Members of the 17-strong cast and eight pit musicians of ‘Ambition’, all drawn from Hampshire schools and colleges, are pursuing dreams of their own – and they have welcomed the opportunity to kick start their performance careers with a part in a previously unseen, professionally-produced musical.
'Ambition’ was commissioned by Hampshire Music Service, the County Council’s provider of music education. ‘Ambition’, was a unique new project, offering young people an extraordinary opportunity to build their performing arts CV and develop their understanding of the theatre industry.
We caught up with two of the show’s stars to find out more about their ambitions.
Fergus Ross, 17, who attends Bay House School in Gosport, starred in ‘Ambition’ as Osborne, a member of the boy band at the centre of the story.
Fergus said: “We had regular rehearsals, several hours at a time, twice weekly, and the length of time we spent rehearsing really ramped up as we got closer to the first performance. It was quite intense but I enjoyed it.
“Ambition was a great opportunity for me. I’d like a career in stage acting but I know it’s a very competitive industry. I’m considering various options – universities and stage schools – that I might apply to.
“This was the first production I have taken part in that was not organised by my school. When you perform with your school, you already know the other people involved. But when you perform in a professional production, you start out not knowing anyone.
“Ambition has really built my confidence in getting to know new people when you join a production. You don’t know them at all when you start, but you quickly become like a family!”
The musical was written by Hampshire playwright Zella Compton, and has a musical score composed by David Cefai and Tom Guyer, with Tom also as Musical Director, both of whom work for Hampshire Music Service.
The musical’s two final performances, in the Berry Theatre, Hedge End and the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth, gave the young performers their first taste of the pressure of being on stage in a commercial theatre, in front of a paying audience.
Keeley Bradbeer, a 17 year-old flute and saxophone player from Fareham, was selected to play flute and sax in the band accompanying the stage-performers.
She said: “Playing at the Theatre Royal was incredible. It was my first opportunity to play in a professional theatre venue and I was very excited!
“I was confident about playing the music; we all were, as the whole band was made up of quite experienced players, and the music for Ambition was not technically difficult. But the experience of playing in a theatre, with a professional set-up was very new. I felt quite exposed because I was the only flute player. It was a really valuable experience.”
Keeley hopes to study music at University, and her dream is to one day perform in a West End theatre. She said: “I’m doing everything I can to gain experience – I play in several bands – but this is a completely unique thing to be able to put on my CV.
“It was also interesting to play music that nobody has performed before. I was able to see the process of new music being honed for performance – during rehearsals, small changes were made by the director, because the material was being played literally for the first time. It was interesting as everyone is so used to playing the famous songs from well-known musicals.”
'Ambition' is now being turned into a secondary school musical production pack, which will be available from September, enabling schools across Hampshire to return it to the stage in years to come.
To find out more about Hampshire Music Service, and the Hampshire Music Hub which funded the musical, please visit Hampshire Music Service.