Last night I had my first night back in the theatre after a two week(ish) hiatus. Apart from when I was away doing West Side Story,* those two weeks were the longest I’ve been without theatre in a long time. I had been starved of my usual fix and, I think, because of this Wednesday’s viewing of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at the Royal Opera House was all the more incredible (although any trip to the ROH is always inspiring). This has led me to think, in my pensive ways, if it’s possible to overdose on theatre. Do I go too much? Has the enjoyment of each visit been reduced because it has just become ‘the norm’? Will I be better off to go less frequently? I know that my bank balance, lack of sleep and social calendar would be relieved if I did. Somehow I can’t seem to agree.

*Even then I snuck to London one evening to see ‘The Ladykillers’. I just can’t help myself.


A recent Facebook status in which…well…you get the drift. A normal three week timetable in the life of me.

Last week I substituted a theatre trip for a visit to the cinema. Granted, it was to go and see the Digital Theatre screening of ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ – I still count that as an alternative – but it didn’t hit the T (theatre) spot. Now, I could write an essay on the pros and cons of filmed plays/musicals but no one wants to read that and it simply boils down to the conclusion that what you see on film doesn’t do justice to the live version. I’d trade 10 (if not 100 – whilst I’m being dramatic) cinema viewings of Merrily for the one experience I had when I saw it at the Menier Chocolate Factory. You may also remember that I spoke in a previous blog about the fact that I love theatre because it is transient and I just think capturing it on a camera kills that. I think transience is what makes theatre addictive. It is only a passing moment between the audience and the actor and then it is gone – if you miss it then you miss out. If you don’t go to the theatre constantly then you are constantly missing out. Am I right or am I right!?

Whoa there, crazy Ridout. With that argument you could also say that unless you see every show playing in town every night then you are missing out on each brilliant, transient, performance. We all know that that is impossible so maybe I should just give myself a break and be selective. I (and you) should be able to see something just because I want to see it, not through fear of missing something. 

Okay, so if I’m being selective (which I think I am already) should I cut down on the amount I see? The danger with seeing so much theatre is that the level that I now see as ‘good’ theatre is actually, by most people’s standards, pretty bloody impressive. I have seen some incredible pieces this year: Othello at the National, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime at the Apollo, The Color Purple at the Menier, Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier, A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe, Liza Minnelli at the Royal Festival Hall, Patti LuPone at the Leicester Square Theatre…to name but a few. It’s safe to say I have been well and truly spoilt. Amongst these beacons of theatrical hope I have also seen drama school productions, fringe, regional and even home grown amateur group theatre. When the long list above becomes my normal theatrical viewing then how can I sit back and enjoy all theatre in the same way? The answer is: I can’t. I don’t know how critics do it. I find it very hard to sit back and weigh up the circumstances of what I am watching (eg. how big the budget is, how long they rehearsed, are they being paid?) and view it for what it is. I just have a huge comparison chart whereby so much fantastic theatre ends up in the ‘I enjoyed it’ pile when really it deserves so much more than that. So I shouldn’t go as often? Simple. However, if I didn’t go as often as I do I would have missed some of those ‘theatrical beacons’ and, indeed, some of the incredible pieces I have seen off the beaten theatrical track this year.

It would seem that I do have a problem. I would like to stress though that there is one specific kind of theatre addict that I am not. That is the ‘serial show see-er’. Sure, I’ve seen a few shows a couple of times but never* the same cast twice and never an amount of times that would shock you (I have some friends that have seen shows enough times that make even my jaw drop upon hearing the number). I guess my transience argument could come back and bite me here by saying that no two performances will be the same so what is the harm in going for multiple visits? I think the harm comes when you can no longer distinguish one specific performance from the next. If you saw Rachel Tucker in Wicked 6 times but couldn’t tell me which time she did what riff in Defying Gravity (hats off to you if you can) then you’ve lost a bit of the magic. Your memories of the experience become generic and that is when I think you’ve overdosed on theatre. I may have seen a lot, but if you ask me I could tell you something specific that I remember from each production – no matter how low-key.

*well, seriously, very few.

So do I overdose on theatre? It is true that I am harder to please because I see so much but that just goes to show that I am seeing a lot of high quality productions. That is surely a great big “Yay!” for the industry. Keep going Rids, keep going! Oh well, if I must. It would appear that there is no solution to this vicious circle whereby I spend all my time in red velvet seats. I guess I’ll have to try and make my theatre trips feel more special by treating myself to the odd ice cream or G&T. On that note, I’m off to the Arts Educational School to see their production of Stiles and Drewe’s ‘Soho Cinders’ – maybe I’ll get myself a gin!

Happy frequent theatre visits!

“Come on guys enough hesitating, can’t you see your carriage is waiting…” – a bit of Soho Cinders there. “You shall go to the ball Cinderella” has been substituted in my mind for “You shall sit in the stalls please Rebecca”…I like it.

– Rebecca Ridout


Yet again, please don’t be misled by the title of this week’s blog post. It is not going to be a gushing post about how much I love dancing (or ‘Wicked’), it was merely inspired by it. I do hope that by the end of the post you’ll agree with me that it was an inspired choice of lyric (thank you Schwartz). Just a short one this week…

On Monday I went to a class at The Place as it was being taught by Drew McOnie. 

ASIDE: I have to do a bit more than the usual ‘*’ here because it has been an exciting week for Mr McOnie and I think you should all know about it. He has launched ‘The McOnie Company’ and you should definitely keep an eye on it/them (aka FOLLOW or LIKE). As ‘The Stage’ reported, they are exploring “just how far musical theatre choreography can go” and Mambo McOnie is definitely one to watch. I’ll be at the Bridewell in February. See you there. 

Back to class…

This week’s post is not to profess about how important it is to go to class or how much I love dancing – both of which are very true. It is about an idea that Drew put into my head on Monday evening. It struck me then as brilliant and has since struck me as rather profound (whilst staring out of a train window at the pouring rain – I swear my life is one big cliché at the moment). Drew, in all his wisdom, spoke about how dancing these days is just seen as photographs – the images you see on the front of the ‘Dancing Times’ or on advertisements. When you think of dance you conjure images of incredible still moments (eg. the classic ’tilt’ that makes your hamstrings want to cry) and that, quite simply, isn’t dance. Dance is the beautiful way in which you get between one image and the next – that is dance. You don’t have to be the penché pro you imagine, you just have to give it some on the ‘in between’, to dance beautifully. Snap back to class and I then tried to ooze every last ounce of passion out of a pas de bourrée. Man, did it feel good. 

Two days later it struck me that Drew’s idea could be applied to my life (or, indeed, anyone’s). Your life can be measured in a series of still images and in this profession, more specifically, production stills! Your career to the outside world is seen and can be measured through a picture of you in a production and the next one that follows, and the next etc etc… (“Etcetera. Etcetera. That’s a very pretty name…Etcetera” Sorry. I couldn’t resist.) Getting a job is all that is focused upon and it’s all we feel we have to show for ourselves. No one gets to see the beautiful way that you got (or are still trying to get) between the two. Ultimately, the ‘in between’ stage in this industry is how you will spend the majority of your working life and you have nothing to show for the hard work that goes on. Sometimes, like a pas de bourrée or a combination of dance steps, the ‘in between’ can be messy but if you give it everything you have then it should be incredible to watch. Passion is what separates good dancing from great dancing – so why not apply it to every aspect of our day-to-day lives? 

Blimey, she’s gone a bit deep this week. What can I say? I think it’s the change in the weather. All I want to do is sit inside, wrap up in a blanket and pensively watch the rain. It’s just a little food for thought. Even if you’ve got a load of auditions, no auditions, drama school applications, classes on top of coursework or juggled commitments, and consequently straying priorities, do not worry. Just use your plié and get everything possible out of what you’re currently focusing on – that is dance and that is life. The still images, which are just captured highlights, will be breathtaking as a direct result of what goes on ‘in between’ (much like the shots of The McOnie Company). 


Dancer: Jaslyn Reader
Photo: Pawel Piotr Niemczyk
Styling: Imogen Loveday-Brown


I think Jaslyn (pictured above) wouldn’t mind me saying* that in her downtime she likes to wear tracksuit bottoms with one leg pulled up to the top of her thigh and one down as normal – she also teaches an incredible dance class and makes a mean coffee. What I’m trying to say (at Jaslyn’s expense via the internet) is that she is human and doesn’t fly through the air looking fierce 24/7. Jaslyn gives passion to her ‘in between’ and she was beautiful in whatever she was doing before that photograph was taken and will be beautiful in whatever she does before the next. Give the ‘in between’ your everything and make it something to behold – even if it’s for your eyes only. 

*I hereby give Jaslyn Reader permission to humiliate me on the internet if this is not okay. 

Happy chewing over that!

“And the strange thing: your life could end up changing while you’re dancing through”

– Rebecca Ridout

Okay so maybe there isn’t a silver frame involved but I was struggling to think of a lyric that would lead into a post about headshots. Anybody? No? ‘A My Name is Alice’ will have to do then. I was lost on what to do a post about this week and then headshot day reared its ugly head and somehow the inspiration came. If you are yet to experience headshots please don’t let my fear of them put you off. I imagine that you’re all beautifully photogenic and your personality will jump through the lens. I, however, freeze up between the moments laughing before the shot and the serial-killer-eyed shot itself. I am hoping I am not alone in this inhibiting habit.

I had my first ever headshots taken earlier this year by the incredibly talented photographer Christopher Mann. Prior to the day, and on the day itself, I was terrified at the prospect of having my face being captured in a photograph that will ultimately aid/hinder my career. I took on my teacher’s advice (selection of tops, second day hair, not too much flesh on show, take a pot of Vaseline, beware of too much make up) and took on some so much that I got scared of make up and consequently wore NO MAKE UP. In Musical Theatre, I think this is fairly unheard of and at the time I didn’t know if it was a stroke of genius or a set up to fall. Still, off I went make up free and terrified. The concepts of leaning far forward, chin down, looking up, just a millimetre more to the left etc were so alien to me and I can only imagine that I was a nightmare to work with. Kudos and snaps to Chris for being so generous with me and helping me through it. He was fantastic at making me feel at ease (have a look at the ‘Testimonials’ page on his website – genius). That was the first step done. Then comes the choosing of the photos.

Looking through hundreds of photos of your face will always be a very surreal experience and my biggest advice is to be objective. You’re looking at yourself as a product, not for a nice picture of yourself – if I had gone for vanity I would have picked something very different to my final headshot. I would also advise that you don’t put them all on Facebook for a free for all of all your friends – especially  to avoid people not in the industry. As much as your aunty would love to look at pictures of you and offer her opinion, she will choose the picture that is the ‘prettiest’ or ‘handsomest’ (I had to Google to see if I had made that up) rather than something that resembles an actor’s headshot. If you’re going to put them on Facebook because you want some help I’d advise a private album shared with a few people who you think will know what to look for. Too many opinions are just confusing and at the end of the day it is down to personal choice – one casting director will love your shot and the next may not. If you can make the decision on your own (or with your agent) then do it. If you can picture yourself holding it up in front of your face, donning a leotard, a la Chorus Line then you’re done.

As a hater of photographs of my face, I was very pleased with what Chris had managed to get out of me. In an unexpected, make up free, way I think some of them are beautiful.* They were, however, all very serious. As much as I like to think of myself as a serious person –  albeit, a serious actor – I did need some photos of me smiling (ugh) and showing some personality (HA). So yesterday I had a new headshot session with the, again, very talented Simon Mayhew.

*May I just stress that I am not vain – I am the least vain person I know. I’ve just been reading some feminist books recently (‘Be Awesome’ by Hadley Freeman and ‘How to be a Woman’ by Caitlin Moran) so I’m trying to embrace what I’ve got. Thank you for understanding.

As happened earlier in the year, I felt slightly nauseous heading to the session. I can’t help it, it seems I am terrified of my own face. This became apparent throughout the shoot and Simon did his best to get me to “embrace” and give a “committed smile”. Like Chris, he used things to think of whilst having the photo taken and, like Chris, he was getting the same useless face off me – so much so that he asked if I actually enjoyed acting. I tried to explain that I do, of course, love acting and that normally I’d be fine pretending to be a naughty housewife in a supermarket who’s hiding a cheeky secret. I love the theatre because it is transient so in that moment I can be a Disney Princess if needs be, or my “go to” Mary Poppins, but knowing that a photograph will last forever puts a barrier on that. Anyone with me? Anyway we soldiered on and Simon seemed to think he had got some good shots.*

*I have now seen my contact sheet after writing this blog post and I can safely say that Simon is fantastic and that he did get some great** shots of me at, arguably, my most vulnerable (smiling).

** See previous explanation that I am not vain!

I think I can pinpoint the moment where I softened up yesterday happening when I started singing a song in my head as the photographs were taken. I also (think) I gave my best “committed smile” when I thought of a patronus moment and felt some butterflies (of the positive kind) in my tummy. So if, in my terrified of photos state, I had any advice to offer on how to get through the session those would be my gems (if you can call them gems). I wonder if those moments will be spottable in the final collection of photographs – I look forward to seeing them. I’m sure if you follow me on twitter you will also see them at some point.

I hope that some people who read this share my fear of headshots or at least understand my pain! If you haven’t had your headshots taken yet then I hope there are some things you can take from my experiences or at least some ‘how not to’ advice. If you’re one of the many who are actually secret pros at having your photo taken and are confident with your headshot then please please let me in on your secret ways! I do not want to live out my days practicing my “I really need this job” eyes so that they’re welcoming rather than threatening. Just think of the poor photographers that have to deal with my terrifying eyes until I learn that lesson! Help the photographers, headshot pros, help them. Also, next time you see me I want you to strike your best ‘hire me’ headshot face as a greeting. This would please me greatly. Happy headshot practicing!


This clearly isn’t the look I, or any of you, should go for.

“Look at that face – Just look at it. Look at that funny old face of yours.”

– Rebecca Ridout

This week’s blog has a soundtrack to go with it. Listen to THIS whilst reading.

When your alarm goes off at 6 in the morning all you want to do is ignore the world and return to your dream of Olivier (or Tony if you’re one of my few American readers – I know, cool right) nominated performances. This is heightened to its extreme on a Sunday morning and on Sunday 29th that was my alarm – it seems there is no rest or mourning for the wicked. I had to get up at 6am because I had a singing audition at 9am. Needs must though so I rolled out of bed and started sirening. Outside of the house the ‘It’s Sunday morning!’ confusion continued as I walked through Peckham in a red dress and hair primed at the slightly less ungodly (ungodly even, if not especially, on a Sunday) hour of 7am. It took some self restraint to not sing ‘Mysterious Ways’ from the Color Purple to everyone who gave me a funny look but with the joyful lyrics swimming round my head my lethargic body got a Sunday spring in its step. 

Obviously, I overestimated the time it would take to get to the audition venue via public transport (but you never can trust tfl) so I went to kill some time in the safe haven of Starbucks. As I sat down with my coffee I noticed the song that was playing had the repetitive lyrics “Ain’t nobody that can sing like me”. This seemed all too coincidental in perfect timing to hear just before a singing audition so I’ve since found the song and I think it may become my new pre-audition ‘go get em’ anthem. It certainly made me laugh, overdressed, in a Starbucks at 8am, on a Sunday.

LISTEN HERE (after Sunday, obviously. Don’t cut off Sondheim) 

Audition done, Sunday was also my last day of staying at friends’ houses and I couldn’t really go back to the house before 6pm. By now it was 10am, which is debatable as a decent time on a Sunday, so I called my friend Adam to plan a catch up. As we know there is no rest (or mourning) for the wicked so I agreed with Adam (the stagey soul that he is) that we could go to the National Theatre so he could be productive with his school work. Brushing my student envy aside, I agreed that I could waste a day in the National, reading a book or browsing the book shop, completely contented. As we walked into the Nash (can I call it that now I’ve established its full title?) alarm bells went off as we spotted that there were tickets available for the matinee of Edward II. Lo and behold, they had £5 entry pass* tickets available. How could we refuse? We still had a few hours to be productive in and going to the theatre is educational (right?!) so if Adam didn’t have an excuse, I didn’t have an excuse. Sold. It soon transpired that my friend Rupert was on his way to the National because he had received an email from entry pass** for the £5 tickets so he too thought “why not?”. To put the cherry on top of the cake, his seat was next to mine – the universe was on my side this Sunday. 

*I hope if you’re 16-25 you signed up to the entry pass system as talked about in my tickets blog so you don’t miss out on things like this! 

** Seriously, sign up to entry pass

Near us in the audience was Hattie Morahan who is currently giving away her heart and soul every night at the Duke of York’s in ‘A Doll’s House’. Our first thought when spotting her was that even following her exhausting show schedule she still comes to the theatre on her day off – snaps for Hattie! This little fan girling moment, however, does lead me nicely into the additional information I wanted to share with you in this blog post. 

After years of being rejected at box offices, failing to persuade them that my £20 was better than letting their seat go unsold, I have finally found success. It started one day when I was trying to get standing seats for Les Miserables (when the house is sold out you can pay to stand at the back of the Dress, if you’re in comfy shoes it’s worth it) when my friends jumped in front of me on Shaftesbury Avenue and told me not to bother as they were all gone. It was 7.17pm and we didn’t want to waste our trip into town so decided to bash our heads together and think what theatres could accomodate us at this time. Long story short, we ended up at Mamma Mia paying £20 for great seats. As it was a popular show I had never seen before I considered that a bargain. The following week I walked past Matilda with a group of friends at 2.25pm and thought we might as well just pop in and ask. We managed to get best available (which were incredible) for £30 – again, an absolute bargain based on the popularity of the show. Then last week I popped into ‘A Doll’s House’ (aaaahhh, there’s the link) and got a great seat for £10* and finally, the example of £5 with Edward II. 

*This one I really recommend you do. Morahan’s performance is not to be missed. Many people study ‘A Doll’s House’ in their time so if you are studying or have studied the play this version is a must see. If its the only production you ever see of this classic, go see hers. 

So there’s another cheap(er) method of getting tickets to add to your list. Tomorrow I’m going to queue for ‘Chimerica’ as that is the latest on my list of must sees. Let me know if you have any success getting into any shows last minute. There’s no harm in asking a box office if you’re just walking past. Why not go on a Sunday? You’ll get to see a great piece of theatre and be home in time for Downton Abbey – what could be better? It was the perfect send off to my three weeks of homelessness and it’s a way I wish I could spend every Sunday. Happy Last-Minute-Ticket-Hunting and Happy (premature) Sunday!

As an aside: I’m sure you’ll all be pleased to know that I’m all settled in my new house and that my theatrical paraphernalia is out in force. Here’s a small section of my new room, feel free to play spot the stagey item. 


Amongst my belongings is a picture of the composer Charles Miller. It was my ‘Teachers Pet of the Year’ award from LSMT. It sits with pride on my shelf.


“It’s Sunday morning, so make a joyful noise. (Joyful noise) unto the lord! Today’s the day god hath made. It’s Sunday! Sunday! It’s Sunday! It’s Sunday morning, so make a joyful noise unto the lord!”

– Rebecca Ridout


This week something happened that affected the majority of people I know in a very big way. Yep, you guessed it – The iOS software update for the iPhone (bear with me, I am going somewhere with this). With change comes complication and I had to completely wipe my phone in order to get it to work properly again. However, being me, I found a silver lining to this annoying circumstance. I got to re-download all of my podcasts. I know what you’re thinking, my life is crazy exciting. Just in case you aren’t a slave to Apple products I’ll add the information that when you haven’t listened to your podcasts they leave a red notification bubble on your screen. I cannot be dealing with these reminders clogging up my floating picture (my favourite feature of the update) of Mary Poppins. I’ll just have to listen to all my podcasts again – joyous news. I have been absolutely loving listening to them all over again and felt I needed to share the happiness. I fear that people may have missed the podcast bandwagon and that needs to change!

If you aren’t a podcast person I do not blame you – I never used to be. It was actually my friend Jack who introduced me to them earlier this year with an episode involving Mandy Patinkin talking about his time in ‘Sunday in the park with George’. Straight away Mandy’s voice was filled with passion when talking about the song ‘Move On’. I was swooning away at his commentary when his voice changed suddenly and he got all choked up, I stopped swooning and was hanging on his every word. He talks about how cannot listen to ‘Move On’ because he misses it too much and that ‘Sunday (ITPWG)’ was the best part of his life on the stage. I challenge anyone who performs to listen to that podcast and not well up (I cry every time but I am an overly stagey emotional person). Naturally I had to hear more so I downloaded the entire Sondheim series. I have since downloaded the entire Masterworks Broadway podcast collection. There are interviews with critics, creatives and the Broadway legends themselves. As well as snippets of scores you get to learn about the works and hear the experiences of the people involved. For a nerd like me, nothing could be more appealing.

To get them in your life your options are as follows:

  1. If you have an iPhone* download the Podcast app, search for Masterworks Broadway, subscribe and then download all of them so you can listen to them without internet streaming (the perfect commuting companion).
  2. If you don’t have an iPhone but do have iTunes, skip the app step but search for Masterworks Broadway in the iTunes Store.
  3. If you don’t have either of the above you can listen to them all via the Masterworks Broadway website.

*NB: I am not being endorsed to advertise Apple products. I wish I was.

So that’s it for this week really! Short and sweet, spreading the Sondheim and general stage love.

As an additional note, remaining on the Sondheim theme, my theatrical visit this week is to Guildford to see ‘Putting It Together’. I adore the show and cannot wait to see it live – especially with the incredible cast line up of this production (David Bedella, Daniel Crossley, Janie Dee, Damian Humbley and Caroline Sheen).


“This chair is completely out of proportion”

If you don’t get the above reference then you clearly haven’t seen the 1999 Broadway production which is a huge gaping hole in your life that you didn’t know about. Unfortunately you can’t watch the whole thing on Youtube (you have to be crazy like me and buy an American DVD player just to watch your theatrical DVDs) but you can watch one of the best showstoppers of all time here. You should also try and get to Guildford to see this limited run (4 shows only Friday – Sunday) – I’m going tomorrow (Friday). Hopefully I’ll see you there, or, if not I hope you’re at least listening to the Sondheim podcasts in solidarity. Let me know if you managed to avoid tears at the Mandy Patinkin ‘Move On’ episode and if you find any podcasts that you love. Happy listening!

PS. More Sondheim: on this day (26th September) in 1957, West Side Story opened at the Winter Garden Theatre, Broadway.

“Every moment makes a contribution, every little detail plays a part. Having just a vision’s no solution, everything depends on execution: putting it together- that’s what counts!”

– Rebecca Ridout

The fortnightly blog post was clearly a lie. I apologise. I do hope you’re okay with it and that we can move forward together despite my apparent lack of timekeeping skills. However, surely it’s better to write more frequently than it is to write less? I guess only time (and my friends who are on quality control) will tell. This week’s post is just a little ‘Food for Thought’. It’s an opportunity for me to let off some theatre themed steam and I’m hoping that in reading it you’ll discover a shared experience. It’s hopefully a pat on the back if you’re a graduate and a forewarning if you’re a student (remembering forewarned is forearmed). Here we go then…

Since graduating I’ve found it very hard to answer even the simplest of questions. “What are you up to at the moment?” “What’s new with you?” “How’s everything going?” There are endless word combinations that all culminate in the same scenario of me stumbling over my words, trying to justify my existence, and resenting the questioner. Now, how I expect to have a conversation with someone and this question not come up I do not know. I do know, however, that I didn’t have this problem two months ago. It is obviously the curse of an out of work actor. We all know there is no shame in not having a job (“That’s showbiz, kid”) but you still want to be able to paint a picture of the glamorous life you are living – even when, as in my case, you only have waitressing, theatre trips and a blog to show for yourself.

As soon as you choose this career path you (or at least I do) constantly justify yourself to those who “don’t get it” – the friends and family who aren’t in the business. It is undeniably easier to say: “I’ve got a part in _______, I start next week” than it is to explain the ups and downs, ins and outs and confusing reality of auditions. This is something I expect to have to explain/justify to family and friends though. I’ve been doing it ever since I first applied for drama school so I don’t get phased when they ask what I am up to – it’s like the answer is on tap. Why though am I struggling to tell people who are in the industry and consequently “get” my situation?

I’ve always instinctively asked graduate friends what they’re up to. It’s not to be nosey, it’s not to find out what they’re being seen for, it’s not to rub salt in any rejection wounds and it’s not to remind them that they still have post show blues (*COUGH*). It’s because all you’re hoping for is for them to turn around and tell you that they have a part in the aforementioned _______, and that you can gleefully hug it out. I had, until I became the out of work actor on the receiving end, always seen it as a caring question filled with hope of a positive response. I’ll admit that I sometimes got the defeated look with the “just auditioning, you know” response but I had never considered that the person could have been worn down by having had that conversation multiple times that day. Now that I am that person I can safely say (having seen many people I needed to catch up with recently at a theatrical event) that it is hard to come up with a multitude of positive replies!

What is the solution then? Not asking that question is near impossible. You want to ask in case the answer is a cause for celebration, you want to ask because you care but you don’t want to ask because you don’t want to be a reminder of their lack of opportunity. I genuinely don’t think there is a solution. Pointless blog post, you ask? I certainly hope not. I hope it provoked some thoughts in you, please let me know (@beccaridout) if you share any of these feelings on the asking or responding end. I know writing this has been like therapy for me! It means that next time I am asked I will know to control my death stare and will no doubt chuckle away to myself before launching into: “Well, it’s funny you should ask that because…”

Additionally, tonight I am off to see half of my year group for a mini reunion and to see ‘When Midnight Strikes’ at the Gatehouse Theatre. That will mean a minimum of 25 times being asked a combination of the above questions. Bring it on. I may not have an acting job currently but I’m spending time with people I love, seeing what I love. ‘When Midnight Strikes’ is written by LSMT’s own Head of Music – the man, the legend, Charles Miller (not forgetting his lyricist partner Kevin Hammonds). I know, even before I get there, that I am going to love this production with LSMT at its heart, actor friends in the cast (who, guess what, still had the same reply as me to the above questions in early August) and a top notch creative team. I cannot wait! Also, as I am typing this, the sun is currently shining in London town after days of miserable weather. It must be my happy thoughts. Remember: when in doubt, Ridout will sort you out. Or, if that fails…ask Mary Poppins (we are practically the same person after all). Happy question and answering!


My new mantra before answering.

In regards to having a positive spin for every seemingly negative answer:

“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way”

– Rebecca Ridout

This post is about books and, you”ll have to bear with me on this one, it needs a little introduction. Back in year 6 my class were set a long term homework task of writing an autobiography. Yes, at aged 10 I was being asked to produce literature on my short and insignificant life – what a pointless exercise. Combine this with volunteering in a charity shop for years and seeing rather unloved (and clearly uninspiring) copies of ‘celebrities’ biographies constantly abandoned left me completely put off the idea of ever reading one. I stuck to this (naive) decision until my current, ripe-old, age of 21. It was only this summer that I finally saw the light and discovered just how brilliant biographies can be.

At West Side Story rehearsals (sorry – there will eventually be a post that doesn’t reference NYMT) Tom Deering had brought along his copy of Leonard Bernstein’s biography and, after professing how it had changed his life, offered to lend it to anyone willing to read it. As I was playing the ever-elusive-act-two ‘Somewhere Girl’ I had a lot of free time in rehearsals so took him up on the offer and began tackling the impressive text. Not long into the book a quote appeared:

“You must work, work very hard. You must devote all your time to your art. You must keep yourself pure. Do not let your friends spoil you with flattery. You have everything to make you great; it is up to you only to fulfill your mission” – Dimitri Mitropoulos

I scribbled it down in my notebook and from then on I knew that this book was going to be a worthwhile read. I will, however, have to be honest and tell you that I did struggle to read it! Humphrey Burton did not leave a single stone unturned and whilst I sped through the musical theatre related chapters I would always reach somewhat of a halt when it returned to his conducting years. My advice here would be: always persist! In these difficult chapters I learnt so many new things (least of all that his name is pronounced Bern-STINE – a mistake I made on many occasion) and, a few weeks later, when I met someone who knew Bernstein I wasn’t an uneducated fool when he referenced Tanglewood or the ‘Age of Anxiety’. Proof that you never know when knowledge will serve you so you should always look to expand it!

Reaching the final chapters of Bernstein’s biography I was getting progressively more upset and emotionally attached. You really feel like you know the person by the time you’ve read all about their life and I wasn’t ready to let go of Lenny. Instead of crying myself to sleep I decided to put the book down and read it the following day in a rehearsal – where at least I’d have some human comfort if I was a crying mess. Sitting listening to his work being played by a 33 piece orchestra as I read his final moments was an overwhelming experience. When the orchestra went on a break, and I had finished wiping away my tears, I mimed across the concert hall to Tom my heart being ripped out and he graciously waved it goodbye. It was official, I was hooked. Reading the biography of a person who has made an impact on your life/your career/your love of something is unlike anything else. Additionally, as morbid as it may seem, reading the biography of someone who has died means that you know the mark that they left on the world – or, more importantly, your world. It’s definitely my new favourite form of non-fiction. So, having spoken quite a lot about my first biography experience I will try and keep it brief on the books that followed. I’ve read a composer’s, a choreographer’s, a performer’s and now I am currently reading a playwright’s biography – theatrical enough for you?


Clockwise starting top: Somewhere by Amanda Vaill, Judy Garland by Anne Edwards and Leonard Bernstein by Humphrey Burton.

Next up was (the aptly named) ‘Somewhere’ on the life of Jerome Robbins. In a nutshell: it is stunning. If you’re a fan of any of Jerome’s work then it is an absolute must read and you will find it (comparatively to Bernstein) easy to read. The top inspirational quote of the book being: “Just remember each day, hour, and minute of your life is a passing one – and it’s gone forever – so enjoy all of it…stop trying to solve it. It doesn’t solve.”

This was followed with ‘Judy Garland’ by Anne Edwards. I will have to say a bit more on this one than on Jerry’s I’m afraid. Whereas Lenny and Jerry (that’s right, I feel like we’re buddies after reading all about their lives) had relatively happy lives with the occasional bad spell, Judy’s was one life-long struggle. I knew she had lived a hard life (I mean I saw ‘End of the Rainbow’!) but nothing could have prepared me for the contents of that book. When I finally reached the chapter where she died I had already cried numerous times and felt that I had mourned the loss of her life much earlier in the book – her death felt like a relief. I really recommend that you read this book if you’re ever worrying about your career, and struggling with the hard graft at the bottom, so you can have a reminder that it isn’t always fun at the top. Here are a few quotes which struck me:

  • “I can live without money, but I cannot live without love”
  • “A great entertainer doesn’t really die” – I think this was the point that I ran out of tissues.
  • “You don’t always keep on the top. My life, my career has been like a roller-coaster”

On a much lighter note: Leonard Bernstein appears everywhere! He obviously appeared in Jerome Robbin’s biography countless times, but I was more surprised when I read: “I remember Bernstein, the tears running down his face” whilst present at Garland’s 1961 Carnegie Hall concert. He also appeared in my current read (Tennessee William’s ‘Memoirs’): “I was lonely at first. But soon I met Leonard Bernstein”. Well whaddya know? He gets around doesn’t he? What a man. Now that’s lightened the mood…

To try and round up my opinions on biographies I think John Waters, who wrote the introduction ‘Mr Williams saved my life’ to ‘Memoirs’, puts it perfectly: “Reading his book is life having a few stiff drinks with Tennessee…as he tells you juicy life stories that were once off the record. Listening could save your life too”. Reading biographies (or autobiographies) of a person that influenced your life could be just what the doctor ordered. It certainly was for me. As my first blog post was about my experiences of highs and lows since graduating I thought that recommending some books on other people’s lifetimes of highs and lows was a suitable follow up! I cannot recommend them highly enough. Do let me know, on here or via twitter (@beccaridout), whose you pick up and how they affect you. Happy reading!


Memoirs by Tennessee Williams and my first ever show merchandise purchase!

“I read about the joys, the world dispenses to the fortunate, and listen for the echoes. I read to live”

– Rebecca Ridout

Again, in advance of Thursday’s promised blog post, I am having to write a ‘bonus blog’ due to my day’s inspiring activities. It also feels like the perfect follow up of last weeks ‘ticket tips’ post as today I was part of the longest ticket queue I’ve yet to encounter (9 1/2 hours)!

In case you missed the memo: Today at 4.30pm a hundred tickets were released to the opening night/press night of Miss Saigon on the 21st May 2014. You also got a free poster (long may the hoarding continue).

Waking up at 5.30am this morning (apologies in advance if my grammar/general understanding of basic English is questionable in this, I am rather tired) I seriously questioned my stage related sanity but still soldiered on. We were (my queue partner Sinead and I) the first people to arrive at the Prince Edward Theatre. This seriously shocked me, where were all the Saigon fans!?* However, knowing we were guaranteed tickets we went and treated ourselves to breakfast whilst keeping an eye on the theatre front. Then, when we were well fed, we felt happy joining the queue in 4th & 5th position respectively, and set up camp for the next 8 hours.

*Apparently they were all waiting to book tickets at home like sane people! At 5.55pm Miss Saigon had broken West End and Broadway box office records for ticket sales in a single day by making £4,402,371 since opening the lines at 10am. Wow.

Here are my top tips for an enjoyable queue experience:

  • Most importantly for comfort: wear multiple pairs of socks. I’m being deadly serious. Even with two pairs of socks my toes were numb within the first half hour.
  • If it’s likely to rain, and you won’t be under the cover of the theatre, make sure you have an umbrella!
  • Take something to sit on. I had seat cushions and the lovely lady in front of us had a camping chair!
  • Don’t be shy to chat to the people in front and behind you – they’ll be your “I’m not jumping the queue!” ambassadors when you go to get food and they provide top notch entertainment. Time can fly by if you’re having fun. After all, you’ll be seeing them again in the theatre!
  • Download the app ‘Heads Up‘ (for 69p) – this is just for general life and queue fun. You’ll need to buy (a further 69p) the ‘Broadway Baby’ deck for particularly popular ticket queue entertainment but it’s totally worth it. Trust me.
  • I would normally suggest taking a flask of hot coffee/tea/chocolate but a massive shout out has to go to the staff at the Prince Edward Theatre, especially our queue controller Mikey, who provided us with free tea and coffee!

I hope they are helpful, if a bit brief! Let me know if you have any other gems.

Now, having been told all day that our tickets would be in the Grand Circle (so at £20, only a small ticket price and reservation fee saving) we had been sold on the fact the tickets were for the opening/press night. When I went to purchase my ticket the box office man said “So I’ve got you two tickets in the front row…” and I had to seriously suppress my urge to jump up and down whilst screaming with happiness. The cameraman next to me got, what I can only imagine to be, a hugely embarrassing reaction shot. I seriously hope it doesn’t find it’s way onto the internet. In that moment, however, I did not care – I was going to be sitting in the front row. Suddenly, all my 5.30am induced fears of insanity washed away and I felt completely justified in my dedication to queuing. Just yesterday I had texted Sinead saying: “There will always be someone who got on the first train and will get there before you” and in that moment I decided I would BE that person. It paid off (only the first 5 people – as you can buy 2 per person – got front row seats).

So the moral of this bonus blog post is: the next time an opportunity like this comes around, you (yes you) should be that first person. Try and beat me to the front of that queue – I dare you. Happy queuing!


Left to right: Danny, Sinead, Me and Grace.

“To Miss Saigon! …. Miss Saigon!”

– Rebecca Ridout

Now, I have to just quickly get across that the lyrical title of this blog entry is not a reflection of my musical tastes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Disney film (in fact I have the entire ‘Disney Classics’ collection on VHS in a special box at home) but despite these two facts I am not a Disney fangirl! It just so happened that Alan Menken chose very appropriate lyrics to suit the content of this particular blog post. There, now thats out in the open, let’s begin.

I am moving house this week and in the process of packing I realised I am a hoarder. I am a hoarder of a specific theatrical variety. I had a discussion with my housemate as to whether I should keep my soundtrack CD’s on the argument that in the future I want the same trip down nostalgia lane as I did when I found all my parent’s soundtrack cassettes. He tried to tell me that in the future when a 3D version of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ jumps out my laptop screen and fills my room I will not care for my CD collection at all. This argument, as exciting as it may sound, did not change a thing. I’m keeping them. I was, however, inspired to do a premature (to my promised fortnightly) blog as a bit of a “getting to know you” session. I’ll show you some of my hoards and throw some tips into the mix. Hopefully it is of interest to some of you and let me know if you do any of the same! We can make some kind of musical theatre hoarders support group.

First things first. My biggest collection: TICKETS

I have been keeping all my theatre tickets since September 2012 in my bedside table and I counted them this morning – there are 61 (and that’s not all the shows I’ve seen this year.)

Ever wondered what 61 theatre tickets looks like? Well now you don’t have to.

I’ll admit that’s a lot. However, I rarely spend more than £20 on theatre tickets (the only exceptions this year being Liza Minnelli, Patti LuPone, Merrily We Roll Along and The Color Purple – all of which I think are justifiable) so here are my tips for savvy ticket purchasing:

  • If you are 16-25 you unquestionably need to be registered with the National Theatre’s ‘Entry Pass‘ scheme. You’ll have to be very quick and ‘on it’ when the tickets become available but you’ll get to see some incredible productions at a bargain price.
  • Get used to being a morning person, take a book (see recommendations at the end of this blog!), and go and queue for day seats. Many theatres have this option you just need to check the websites beforehand. Again, if you’re 16-25 and you haven’t queued for £5 tickets for ‘Matilda’ yet then WHY NOT!? Suck it up, get up early and go. You won’t regret it.
  • Sign up to production companies newsletters via email – including productions that are coming up (I did this with Book of Mormon and just today I booked my Miss Saigon tickets) you can get cheaper preview tickets for shows that, as Mormon has proved, can get very expensive.
  • Shakespeare’s Globe. Sign up to the emails and then when the summer season goes on sale you can get £5 yard tickets for an entire season of shows for less money than a West End ticket price. You’ll have to be quick though – they’re very popular.
  • The Royal Opera House has a student standby scheme whereby you can get £10 tickets (sometimes in the stalls if you’re lucky) to a couple of productions each season. OR if you’re not a student just register and you will get emails with ticket prices as low as £3 to certain shows. It’s not an incredible view but it’s still the Royal Ballet/Opera company in the Opera House for cheaper than a Grande Starbucks. I know what I’d rather spend my money on.
  • Finally my best piece of advice: Be okay with going to the theatre alone! When you ‘need’ someone to go to the theatre with you you have to wait for friends to get back to you blah blah before booking a ticket and you often miss the cheap available seats in doing so. I had my first solo theatre visit in 2011 when I went to see Sondheim’s ‘Passion’ at the Donmar and I haven’t looked back since (and I haven’t missed a cheap ticket I’ve wanted to get hold of either)

That’s tips done. Then what to do with the tickets? I used to stick them on my wall, then on my wardrobe etc etc but as I move house every year because of house shares (which if you’re going to drama school you will do!) I soon realised it was easier to stick them all on a noticeboard and cart that round.

My fireplace.

I am definitely going to have to make a new one of these with the past years tickets. Two noticeboards of tickets? Too much?

Other items you can see in this photo are an applause board from LSMT’s production of ‘Applause’, an LP of ‘West Side Story’ given to me as a present when I got into NYMT’s production and on the wall is a poem about the life and career of Stephen Sondheim. Yep, that’s right, a poem. It concludes: “I hope you have a better understanding on of this talented old guy. If not, ask Rebecca Ridout, she knows everything about him. Thank you and Goodbye” I love it! How on earth could I part with it?

Obviously with all these visit’s to the theatre I can’t just have ticket stubs to show for it. I’ve never been a merchandise girl – I don’t own any show t-shirts or the famous Wicked Umbrella. In a previous ‘stop hoarding Rebecca, you’ve got no wall space’ efforts I got rid of my massive poster collection. It now only includes what I refer to as my ‘Donmar Wall’ (see below), a Royal Opera House ‘One Extraordinary World’ design (it’s beautiful), an Applause and West Side Story advertisement and in true nerdy fashion a Shakespeare timeline. Unfortunately I have no advice to offer regarding posters. I constantly struggle with mine falling down – as lovely as Eddie Redmayne falling on my bed in the middle of the night may be.


An Eddie Redmayne sandwich. Yes please.

Then come the programmes…


The depth of this pile was insane.

This picture does not reflect just how many programmes are in that pile. There are so many! So many that I cannot be bothered to count them. This is my one hoard I completely justify and I urge you to do the same. I have referred to these programmes on numerous occasions looking up performers (sometimes guest teachers you swear you’ve seen in something etc) finding out who the casting director was, the producers… I think it’s important to always read ALL of the creatives and try and remember them – especially if it’s a long running show that you think you will be suitable for in the future! Never mind the pretty ‘picture brochures’ some of the shows offer, always get the programmes with all the juicy details in. Bossy Ridout.

Finally, not so much a hoard but rather a very necessary collection of books is the last item on my list to talk about (you’re thinking ‘phew’.) I thought I’d share with you some of my recommendations if you’re going to drama school, you’re a graduate or just looking for some interesting reading:


NB: The order of this pile does not correlate with the list below. Apologies.

  1. Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen – It’s just a bible of acting method. Highly recommended.
  2. So You Want To Go To…DRAMA SCHOOL? by Helen Freeman – what it says on the tin.
  3. So You Want To Be In…MUSICALS? by Ruthie Henshall – this one is just full of things you can refer back to over you career. Also, who doesn’t love a bit of Ruthie? (not featured in the picture because my copy is currently lent to a friend)
  4. True and False by David Mamet – controversially is a book questioning the purpose of training and acting methods. It is consequently an absolutely fascinating read and also helps you, when training, to embrace that not every approach will suit you.
  5. Auditions by Richard Evans – all the ins and outs of what to expect.

I think that’s about it – or at least these are the theatrical items in my room that I feel have some kind of explanation/something I can offer you about them. I also have costumes, shoes, props, a broken stage combat rehearsal spoon, the aforementioned CDs, countless DVDs (oh and an American DVD player just so I can watch all my Sondheim DVDs on what I call ‘Sondheim Sundays’) and of course alphabetized HOARDS of sheet music.

I hope that this bonus blog has been informative, that you feel like you know me a bit better and that you want to return next week to read what I have to say about some beautiful books I’ve been reading.

“Getting to know you, getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me.”

– Rebecca Ridout

In true theatrical style, let’s start at the very beginning.

Firstly, let me explain the title of my blog. Whilst in my final year of training at the London School of Musical Theatre (from here on in I will use the acronym LSMT) I got a reputation for always having the answer to any kind of theatrical trivia question. A phrase soon came about stating “When in doubt, ask Ridout” and it caught on pretty quickly. Inspired by this I then used it as a way of getting people to pronounce my name correctly (when in doubt, its pronounced ‘Ridout’) – two birds with one stone: a nice little nerdy reputation and a correctly pronounced surname! Then over the course of the year the questions that were asked of me developed from musical theatre trivia to…well…absolutely anything. You name it, I was asked it.

Therefore, I think “When in doubt…Ridout” captures exactly what I want this blog to be (questions about my life answered) However, I’m still unsure as to what content will fill it on a fortnightly basis! Sometimes it will be an insight into the highs & lows of being a new graduate, sometimes it will be me needing to tell you all to read/watch/listen to something and sometimes it will just be a way for me to let off some musical theatre themed steam. I hope all of the above will be worth a read though! It may occasionally be an inspiration and it may occasionally have the ‘Jeremy Kyle’ effect of making you feel better about your own situation (even if its a case of schadenfreude at my expense) but that’s all it needs to be.

So here goes everything. My first experience of highs and (a very big) low since graduating.

On my first Monday morning as a graduate I had what you could call an exceptionally good day. I signed my contract with my agency, I went to the Tate Modern with some of my best friends pretending to be oh so cultured and finished the day drinking wine and rubbing shoulders with half the cast of Downton Abbey at Spamalot’s after show drinks for Hugh Bonneville’s debut. I felt pretty damn jammy. Life continued like this for two blissful weeks whilst knowing I was soon to start rehearsals for National Youth Music Theatre’s (from now on ‘NYMT’) production of ‘West Side Story’. High after high after high watching friends smash their professional debuts and thinking “that will be me soon enough” Then on the 3rd of August I lugged my suitcase (with pilates foam roller in hand) across London to head to Kent for rehearsals.


Now I could write an entire essay on what an incredible experience ‘West Side Story’ was and what it meant to me as a performer. I won’t here though. If you’re interested though you can scroll back through my twitter (@beccaridout) and see what was happening and how blissfully happy it made me. My friend Amy replied to my tweets saying “Oh, are you enjoying your West Side Story experience then Rebecca? You should’ve said” and if you already follow me on twitter you’ll know exactly what she means. I was an incessantly happy tweeter. So I won’t bore you with it on here too!

The Saturday night performance of ‘West Side Story’ has now become what I’d like to call my “patronus moment” (just in case you aren’t a Harry Potter fan I mean one of the strongest, happiest memories you can recall). I was stood on the top of a shipping container on our incredible set and as soon as Amara said “Te adoro, Anton” I felt the vibrations of our 33 piece orchestra play out the closing chords of, arguably, the greatest musical ever written.

I think this photo shows how unbelievably elated I was – look at my little beaming face.

That was the ultimate high. In true dramatic fashion I do fear if it may genuinely be the ultimate high of my career. Not because I feel that my career won’t move onto bigger things than an NYMT production but rather because West Side Story is my favourite (and as previously stated, arguably the best) musical. It was a unique site specific production where we (or rather the creatives Nikolai Foster, Drew McOnie and Tom Deering) re-invented a classic. I can’t put it quite as eloquently as Mark Shenton did in his blog for The Stage so I’ll share what he thought:

“The joy of Drew McOnie’s work is that it is classically inspired, just as Robbins’ was, but also pulses and shimmers to its own distinctive vision, beautifully displayed by this eager young cast. There’s rawness and eagerness, vigour and danger in every step they take, and re-make; the usual critical language of dubbing it bold and breathtaking just won’t do. Instead, it does something even more vivid: it makes you look at the whole show in a new way.”

It really is going to be difficult to top that patronus moment I tell you!

Then after the high, as much as I tried to fight it, came the low. Hungover, I was driven back to London the following day (not helped by the bumpy road surfaces for miles stretching out of Manchester. I shudder at the memory) and BAM. Reality. I had a life admin to-do list as long as my arm and an insane amount of washing. I was no longer singing about a glorious place for us all or needing to have a dance off with someone over a small tiff. I had post-show blues. Then to add to this, on my kitchen table there was a letter from my school – it contained my diploma. Instead of being thrilled with my result I realised I had not mourned my loss of training because of the hiatus (remember? those two blissful weeks?) between graduation and ‘West Side Story’. These post-show blues then spiralled out of control because of combining with post-school blues. Ouch.

It’s been an emotional couple of days with tears springing out of my eyes at the most inappropriate moments (namely when I hear the words ‘somehow’,’someday’ or ‘somewhere’) However, as I learned from Uberfacts on twitter this morning: “Crying is good for your health – Flushing unhealthy bacteria out of your body, strengthening the immune system and relieving stress.” I’ve medicated my broken heart with 3 trips to the theatre in as many days, spending time in the sunshine and probably most significantly starting this blog. Rather than sitting down and thinking “I have nothing tangible in the future to look forward to” I’ve been thinking I have a great expanse of unknown in front of me in regards to my career and, to quote my favourite composer*, I am ‘excited and scared’ to start exploring it.

*I won’t say who it is, I’m hoping you’ll guess.

If you’ve got this far, thank you so much for reading this. I hope you return. Who knows what the next fortnight will hold but that’s the beauty of the industry. I guess any lessons from this experience to any newly graduated performer is to make sure you deal with any ‘no more training’ emotion before you may have to face post-show blues! Make sure you have tissues and friendly faces waiting for you when you return to normal life and if you’ve been away on residential have plenty of washing powder stocked up!


Then when you’ve finished posing in front of a poster for a production you’ve just been in, giving it your best ‘sad face’, dust yourself off and step leap towards the next opportunity.

“Hold my hand and we’re halfway there, hold my hand and I’ll take you there. Somehow, someday, somewhere…”

– Rebecca Ridout