Stay at home challenge: Milène van der Smissen, alumna Music Theatre

Read here our interview with Codarts Music Theatre alumna Milène van der Smissen about her new concept: the boot concert!

Alumna Milène van der Smissen (28)
Which study programme did you follow at Codarts?
The preparatory course Music Theatre & the Bachelor Music Theatre.
When did you graduate?

Codarts Alumna Milene van der Smissen
Codarts Alumna Milene van der Smissen

What did you like about studying at Codarts?

‘I liked the study programme Music Theatre very much and I learned a lot from it. We had an all-girls class, which wasn’t always easy, but on the other hand it provided nice opportunities.’

What projects did you enjoy during your study?

‘Pff… We did so many, and it’s been a while. I do remember enjoying the character research in the second year. And the performance of our own production of Little Women, despite the fact that the creative process was quite difficult. Then, if the end result is good, it is even more satisfying. The musical in the third and fourth year was also great to be part of.’

What have you been doing in your career after you graduated?

‘Many different things, actually. I’ve been away from home for nine months, working on a cruise ship as a singer and dancer. After that I was in a theatre production of Sesame Street and in Charlie Chaplin the musical. I also did a lot of production work. For instance, for Codarts, at the production department of Music Theatre, where I did a number of projects. Normally, I also sing in cover bands and for the Diva foundation, performing in the common rooms of care facilities for people suffering from dementia. Right now, I should be working on a cruise ship again, but unfortunately that was cancelled due to the current circumstances.’

Now, in this Corona crisis, you came up with a new concept: The Boot Concert. What gave you the idea?

‘As a matter of fact, I already had a similar idea a couple years ago: to visit people or companies and deliver a special musical message, for example on the occasion of an anniversary or birthday. And I did so a few times with a vocal group that originated at Codarts. And a couple of weeks ago, while riding my bicycle, I was thinking about what to do with my time and I remembered this idea of delivering songs on location, on a tour. And all of a sudden, I thought: Boot Concert! It’s accessible and it’s immediately clear what it is. All I need is a car, a music box, and a microphone. The aim is to touch people emotionally or put someone in the limelight, especially in these times. I want to sing spring into people’s hearts.’

How did you start?

‘A couple of weeks ago, I asked a friend to take a spontaneous photo and began to pitch the idea. I started in Brabant, where my parents live. I toured around there for a day, visiting a number of people in my network. This started the ball rolling and by word-of-mouth the idea reached people outside my own network, so that’s great. Meanwhile, I’ve done a few tours in various places.’

How does it work exactly?

‘On my website I announce where I’ll be on a given day and people can put in a request for me to come and sing for someone. Before I go, I send them a list of my repertoire and they can choose songs in various showers. And if they have a special request and tell me well in advance, I can even practice a new song.

I am now also looking into the possibility of going to one specific location on request, but I have to decide on a good business model first. The initial success took me by surprise a little, actually, so I must take my time to finetune the concept. Then I can really deliver custom-made performances. It’s certainly an option, so people shouldn’t hesitate to contact me.’

And are all the people you visit enthusiastic?

‘So far, yes, fortunately. Most people are a little overwhelmed at first, but they do appreciate the gesture. Sometimes the neighbours will come out and you find yourself performing for ten people. It’s very versatile and especially personal. Unlike when you’re on a stage, you are now really singing for this one person, which makes it personal and interactive.’

Do you intend to continue these Boot Concerts when this crisis is over?

‘Absolutely! I just love doing it! I even bought another domain name and created an extra page on my own website. I think it is an idea that will work anytime, whether you do it from the boot of your car or step into someone’s garden like a modern-day troubadour. It’s always a nice surprise.’

For more information, check out: 

Or send an email to: