This is a sickening article and totally a way for me to express all of my love for an awesome society before graduating and use the excuse of Valentine’s Day prompts to have a sit down and write about it. Move along if soppy pieces about things you love aren’t for you. If you’re staying with me, buckle up and get ready to want to give musicals a go.
Joining Showstoppers for ‘Legally Blonde’ in 2019 was the moment my university experience began to change. I auditioned for the show and sang a song from a musical I was in years ago, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. I hadn’t done a show in two years, having previously been in four, four years in a row, and I was terrified, but itching to get back to it. I joined the show as a role I was excited to take on, Paulette Buonofonte, after auditions and callbacks. and started singing, dancing and acting again. Since that show, with its stressful, crazy and manic six week turn around, I have thrown myself massively into the society, auditioning for show after show, running for committee and becoming Development Officer, running workshops, hosting Cabarets and even dabbling in original writing. I was doing loads of stuff, but going to rehearsals, or sitting in The Bridge all day and seeing all manner of Showstoppers friends, became the highlight of every day, and it still is.
Through Showstoppers, I have been able to get to know people with a variety of experience levels and from a range of backgrounds. I’ve gotten to know more queer people, more trans people, and more straight people (surprisingly). I’ve met people who’ve been on West End stages, and people who have never performed before. I’ve met people who dance, who play 10 instruments, and people like me who can’t read music and who have two left feet. All manner of people love musical theatre, and even if they don’t want to do it themselves, they have opportunities to produce or direct, or even to just be a professional audience member. I went on, with the encouragement of the society, to join other PA societies, doing theatre at the Fringe and stand-up at The Hobbit, and was always cheered on and supported, because performing is hard, and you make incredible friends when you’re rehearsing or working together three times a week for 16 hours + in total.
We put on innovative and exciting shows too – shows often never performed or scarcely performed in the UK before. ‘I Love You Because’ is by far my favourite show that I’ve done with the society and I loved the people, the process, the music and everything else about that show, because it truly made me the happiest I’ve been in a long time. And I guess that is it. However good the end product of the process is, Showstoppers still feels like a family, and it is important for any society, be that PA or not, to check the dynamic in their society and make sure it remains a home for its members and that it is a place of kindness and positivity. Sometimes that fails, sure. But 99% of the time, Showstoppers is my Valentine. Because it is a place for a whole lotta love and happiness, and something that made my time at university so special, giving me friends who I cannot ever imagine being without.
So, join a society, let it be a part of your life, and watch how much things change and grow. And hey, maybe you could even join Showstoppers. Viva The Annex!