High School Theatre

Frustrated
Frustrated

September 4th, 2008, 10:25 am #1

Sorry this is off topic, but I have to tell you how frustrated I am with my daughter's high school. I was wondering if any of you have had the same experience. Before my dd entered high school, I had great expectations of her enjoying the theatre department at the school. When she was small, she worked professionally in musical theatre. She performed on television and had leads in many community theatre productions and Junior High musicals. Then, she gets to High School and from day one was told that they heard she was a "Broadway Baby," and she shouldn't expect to get parts just because of her past experiences. They assign her a private voice teacher who tries to change her voice to opera/soprano and get rid of her belt. Freshman year, she doesn't even make the musical at all because they told her, "Her voice is too strong for the chorus and she's too young for a lead," Sophomore year and Junior year she makes the ensemble, but has never gotten even one speaking role. That wouldn't be so bad, but kids with literally no chance of making it in this business are getting roles. They are ruining my daughter's spirit, yet she continues to get callbacks and leads in everything outside of school from professional theatre to community theatre. She recently went to a famous voice teacher who told her that he wrote and published an article on the dangers of school voice teachers. He said that they do kids a great disservice when they try to change a kid's voice from a belt to opera. He told her that she should never let anyone change her voice because today, in the real world of Broadway theatre, she has the voice that people want to hear. Anyway, it's time for auditions again. This is her senior year and her last chance to perform in front of her friends at the school. I just know they won't give her a lead and I'm venting. Sorry this is so long and rambling. I just want to know your feelings on this.
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another mom
another mom

September 4th, 2008, 11:12 am #2

I sincerely sympathize with your daughter's predicament. Perhaps you should present this article to the heads of her theater department. I for one, would love to read it too. Can you post a link or tell me where I can access it?? My daughter is in middle school, has done some prof theater also and won a singing contest. She too, is a natural belter but is told she must develop an operatic/head voice also. Would like to know Julie's thoughts also, since she has mucho experience and knowledge.
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DE
DE

September 4th, 2008, 12:49 pm #3

I would also like information about this. We were also told to beware of the High School Program when we get there. She also has been cast in almost everything outside of school, but wants the school lead more than anything. They continue to tell us that this program is for kids who normally won't get a lead outside of school. Have you ever heard them say, "Heh Joey do you think you want to be the quarterback this year for the football team?" No it is about winning and playing the best kids even in High School Sports. I have no idea why theater would be different & why they put the really talented one in the ensemble.

I would also like as much information as there is out there. Excellent post. We share your frustration.
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Elizabeth
Elizabeth

September 4th, 2008, 1:15 pm #4

Sorry this is off topic, but I have to tell you how frustrated I am with my daughter's high school. I was wondering if any of you have had the same experience. Before my dd entered high school, I had great expectations of her enjoying the theatre department at the school. When she was small, she worked professionally in musical theatre. She performed on television and had leads in many community theatre productions and Junior High musicals. Then, she gets to High School and from day one was told that they heard she was a "Broadway Baby," and she shouldn't expect to get parts just because of her past experiences. They assign her a private voice teacher who tries to change her voice to opera/soprano and get rid of her belt. Freshman year, she doesn't even make the musical at all because they told her, "Her voice is too strong for the chorus and she's too young for a lead," Sophomore year and Junior year she makes the ensemble, but has never gotten even one speaking role. That wouldn't be so bad, but kids with literally no chance of making it in this business are getting roles. They are ruining my daughter's spirit, yet she continues to get callbacks and leads in everything outside of school from professional theatre to community theatre. She recently went to a famous voice teacher who told her that he wrote and published an article on the dangers of school voice teachers. He said that they do kids a great disservice when they try to change a kid's voice from a belt to opera. He told her that she should never let anyone change her voice because today, in the real world of Broadway theatre, she has the voice that people want to hear. Anyway, it's time for auditions again. This is her senior year and her last chance to perform in front of her friends at the school. I just know they won't give her a lead and I'm venting. Sorry this is so long and rambling. I just want to know your feelings on this.
Is is possible they are intimidated by her experience? Maybe they think she looks at their productions as "small potatoes." I really feel for her. It sounds as if she has a lot to offer the school. They sound really petty. Good luck!
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old fan
old fan

September 4th, 2008, 3:21 pm #5

Sorry this is off topic, but I have to tell you how frustrated I am with my daughter's high school. I was wondering if any of you have had the same experience. Before my dd entered high school, I had great expectations of her enjoying the theatre department at the school. When she was small, she worked professionally in musical theatre. She performed on television and had leads in many community theatre productions and Junior High musicals. Then, she gets to High School and from day one was told that they heard she was a "Broadway Baby," and she shouldn't expect to get parts just because of her past experiences. They assign her a private voice teacher who tries to change her voice to opera/soprano and get rid of her belt. Freshman year, she doesn't even make the musical at all because they told her, "Her voice is too strong for the chorus and she's too young for a lead," Sophomore year and Junior year she makes the ensemble, but has never gotten even one speaking role. That wouldn't be so bad, but kids with literally no chance of making it in this business are getting roles. They are ruining my daughter's spirit, yet she continues to get callbacks and leads in everything outside of school from professional theatre to community theatre. She recently went to a famous voice teacher who told her that he wrote and published an article on the dangers of school voice teachers. He said that they do kids a great disservice when they try to change a kid's voice from a belt to opera. He told her that she should never let anyone change her voice because today, in the real world of Broadway theatre, she has the voice that people want to hear. Anyway, it's time for auditions again. This is her senior year and her last chance to perform in front of her friends at the school. I just know they won't give her a lead and I'm venting. Sorry this is so long and rambling. I just want to know your feelings on this.
I understand your frustration. I think it would serve your daughter better to concentrate on outside local theater, because in my experience, there is a "hierarchy" in all high school clubs/teams. While I'm sure your daughter is very talented, there is probably a lot of competition for lead roles, and other factors that can be unfair often exist. This goes for sports etc. as well. Many kids have trained since kindergarten days for the activity of choice, and there is also a lot about who knows whom etc that goes on, IMO. Maybe your daughter could try another activity if theater does not work out for her, such as yearbook, cultural arts, whatever is offered. But who knows, maybe she will land a role? Good luck to her.
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Anon
Anon

September 4th, 2008, 5:15 pm #6

Old Fan --- Tell me why we have to accept this!
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old fan
old fan

September 4th, 2008, 5:46 pm #7

...believe me, I have waged many "battles" since my kids were little...I think a lot of things are wrong in the public school system, from hours, curriculum, bullying, teacher issues, all sorts of things, etc. The mom who posted first feels more passionately about this particular subject than I do, but I support her. My kids have been lucky to find activities that they enjoy (such as debate team/speech club, badminton, photography and more) I was disappointed that my daughter did not pursue her love of sports, but it was her decision because she did not want to tackle (excuse pun !) the "hierarchy." I would have fought for that one, but it was her call. If the "frustrated mom" and her daughter want to challenge the theater department, go for it !! All I'm saying is that local theater is there for her daughter, and schools do provide many other activities, if she wants to try something else.
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Julie Stevens
Julie Stevens

September 4th, 2008, 6:30 pm #8

Sorry this is off topic, but I have to tell you how frustrated I am with my daughter's high school. I was wondering if any of you have had the same experience. Before my dd entered high school, I had great expectations of her enjoying the theatre department at the school. When she was small, she worked professionally in musical theatre. She performed on television and had leads in many community theatre productions and Junior High musicals. Then, she gets to High School and from day one was told that they heard she was a "Broadway Baby," and she shouldn't expect to get parts just because of her past experiences. They assign her a private voice teacher who tries to change her voice to opera/soprano and get rid of her belt. Freshman year, she doesn't even make the musical at all because they told her, "Her voice is too strong for the chorus and she's too young for a lead," Sophomore year and Junior year she makes the ensemble, but has never gotten even one speaking role. That wouldn't be so bad, but kids with literally no chance of making it in this business are getting roles. They are ruining my daughter's spirit, yet she continues to get callbacks and leads in everything outside of school from professional theatre to community theatre. She recently went to a famous voice teacher who told her that he wrote and published an article on the dangers of school voice teachers. He said that they do kids a great disservice when they try to change a kid's voice from a belt to opera. He told her that she should never let anyone change her voice because today, in the real world of Broadway theatre, she has the voice that people want to hear. Anyway, it's time for auditions again. This is her senior year and her last chance to perform in front of her friends at the school. I just know they won't give her a lead and I'm venting. Sorry this is so long and rambling. I just want to know your feelings on this.
I feel your frustration, I really do. I was told the same thing in school - that I had already had my "moment" and to step aside and let someone else have theirs. I was the only person double cast in my 8th grade musical because the teacher told me that he couldn't be sure I would be there for the 4 performances, due to my habit of leaving school for auditions or work. How do you explain to an idiot that I am a professional and take every performing opportunity seriously and would NEVER miss a performance. In High School, my music teacher took an almost instant dislike to me and went out of his way to be nasty to me in class (in front of everyone). It even happened at NYU where the director of the musical (the only one we did in 4 years, mind you) didn't include me because he felt I already had professional experience.

I agree that many high school music/voice teachers are not qualified to give private lessons. It's great to be involved in a choir or ensemble because it gives you ear training and you learn how to blend your voice with others. Teachers are human and many of them get consumed with jealousy towards their talented students. Just as many casting directors started out wanting to be actors, many voice/music teachers wanted to be professional performers. If they are harboring resentment or disappointment, it can end up being directed at the students with the most potential.

My advice is to seek performing and training opportunities outside of school. The training and experience will probably be a whole lot more valuable and it won't interfere with school dynamics. I was never able to deal with favoritism or school politics, so I just ignored it completely and did my own thing. In fact, the only reason anyone in my high school even knew that I could sing was because they would see me come out and sing the National Anthem at the Sixers and Flyers games (that's Philly's professional basketball and hockey teams). That made me a big hit with the boys in High School!

Julie
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DTB
DTB

September 4th, 2008, 8:05 pm #9

Sorry this is off topic, but I have to tell you how frustrated I am with my daughter's high school. I was wondering if any of you have had the same experience. Before my dd entered high school, I had great expectations of her enjoying the theatre department at the school. When she was small, she worked professionally in musical theatre. She performed on television and had leads in many community theatre productions and Junior High musicals. Then, she gets to High School and from day one was told that they heard she was a "Broadway Baby," and she shouldn't expect to get parts just because of her past experiences. They assign her a private voice teacher who tries to change her voice to opera/soprano and get rid of her belt. Freshman year, she doesn't even make the musical at all because they told her, "Her voice is too strong for the chorus and she's too young for a lead," Sophomore year and Junior year she makes the ensemble, but has never gotten even one speaking role. That wouldn't be so bad, but kids with literally no chance of making it in this business are getting roles. They are ruining my daughter's spirit, yet she continues to get callbacks and leads in everything outside of school from professional theatre to community theatre. She recently went to a famous voice teacher who told her that he wrote and published an article on the dangers of school voice teachers. He said that they do kids a great disservice when they try to change a kid's voice from a belt to opera. He told her that she should never let anyone change her voice because today, in the real world of Broadway theatre, she has the voice that people want to hear. Anyway, it's time for auditions again. This is her senior year and her last chance to perform in front of her friends at the school. I just know they won't give her a lead and I'm venting. Sorry this is so long and rambling. I just want to know your feelings on this.
I know it sounds trite but, there is more to this business than what goes on in High School. Actors will often move out of a town, find a new agent, reinvent themselves to get jobs. I know actors who can't get a call-back at certain regional theaters even though they did the show on Broadway. (yes, not even a call back) So how does this help your dd?
Let her know that this (unfortunately) happens. It's not her fault. If when she auditions she is well prepared, takes risks and does her absolute best, she's done her job. If they don't cast her, it their fault, not hers. She should keep up her training and be ready for the next audition in or out of High School.

The other rout you could take is the drama volunteer. Selling tickets, helping with publicity, raising money are things that will get you in front of the teachers in a positive light, maybe breaking down any walls that you or the teacher may have put up. Teaching High School is tough. Decisions made are almost always 2nd and 3rd guessed. Keep positive and you may gain some insight as to why decisions are made the way they are

Best of luck!
DTB
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french_girl
french_girl

September 4th, 2008, 8:46 pm #10

Sorry this is off topic, but I have to tell you how frustrated I am with my daughter's high school. I was wondering if any of you have had the same experience. Before my dd entered high school, I had great expectations of her enjoying the theatre department at the school. When she was small, she worked professionally in musical theatre. She performed on television and had leads in many community theatre productions and Junior High musicals. Then, she gets to High School and from day one was told that they heard she was a "Broadway Baby," and she shouldn't expect to get parts just because of her past experiences. They assign her a private voice teacher who tries to change her voice to opera/soprano and get rid of her belt. Freshman year, she doesn't even make the musical at all because they told her, "Her voice is too strong for the chorus and she's too young for a lead," Sophomore year and Junior year she makes the ensemble, but has never gotten even one speaking role. That wouldn't be so bad, but kids with literally no chance of making it in this business are getting roles. They are ruining my daughter's spirit, yet she continues to get callbacks and leads in everything outside of school from professional theatre to community theatre. She recently went to a famous voice teacher who told her that he wrote and published an article on the dangers of school voice teachers. He said that they do kids a great disservice when they try to change a kid's voice from a belt to opera. He told her that she should never let anyone change her voice because today, in the real world of Broadway theatre, she has the voice that people want to hear. Anyway, it's time for auditions again. This is her senior year and her last chance to perform in front of her friends at the school. I just know they won't give her a lead and I'm venting. Sorry this is so long and rambling. I just want to know your feelings on this.
well, i think their behaviour is disgusting.
One could eventually understand that maybe, they want to give oportunity to non-professional to be on stage, and not necessarly "use" the more talented who are already professional or already have experience. but it can still be discussed. Anyway, from what you say, it seems like they are rude with your dd, and i was quite shocked to read that they tried to get her rid of her belt (?!). I can only see jealousy in that! disgusting, disgusting.

I hope your dd will manage to get something this year (as it's the last one if i got it right), but i guess she doesn't need high school theatre to proove (proof) anything. though high school is something else, there are the friends and all...(why not invite her friends to see her outside school performances if she can't perform at school)

i start my senior year too, and everytime i read about high school musicals, i think it's a PITY that we, in France, don't have this AT ALL.
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