How Singers Can Make a Career in Production Shows

cabaret show
There is a world beyond TV talent shows and recording contracts for singers to explore.

These 5 professionals reveal how they made a go of it by travelling the world, running away with the circus and singing on ships. Do you have what it takes to break out of the box?

1. Be a Star on the High Seas

Cabaret singer Gary Williams has performed with the BBC Concert Orchestra to the Melbourne Symphony and has seen over 60 countries. He reveals how you get your foot onboard a luxury cruise liner:

“Cruise ships are one of the few places where we singers can work regularly and make a good living. Once you have an act with musical arrangements for up to nine musicians (some ships have less) you’ll need to find an agent who specialist in ships (cruise lines rarely book acts direct).
Introduce yourself with the usual photos, bio and most importantly a short YouTube show reel. They need to see you have a fully rounded professional act. It’s not just about your voice. They’re looking for entertainers – people who know how to connect with an audience.”

You can read more about Gary and his insights here 

Marisa Lee, an award-winning Australian performer and coach with 25 years’ experience outlines the next-level talents you need to bag a cruise ship gig:

“Soloist, Duo or Trio Singers are expected to keep the party going long into the night, performing high energy and interactive shows in lounges, atriums, or pool-side. Must possess an extensive and varied pop repertoire in order to perform requests. Dance Band Singers are required to have a commanding stage presence, get guests up dancing and continue to learn and rehearse new repertoire as directed by the Band Leader. Cabaret Singers perform two or more 45-minute sets per evening in the ship’s main auditorium. Singers must be fluent across a broad range of vocal styles which include: Pop/Rock, R&B, Contemporary Musical Theatre/Broadway, and Jazz. Production Show Singers perform as part of the cast in a pre-produced show, predominantly in theatre or themed shows. Singer must possess excellent acting skills and basic dancing abilities in tap, jazz and/or ballet.”

You can read more about Marisa and her insights here 

2. Run Away with the Circus

Zipporah Peddle performed as a feature vocalist in Cirque du Soleil’s show ‘O’ in Las Vegas for six years. She shares how she got picked up by the biggest circus in the world:

“I had sent the casting department a video demo, and they felt that my vocal qualities matched those of the original singer from ‘O’, Roxanne Potvin, who was leaving the show after ten years.
I prepared numerous demos of Cirque material over the course of a few months and then I was flown to the final callback in Las Vegas where the other candidate and myself sang with the band for the artistic director and music directors of ‘O’, and the head artistic director of the resident shows in Las Vegas. We also did a short dance and acting audition. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I was walking down the streets of Toronto and got the call telling me that they wanted to hire me!”

You can read more about Zipporah and her insights here 

Eirini Tornesaki toured the U.S.A with Cirque Du Soleil’s ‘Kurios’ for three years. She shares how time on the road honed her musicianship:

“During the creation period of the show, I trained daily with a vocal coach for 2 hours, for about 3 months. My coach helped me strengthen my voice, gain stamina and work on the weaker parts of my voice. Since I joined Cirque, my rhythm and focus has improved as I need to simultaneously focus on my singing and the counting of my band leader depending on the action on stage. On top of that I started becoming more and more comfortable on stage, experimenting with acting skills and interaction with both the audience and my colleagues on stage.”

You can read more about Eirini and her insights here

3. Be an A Cappella Alien

Shai Fishman is the co-creator and musical director for The Vocal People, an out of this world vocal creation who tour the world nonstop. He explains how they find the perfect singers for the ensemble…

“The show started in Israel so we had very little to choose from. We didn’t hire people with specific skills in mind and as a result, as the show developed we had to let a few people go. Now we are tripping over our own concept trying to find suitable performers to fill these rolls as the show expands. I travel the world to find people who are up to the job. There have been so many times that we thought we’d found the right people but for whatever reason – range, stamina, feel, acting etc. – it didn’t work out. There is no guaranteed process of how we recruit but it can take weeks to workshop them and filter out the less suitable singers.”

He also goes on to explain what it takes to make the cut for The Vocal People…

“The Voca People are vocal athletes and have a range well beyond a normal range. You need to have a natural feel and to sing all the musical genres from dub step to opera convincingly. Not just the vocal line but also all the ‘daka dakas’ and ‘widdles’ of the instruments too. You need sooo much charisma. Bearing in mind that the make-up reduces your natural expression and the suits are very confining and sometimes makes it difficult to figure out who’s a guy and who’s a girl. You also need experience. Singing a 6-part harmony is not easy, especially whilst doing choreography.”

No matter what your strengths at a vocalist, there is a unique niche for you beyond pub gigs, record deals or Broadway. Where could your voice take you?

You can read more about Shai and his insights here 

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