CDMT Drama and Musical Theatre Virtual Showcase 2021

Richard Evans
Monday, November 22, 2021

Life has been strange and far tougher since the shutdown of the entertainment industry in March 2020 – not least for those who were in the middle of their training.

Performers from Mountview
Performers from Mountview

Robert Workman

As theatres and entertainment venues were forced to close their doors, the majority of students due to graduate in 2020 or 2021 did not get the chance to showcase their talents to agents and potential employers, as they would have expected at the end of their course, before going out into the big wide world. It is therefore especially reassuring that CDMT are back with their annual showcase this year, supported by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation. Normally, we would gather after their Careers Information Event to watch the showcase live, however with well over a hundred students participating and relatively little space in the dressing rooms, backstage areas and wings, the most sensible and safe option was to stage it virtually this year.

The evening was hosted by the experienced actor, producer and director, Alistair Petrie, who talked about his journey into being an actor, offering sage advice and telling us that his career had consisted more of several small fractures rather than one big break. He finished by saying ‘Let the work you’re about to see inspire you’. Watching the showcase inspired me, as all the students made whatever they did look easy and effortless, which, for me, is the joy of watching good performances.

The showcase opened with thirteen students from London Studio Centre performing the Queen hit, Killer Queen, which also featured in the musical We Will Rock You. The talented students performed Rebecca Howell’s sharp and stylised choreography with ease and the vocals and complex harmonies were great. This beautifully staged number was a fantastic choice for a rousing opening, and it set the bar high.

Next came Arts Ed, with both their acting and musical theatre courses represented. There was a duologue from the romantic comedy, How Do You Know?, filmed on location in a restaurant and showing the awkwardness of a couple on a first date. The piece was played completely for truth (as all comedy should be) and made the viewer want to squirm with embarrassment! It was followed by I’m Not That Smart from the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a fantastic show, with lots of songs for young people that aren’t overused at auditions. The performer acted and sang excellently, with the right nerdish quality, well directed by Jonathan O’Boyle with expert musical direction by Nigel Lilley.

Third on the bill were The Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama, who presented a great variety of jazz dancing styles, inventively choreographed by Sue Sparham. This really showed the versatility of the thirty participating students, to a soundtrack from artists including Lady Gaga, Jamiroquai and Britney Spears.

Millennium Performing Arts followed, with Prayer To The Moon, which encapsulated dance, drama and singing, directed and choreographed by Zak Nemorin. The imaginative staging was well filmed and edited, to create mystery and intrigue in the piece. The soloist was very strong and vocally versatile. An excellent piece which made me want to see more of their students.

In complete contrast, Drama Studio London gave us two duologues, both from plays I had never seen before. The first was The Goon, by Peter Malicki and second The River, by Jez Butterworth. These pieces, performed with clarity, well-defined characters and good acting and reacting, left me wanting to see more of the plays they were from.

Up next was the iconic musical theatre song, One from A Chorus Line, performed by Liverpool Theatre School. This is the show that every musical theatre performer will identify with, as it’s about an audition for a role in a musical, telling the story of each auditionee. The number, featuring 51 students, was beautifully choreographed by Rachel Saul, based on Michael Bennett’s original West End and Broadway choreography and made me long to see the show again.

Revolting Children from the hit musical, Matilda, was exuberantly performed by 18 students from Stella Mann College. Craig Scott’s superb staging was similar to the show’s West End production and, although a little older than the children who play those parts in the show itself, these students were no less talented.

All too soon, the showcase was finishing, and it ended brilliantly with Jumping Jack, performed with great sophistication by the students of Laine Theatre Arts, who executed Stuart Rogers’s slick choreography beautifully.

All in all, a great variety of short, sharp pieces, which left the audience wanting more and showed a taster of the excellent abilities of some of this year’s finest graduates. Hopefully next year this showcase will be ‘Back in the room’ (well, auditorium) in front of a live audience, but being virtual has given this year’s graduates the opportunity to be seen by a much wider audience. May this appearance be the first of many for them all – here’s to their future success!


Richard Evans CDG started casting in 1989, after ten years working as an actor, and was the first freelance casting director in the UK to specialise in all areas of theatre. . His book, Auditions: The Complete Guide, is published by Routledge, he regularly leads workshops on audition technique and career development at many theatre and drama schools around the world – from RADA in London to The Lee Strasberg Institute in New York – and has led live events for The Stage and Samuel French. For a wealth of tips, advice and resources on auditioning and performing, go to