professional productions, am-dram, school performances and any other form of theatre.

I first gained an interest in musical theatre back in 2016 when I saw my first musical which was the UK tour of ‘Mamma Mia!’ at the wonderful Edinburgh Playhouse. Since then, I have seen roughly about two dozen shows with plenty to come up in the future.

I intend to post fairly frequently with reviews and personal posts.

I hope you enjoy the ride with me!

The Edinburgh Fringe: my tips

The Royal Mile – the central focus of the Fringe

Every year, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival takes place. Having lived in the Edinburgh area for the last 5 years and experienced 4 Fringes, I feel like I am more than qualified to give you all some of my tips for the festival.

Tip 1: Take it easy!
I feel like this is better said than done. The Fringe takes place over hundreds of venues across the city. You are going to tire yourself out after about a day of that craziness. For your own health and well-being, ensure that you are eating regularly throughout the days, and drinking plenty of water. Most venues allow you to take in your own snacks and drinks so it won’t be a problem. In Edinburgh, you’ll find mini-supermarkets everywhere such as Sainsbury’s Local or Tesco Express, selling cheap sandwiches and water.

Tip 2: Be prepared.
I would say that another top tip is to have a good itinerary planned. The worst case scenario is you arrive in Edinburgh to find that all the shows you want to see are sold out. This is unlikely, but already, some popular shows have sold out, and there is still a month to go until the craziness begins. It’s probably a bit late for this now, but if you are travelling up, you should definitely book your travel and hotels MONTHS in advance. Hotels really push up their prices as the festival gets closer, meaning that late booking is never a good idea.

The best website to get tickets is the central box office – http://tickets.edfringe.com. Most of the big venue companies such as Underbelly and Assembly have their own websites, but they can sometimes charge more fees than the main site which only charges 80p per ticket. The central box office also has EVERY Fringe show listed in one place, whereas the company websites only have the shows for that venue listed.

Tip 3: Don’t restrict yourself to central Edinburgh.
Most people think the Fringe is restricted to the city centre but it just isn’t. It also extends to the coastal county of East Lothian which neighbours the city. The Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh offers a programme of Fringe events (https://www.thebrunton.co.uk/en-GB/categories/edinburgh%20festival%20fringe), as does the town of North Berwick, further east. (http://fringebythesea.com). It is always good to further explore the local area, and it can be good to escape the craziness of the busy city sometimes.

Tip 4: Stay safe.
I feel like this is common sense. Edinburgh on the whole is a very safe city, but every city has crime. Keep your wits about you, especially in situations such as walking to your hotel at night, and walking in large crowds. Just generally avoid parks and darker streets in the later evenings too. Just common sense on that one too.

Tip 5: Enjoy yourself!
There is no other experience like the Edinburgh Fringe. It is completely unique and well worth travelling from afar to see the wide variety of talent and theatre.

My show recommendations:
Every theatre-related blog will be listing these off, so I will too.

To conclude this entry, I might as well plug my own show. I will be in Bugsy Malone at Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre from the 2nd – 11th August, performing in all the even-numbered dates in the lead senior cast. If some of you could come along, I would be really grateful! To get tickets go to http://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/bugsy-malone.

West End Live: A victim of its own success?

Image result for west end live
West End Live at Trafalgar Square, June 2017

If you are part of the British theatre community, you are sure to have heard of West End Live, a free event featuring performances of most major West End musicals with some guest performers.

It usually takes place over a weekend in mid-to-late June, with Saturday being the longer of the two days with most of London’s flagship musical productions such as Wicked and Les Miserables performing then. Sunday usually features solo artists, such as Danielle Hope who performed in 2018, but some musicals take on a Sunday slot either in addition or instead of Saturday.

Within the last few years, it has gained significant popularity. It outgrew its old home in Leicester Square and moved to its current situation in Trafalgar Square a few years ago, but it has now outgrown Trafalgar Square, and questions are being asked as to whether it is practical or not in its current location.

The queues are getting longer and longer, and the lengths people are willing to go to in order to be up against the barricades is ridiculous, for example, camping out the night before, an ill-advised practice in general, but especially bad given you will be on the streets of London at night, a cold, dirty, dangerous city.

I suppose the appeal of the event is the fact that it is free and non-ticketed, so you can pop in and out as you please without feeling like you have wasted your money or time.

However, it is becoming increasingly overcrowded, and the 40,000 capacity Trafalgar Square is struggling to cope. In the future, it could perhaps take place at Hyde Park. Yes, it is not exactly in the “West End”, but it has held several major concerts before such as Taylor Swift’s sold out 65,000 capacity world tour in 2015. The larger area means that overcrowding can be eased.

Despite the overcrowding, West End Live does bring the theatre community together. Almost every show performs with the odd exception here and there, so you could say it brings people together, by literally putting different fanbases together in the same place.

I believe that in the right venue, West End Live could truly be magical, but until it expands, it will continue to be a victim of its own success with cramped conditions and queues galore.

To find out more about the event, simply visit their website:
http://westendlive.co.uk

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