APATA – The Australian Performing Arts Teachers Association

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Posted by Team APATA | Oct 17, 2019

There’s a lot of young people in the performing arts working hard to refine their technique in a chosen discipline as well as extending beyond a particular art form to delve into other areas of learning and skill capability. From those seeking careers in musical theatre through to performing arts disciplines to widen their employment offering and extend their body of work, students today tend to explore and study other areas of performance all at the same time. I’d suggest its for good reason! Typically, the term ‘triple treat performer’ (T3) is used in musical theatre training where an individual works towards the ability to do it all – act, dance and sing to a high standard. When you go to a show like Wicked, Les Mis, Book of Mormons, Hamilton or one of the other BIG musicals – it’s glamorous, multi-skilled talent, offering great appeal and universal appreciation that pulls a large audience. A lot of fun right? The truth is, it’s bloody hard work and it takes years of intensive training to get to the position of being good enough to cast for a professional musical. Don’t be fooled by watching those TV talent shows, the amount and level of training these people have is unbelievable.

Becoming a musical theatre performer is a tough journey that requires real graft, commitment and an indomitable spirit. Those that stand the best chance of working in musical theatre are those who are trained as T3’s. Now, all the T3′s that I’ve ever worked with have a primary skill and then work their tails off to become better at the others. We’re not talking about being a fantastic actor with basic dance and some singing skills. We’re talking about those performers that have trained themselves to a professional standard in all three disciplines.

Not all musical theatre performers are T3’s, but it’s the T3’s that have more success of gaining employment. They can go for dance roles, singing roles, acting roles, or those that require any combination of all three. The T3 is a special kind of person and it takes a real dedication to achieve a level of professionalism in the three disciplines where one can be called a triple threat.

Being a triple threat means being able to market yourself as a singer, dancer and actor, and the training should start early, particularly for those that are not natural dancers. Across all three disciplines the earlier you start the better.

Why are they called triple threats? Because when you’re up against one, they can beat you to a job in all three disciplines. The choice is clear, becoming a triple threat or get beaten by one. Interestingly sports also coin the triple threat phrase – a player who can pass, shoot and run is definitely invaluable and certainly worth more at the annual draft as coaches and clubs bid to secure that player to their team.

Individual disciplines like musicians also quickly learn career success and longevity is enhanced when an artist has the skills to combine producing, writing and performing, instead of finding a producer that ‘gets you’! A musician that has the skill base and capability to produce, write and perform owns their momentum and have the confidence to lead and not be led.

The Biggest Triple Threats In Entertainment

 Considering the field of impressive talents across actors, singers and dancers today there are those rare diamonds who can lay claim to being true T3’s!

Hugh Jackman has combined his career across stage, film and television with acting, singing and dancing being rewarded with a swag of Oscar and Tony Awards now sitting on his mantle.

Neil Patrick Harris throughout his career Harris has demonstrated his ability to sing, dance and act his way across a multitude of performances on stage, screen and television with numerous awards to demonstrate his talents. I’d suggest this is why he’s also the ‘number one host with the most’ for Tony showcases.

Lady Gaga belts out great vocals and choreography, has stolen the show at the Super Bowl and demonstrated some serious acting chops in American Horror Story and remake A Star is Born.

Zac Efron has switched it up with Hairspray and The Greatest Show Man, turned his hand at Bay Watch and Netflix features. This multi-talented fellow works across all disciplines with the world at his feet for any project he wishes to flex his muscle on.

Jennifer Lopez started her career as a fly girl dancer on ‘In living Colour’ and has gone on to spread her wings with talent showcased as a singer, actress and dancer with numerous hits, world tours, several films and a bag full of awards. About to be released into cinemas is her next project ‘Hustlers’.

Renee Zellweger proved she was a triple threat when appearing as Roxy Hart in film Chicago. This Texan with it all acts, sings and dances with serious awards and accolades given for her talents. Next cab off the rank is ‘Judy’ the biopic capturing the life of Judy Garland.

Beyoncé Knowles is regarded as the ultimate triple threat artist and has acted in films such as Gold Member and Dream Girls, through to stealing the show at the Super Bowl half time performance extravaganza. Queen B has travelled far from the early days as a member of girl band Destiny’s Child and her body of work looks like its not slowing down any time soon.

John Travolta that’s right Danny Zuko has been one of the original all-time triple threats with popular movies ranging from Pulp Fiction, Saturday Night Fever, Staying Alive, Hairspray and Grease through to an illustrious career in action and thriller feature films and successful stage performances.

The T3 is a rare combination and others to the likes of Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland, Kate Hudson, Richard Gere, Demi Lovato, Daniel Day-Lewis, Kevin Bacon, Selena Gomez, Jamie Foxx, Christopher Walken, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Matthew Broderick throughout their careers have all celebrated their talents being able to excel in acting, dancing, and singing all rolled into a single person. Talent in any of these three areas is hard enough to achieve with one arts discipline let alone packaged together to achieve a one man/one woman show.

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