I'm the administrator for the Musical Theatre and All That Jazz Network, which couldn’t have come at a better time. Before COVID, I’d been feeling the distance between my current engagements and the theatre community, and it magnified when the virus hit.

It's been a reflective time for many, and I knew I needed more theatre in my immediate circles again. This showed at my interview and acceptance phone call, as anyone would be hard pushed not to be galvanised by George's enthusiasm!

The Network is new territory, and it became clearer as I explored the connections between musical theatre and jazz as part of my social media stake out. There were very few crossover references amongst the Fosse images and little commentary on known American songbook classics that were born from musicals and became iconic jazz hits. This provided even more evidence that this Network is going to be an interesting ride.

As part of my professional portfolio at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, I produced a project between my vocal studies colleagues and my sister’s musical theatre counterparts at Arts Educational.  Having grown up in a household that appreciated both classical and musical theatre, I'd always seen how they interlink. Yet, it wasn’t until studying full-time I appreciated the disparities more and what could be learnt from the other. There were so many questions to answer. I sensed perceivable ‘snobbery’ from the classical/opera contingent, then saw faces of wonder from the musical theatre cast as we burst into an Italian opera chorus. If you have a vocalist who understands the harmony versus one who can hear by ear the harmony – who has more value? What are the lines between technique and interpretation? Is there an ‘appropriate’ balance to be struck between music and text and is this, or should it be, dictated by genre?

Behind the clear differences – e.g. sight reading versus note bashing; vocal production preoccupations versus playing with the text; and the stand-and-deliver-mentality versus more physical mobility – there was so much to gain from understanding the other more. It built newfound respect, upped everyone’s game and widened everyone’s musical language. We may approach how we interpret, style and move differently, but we all emote, we all are musical athletes and we all tell stories. I can’t wait to see what stories we uncover on this All That Jazz research adventure.

This article was written by Ciara White.