Secrets of Stage Success

Louise Dearman and Mark Evans
Nick Hern Books

Secrets of Stage Success

The desire of youngsters to pursue a career on stage never seems to wane.

Many of them will have been told repeatedly that at least 90% of those in show business at any time are not in show business but working as waiters, administrative assistants or not working at all. However, the passion for performing is overwhelming and easily overrides logic.

In any event, following the principle of the exception that proves the rule, a very small proportion of those who choose to become actors do find themselves rich and famous, eventually being rewarded with knighthoods and lavish Hollywood lifestyles. Inevitably, these are the people that get the headlines.

While Louise Dearman and Mark Evans may not quite have reached these august heights yet, both have achieved considerable success in the musical theatre. Miss Dearman might be best known for playing both of the leading roles in Wicked, while Mark Evans performed opposite her in that show and has since gone on to conquer the United States starring in The Book of Mormon.

This British pairing therefore has the perfect credentials to tell youngsters about the highs and lows of working in musicals.

The form that they have chosen is novel. They invited the public to post questions on a special website and those from around the globe who were lucky enough to get into the book will find their names immortalised in the final pages.

It appears that the fan base was predominantly made up of those aspiring youngsters who wish to become the next generation of Elphabas and Fiyeros, singing and dancing their hearts out eight times a week in front of delighted West End and Broadway audiences.

The answers are divided into four main categories of secrets, covering learning your craft, getting a job, doing the job and living the life, followed by a postscript for parents and teachers.

Along the way, their thoughts are attractively illustrated by Mark Manley’s caricatures.

A quick sample of questions will give a good flavour of the nature and tone of this book. They included:

  • Should I join a talent agency while I’m a child/teenager or wait until I finish my education?
  • Should I get an agent?
  • How do I keep my performance fresh when I’m singing the same songs every night, eight times a week?
  • What do actors do as their main job?
  • How can I stay positive in an industry full of knock backs? And what do I do when I have days when I want to give up?

The co-authors are very positive people, showing the primary asset of imperturbable optimism.

In addition to answering questions together, each provides anecdotes based on their own personal experience and there are short sections entitled memorable moments to buoy up those who might be losing heart.

Secrets of Stage Success is a light read which will undoubtedly prove encouraging to aspiring musical performers and should therefore make a perfect present for those that already have stars in their eyes.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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