Musical Theatre students from Stratford-upon-Avon College have been treated to a visit by a former student who is now touring the UK in the cast of the hit musical Waitress.
Olivia Mitchell, originally from Worcester, studied Musical Theatre at the College from 2016 to 2018. Olivia returned recently to be on the panel for the current Level 4 Foundation in Musical Theatre students’ audition assessments, providing advice and feedback. Afterwards the students had a Q+A session with Olivia to get real industry insight.
Before her time at the College, Olivia always knew she wanted to study Musical Theatre but didn’t want to take A-Levels. She commented: “Someone recommended the course to me and it was great. I got a lot of independence by attending the College. I loved every second of my time here. At school, I just did singing and dancing for fun but here it felt professional.”
The highly practical course allows students to be part of several shows throughout their time at College. Olivia fondly remembers shows such as Cinderella and Musicals Rock as particularly great experiences: “It was a time where we got really intense training to prepare. The shows had lights, sound, set, costumes. It was so amazing to be a part of such big shows whilst training.”
After College, Olivia trained at the Performance Preparation Academy in Guildford on a three-year Musical Theatre Degree. In her third year she took part in a showcase production of Pippin. It was directed by Alex Sunner-Hughes who just so happened to be the resident director of the musical Waitress. After the show, Olivia was called by her agent to tell her she had got an audition.
Olivia is now performing as a swing in the show. That means she covers 4 ensemble characters and the lead role of Jenna at any moment. Olivia commented: “I did feel prepared in terms of the usual rehearsal process which I became comfortable with during my college and drama school training. However, I was used to learning lots of parts by getting to rehearse them as I went, but for this I had to learn by watching and then be ready to go on for any of the parts, at any time.”
The students really enjoyed the experience. Student Amy Lewis commented: “It has been so great to have a new insight and viewpoint.” Rebecca Johnston added: “It’s been wonderful to have someone that is present in the industry currently, as we can learn what the industry is looking for right now.”
Alex Dengate, Musical Theatre lecturer, was excited to welcome Olivia back to work with the students. He commented: “It’s been a fabulous opportunity for the students to engage with professionals at a key point in their training. Stratford-upon-Avon College boasts a wealth of industry links to expose the students to. Make sure you get tickets to see Olivia on tour in Waitress!”