A GROUP of local amateur actors were transported to the world of the professional West End musical last weekend.
They were taking part in an intense ‘Les Miserables’ musical theatre masterclass at Holy Trinity Primary School in Berwick, organised through the Berwick Operatic Society and led by the musical’s former resident director and star of the ‘Beyond the Barricade’ show, Andy Reiss. Over three days, they were coached on singing, acting and improvisation techniques, experiencing the hard work and commitment required to put together a national six-month or year-long touring production.
Norma Miles, who organised the weekend, said: “Having been on three weekend workshops with Andy previously, I know they help with teamwork and let everyone gain confidence in their performance. My motivation for organising this weekend was both as a training exercise and a fundraiser for the society.”
Co-organiser and fellow participant Stuart Faed added: “These weekends mix people, no matter what their experience, and take them out of their comfort zones. Andy gets the best out of people because he ensures everyone is involved, acting as well as singing.”
The workshop focussed in depth on five scenes from the musical, building each with historical background and plot information. Individuals were encouraged in particular to engage with the mindset of their characters in order to enhance their development. The weekend ended with a short performance of the work for family and friends.
Another participant, Amy Cowan, summed up the experience: “The acting element of the workshop was particularly enjoyable, and the entire weekend has been wonderful. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time!”
The society, who are busy rehearsing for their spring show ‘Beauty & The Beast’, hope to run a similar workshop in the future. Anyone interested in learning more about Andy Reiss’ musical theatre workshops should visit www.beyondthebarricade.com for contact details.