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What It’s Like To Be Apart Of Durham University’s Musical Theatre Group

What It’s Like To Be Apart Of Durham University’s Musical Theatre Group

Durham University's musical theatre is the biggest in the world. Here is what it is like to be apart of Durham University's musical theatre group. Being apart of the university musical theatre group is the most rewarding thing.

DULOG, Durham University’s musical theatre group, was established over 50 years ago. It puts on five shows a year and prides itself on the professionalism and charisma of each performance. It is a huge society that offers roles not just in singing, dancing and acting but in stage production, directing, choreographing, musical direction, technical directing and morethe list goes on

Musical theatre is a huge part of my life and, having been involved in performing arts from a young age, there is nothing that brings me more joy. Having just finished a run of ‘Seussical the Musical’ at the Gala Theatre – DULOG’s biggest show of the year I have decided to write this article. Though it’s all smiles for the audience, sometimes there is more drama off stage than on, but that’s show biz rightHere’s my personal relay of what life in the limelight is really like.

Auditions are terrifying.

It doesn’t matter how many auditions you go to, they will for most people (cough, me, cough) always be terrifying. You might think that auditioning at uni where everyone knows each other makes it easier, on the contrary. Seeing friendly faces is great until you realize their a phenomenal singer and you have to audition after them. You hear everything through the Elvet Riverside doors; it makes you question why you showed up in the first place. God forbid you have the same audition song. You thought the Hunger Games was intense; it’s the exact same. Maybe I’m being dramatic but I am a theatre lover. Everyone wholeheartedly supports one another. While auditioning is nerve-wracking, it’s worthwhile.


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Waiting to hear back from your audition feels like waiting for a YEAR.

After your audition, if you’ve done well, you get a call back. Then you wait an eternity for one of two things: an email or phone call. No one wants to send or recieve that email. When it comes to Durham University’s musical theatre group, it goes like this: “we were really impressed with your audition but unfortunately this time we are unable to offer you a role.” Ouch. Getting that email is not the best, but it’s not the end of the world either. I always ask for feedback. Keep going to auditions because if you love theatre, that shouldn’t stop you. If you do get the phone call then rehearsals begin; that’s a whole different ball game.

“Pre Season” Musical Theatre

The Gala show is every DULOG-ers most highly anticipated show of the year. It’s a great chance to perform to a large crowd, in a professional theatre. That, coupled with the fact that it’s during the first week of term, equals stress. In order to get the show completed and rehearsed enough, we like to pretend that we are part of Team Durham and start term a week and a half early for ‘pre- season’ MT and that, ladies and gentlemen, that is where the fun begins. Day 1 and everyone arrives at 9am, on the dot, with gym gear and stash on and ready for the warmup. However as we are not a part of Team Durham, nor we are elite athletes, the warm up largely consists of a lot of moaning. It has begun!

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And All That Jazz

Having settled in to a very quiet Durham, rehearsals are well underway and all things singing, dancing and acting ensue. Slowly but surely a show begins to form. There is a lot of waiting around, many repeated harmonies, and a lot of frustration over formations and step ball changes, but we are getting there, and we still have a week left


Blood Sweat and Tears – The Midweek Dip

Now envision this: you’ve been rehearsing now for a week, 11 hours a day, in a room that is only 5 degrees (who said Showbiz wasn’t glamorous?). Obviously, there is bound to be a little bit of tension. Contrary to popular belief DULOG is not that bitchy, but we are only human and we do all get on each other’s nerves. Rehearsing for any musical but particularly one like ‘Seussical’ which has lots of individual parts and small groups results in lots of waiting around. Boredom and frustration usually strike while the directors and choreographers work with others, and, when you’re tired, cold and just want a bit more stage time, there comes a point where the general consensus in the room is “I AM SO DONE

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Morale Boosting

But, there is surely a light at the end of the tunnel? And if not a light then an evident sense of camaraderie. The phrase ‘morale boosting’ was used a lot during the rehearsal period of ‘Seussical and, in an attempt to keep us positive and lively we played all kinds of stupid games. These included embarrassing theatre faves such as ‘giddy-up’ and ‘big disco, little disco’– I mean, what’s acting without a slight loss of dignity. However, there was nothing that lifted spirits more than the first sing-through with the band.


As we walked into the second (slightly warmer) rehearsal space to the sound of the band playing, every person in the cast had a huge grin on their face– it was amazing to hear all the songs we’d been listening to on bad Youtube recordings come to life. The band is always spectacular and their performance in ‘Seussical’ was no exception. Watching the percussion section is something that always baffles me; who knew it was possible to involve that many instruments, and ridiculous instruments at that?! For example, there was a bell that was used only once in the show. And so, with morale officially boosted we went back to rehearsals.

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The First Run Through (AKA a complete and utter disaster)

Theatre people tend to call the first run of a show a ‘stagger through’. However, the first run of ‘Seussical’ was more like a crawl through, with it taking us THREE hours to complete the first act. Painful as it was, the show was still beginning to come together– truly a sight to behold. Also, with a plot line that consists of a boy who is put onto a dust speck, joins an army who are fighting over the best way to butter bread, and is found by an elephant, it was helpful to finally figure out and actually see what was going on.

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It’s Show Time!

Finally, after hours and hours (and hours and hours) of rehearsals it’s opening night. The set had been put up the previous day for the dress rehearsal, the reviewers were in and, we were ready and raring to go. It wasn’t faultless by any means– no show ever is- but we’d done it and it could only get better from there. By show 4 we were working like clockwork. By show 6, there were pranks; don’t judge, it was the Saturday matinee and we needed to keep the energy up.


Within no time it was the final performance: the biggest ticket seller and the one that everyone gives their all, and a little bit more, for. By the end of the run you’ve forgotten about all the trials and tribulations of rehearsals as you’re so happy and proud to be part of such a spectacle.

Post Show Blues

Then, like a glorious birth after so many months or weeks of growing pains: it’s all over. It’s a week after opening night and I find myself writing this article, perhaps in an attempt to feel like it’s not over. Either way, I’d rather be waiting backstage in a ridiculous costume than planning a summative any day. There really is nothing like performing and DULOG do it so well. Can I do it all over again? Seriously – being apart of Durham University’s musical theatre is the most rewarding thing. 

Let us know what you think about Durham University’s musical theatre in the comments below!
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