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An Englishman in New York…

New York theatre

Jigsaw director Andy reports back from his trip to New York about the magic behind the New York theatre scene… 

New York is addictive.

When you’re there it feels that you are part of something but you haven’t quite worked out what it is.  When you’re away from it you want to go back and find out…

I have just come back from a short break to the Big Apple and thought I would share with you my thoughts and experience and how it relates to Jigsaw for me.

Obviously a big draw for me is the major New York theatre scene.  Although the theatres are not as historic, big and architecturally impressive, something happens in a New York theatre that is pure magic.  You often hear British actors express their shock and surprise experiences at American audiences.  I remember my first time to a Broadway show. The lights dimmed and the audience went wild, the first lead actor appeared and the audience continued the roar. This happened throughout the show and culminated in a curtain call equal to a concert at Wembley. The building was electric. Maybe I have been lucky with the shows I have seen, but this has been echoed throughout all my Broadway experiences to date.

Broadway is a loved, well respected and ever expanding community. Broadway stars are famous. It is a wonderful thing to behold. In the West End you need to be famous to be in a show and get bums on seats. On Broadway you become famous by being in a show.

So what’s better – the West End or Broadway?

It is not an easy question to answer but here are my thoughts. Broadway actors are good at everything. Anyone who has a killer voice or can break your heart with an amazing monologue will also be able to dance. The training is such that you need to be good at it all. In this country, certainly when I trained, you needed to excel at one and be OK at the others. I was an actor-singer who never danced a step until I went to drama school, and even in the end I was barely passable. In America I would have failed, yet here I worked and got by with my basic movement skills.

I think this is changing now with kids having opportunities to train in all three disciplines before they go to drama school. If I went to Jigsaw as a child, I would not have had that awful first dance class aged 19 where even walking seemed like a challenge!

What is fascinating to me is that America with this “triple threat” culture is that there isn’t an equivalent to Jigsaw Arts.  They go to classes in acting one day and then dance class the next. American actors perform like they went to Jigsaw yet they never did. America needs a Jigsaw and perhaps it will one day (watch this space). It teaches their multi-discipline culture, as well as sharing the community and positive ethos that Broadway embodies.

The exciting thing for me is that with quality performing arts classes being available to students in this country now, that the West End will start to embody the American culture, where you become a star from your talent… You’re not likely to be able to star in a musical just because you were in TOWIE.  Yet here we seem to think they can.

Come on, let’s get training our kids and investing in the arts from an early age and we can create a West End that can beat Broadway’s energy and thriving community!

Jigsaw Performing Arts is dedicated to developing performance skills, promoting self-expression and building confidence. We offer performing arts classes for children aged between 3 – 18. Find your nearest school by entering your postcode into the search on our home page