Friday, August 16, 2013

We've Got Magic To Do!

Let me just say that I love the revival of Pippin!  From the moment the intro to "Magic to Do" started and Patina Miller slithered out on stage, I've been in love.  So a few months ago, after seeing the show, I decided I wanted to play the role of Leading Player.  Who wouldn't?  I knew that the national tour would be going out in 2014 and I wanted to start getting prepared to audition when the time came.  So I started learning the music, got the audition sides, and figured over the course of the year I would be able to get myself together. Well Surprise! About a month ago I got called in to audition for the Leading Player understudy!

This was my first time going in for any understudy role and I did everything I could do to prepare with the limited amount of time I had.  I felt good about what I was able to work on, but as I walked into the audition building my nerves were still at a level ten!  I got to the audition room and there were about twenty girls waiting to audition as well.  The audition started with us learning the famous Fosse-choreographed Manson Trio.  I had learned a bit of it before, at my ensemble auditions for Pippin, but the entire beginning of the combination was new.  With all of the stylized and nuanced movement, the whole group took quite a while to learn the combo.  

After everyone felt somewhat comfortable, we moved on to a second combination.  This time from the number "The Right Track".  This time the choreography was much faster, but a lot more free and fun.  The tempo proved to be a problem for many because it is so hard to learn something new and then have to perform it at lightening speed! Your brain feels like it won't fire fast enough!  However, I managed to learn it well enough and then it was time to go in trios.  Each group performed the Manson Trio combination followed directly by  The Right Track combo.  When it was my turn to go, I just had a great time, focused on the style, and tried not to forget anything.  I felt good about myself and was kept to sing and read sides.

"The Right Track" combo starts at 2:44

They kept about half the girls, maybe slightly more and we each went in one at a time to sing and read sides.  I had a long time to wait before it was my turn and sometimes,  sitting down and waiting with everyone else makes me MORE nervous and I get into my head.  So instead I found an empty audition room and sang through the songs, walked the halls, and stood in my "power poses" until it was my turn.  Once inside the room I sang "Magic To Do" which went directly into the opening scene sides, and then finished by singing "Simple Joys".  I did my best, had a good time, and tried to just show who I was to casting.  After finishing everything I was told I did a "great job today", smiled, and left. 

Now,  I was not invited to final callback but I feel extremely proud of what I put out there.  It may not have been 100% perfect and ready but it was a step in the right direction.  I am so happy to see myself continuing to grow and hope that next time this opportunity roles around I will be even better!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

After Midnight

Remember that time when I flew in on a red-eye from Puerto Rico for an audition?  Only to discover it was basically an open call and to get cut 30 minutes after I got there....yeah.

Broadway 4D

There is always something so nerve-racking about your first audition back after a long hiatus.  The waiting, learning new choreography, the judgement.  It's such a hard adjustment after finally getting to relax and enjoy your role in telling the same story eight times a week.

So I found myself back in "the room" auditioning for something slightly unusual, a movie.  Broadway 4D as it is being called, will be a "4D" movie played in Time's Square that showcases many of the most iconic musical numbers of the genre.  I had been called in for the Rob Ashford choreographed section "Lullaby of Broadway."  The choreography was an adorably stylized showgirl number.  It blended the traditional Golden Age style of dance with a modern use of  musicality, resulting in a smooth-flowing combination that was punctuated throughout by sharp and often pushed movements.  And of course included a whacked side tilt, a kick to the face, and a double attitude turn.  (I've been noticing an attitude turn trend lately.  Whats up with that? They're no fun.)

The combination was lots of fun overall and despite the sweaty heat-stroke inducing July audition room I managed to remember all of it and perform, a victory in and of itself for my fist audition back.  After everyone danced, six of us were asked to dance again and we were obviously the tall ladies in the room!  They then made a cut, keeping a group of shorter girls to partner and asking us tallies to return in a couple of hours.  When we returned we were slated and filmed doing the combination for the choreographer who was in London and that was it.

Its good to be back.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Broadway Debut That Never Was

Remember this post? One Last Time for Stro...again Well what I didn't say is that I ended up booking this workshop!  I spent a privileged and glorious month workshopping and rehearsing the brand new musical Big Fish with the likes of Susan Stroman, Andrew Lippa, and John August.  I sang and danced and tumbled my face off.  I fell in love with the story these wonderful people created and a cast that was amazing beyond measure.  I had a contract that gave me "right of first refusal", which means they had to offer me the role next time they did the show or pay me thousands of dollars.  I planned my life around this show, which was to be my broadway debut.  I stopped going to auditions for shows that would have conflicted with Big Fish and I went out on tour because I knew I would be back in a few short months.

And then, I was fired.

Now, I have debated long and hard about how, when, and even if I should share what happened to me.    This business can, at times, be brutal and judgmental and I feared that by sharing something so personal people would think less of me.  I still fear that, but I offer my experience up anyways because I started this blog to help people see what being in this business is really like and unfortunately crushing disappointment and defeat is a part of it too.

How did I end up jobless? Well, to be honest I don't exactly know.  After the workshop ended there was radio silence for several months and then some of my fellow cast members started getting offers for the Chicago out of town tryout that occurred this past April.  As the weeks went by I never received an offer.  I frantically contacted anyone I could to see what was happening, fellow cast-mates  my agent, but in the end all I received was a check in the mail.  As though money could somehow soften the blow of losing my broadway debut.  I don't think I've ever been so unhappy to get paid.

So I took my checks went into my room and screamed at the top of my lungs for a good ten minutes.  In the days, heck months, that followed I doubted myself, my talents, and God's plan for my life.  I cried countless tears.  I tried to come up with the Why I now know I'll never get.  In the end I didn't fit into the final picture they saw for the show and I had to accept that.  Does it still hurt? Of course.  Do I think it had to do with my talent, performance, or work ethic during the workshop? No. Have I learned some really hard lessons about counting chickens/putting eggs all in the same basket? You bet.

Eventually I have been able to find some semblance of peace.  I got to see Big Fish in Chicago while touring with Anything Goes and, while the ache of rejection still stung, I was and am so incredibly proud to have been a part of its creation.  The cast and creative team are filled with some pretty amazing people and I sincerely hope Big Fish takes Broadway by storm this fall.  They deserve it.

*sidenote: This post may seem like its coming from a completely emotionally stable and mature individual, but it is also being written six months after the fact.  Only just now have I finally managed to get some perspective on the whole situation.  Up until a couple of months ago you would have found me ranting like a lunatic about the whole thing.  So yeah.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Final Callbacks for Anything Goes

I went in to the final callback of Anything Goes, my 4th audition of that week, a complete mix of emotions.  On one hand I had a great audition for them the week before.  On the other hand, I had blown my Chaplin singing callback the previous day, which had completely shaken my singing confidence.  At the final callback there were twenty-three girls left, only 4 of them tall, and I was the only one of color.  Couldn't get much better odds since there are only 2 tall dancer girl tracks in the show.

We were all led into the room and led through a review of the two combinations we had learned previously.  Plus, we learned a short graboff tap break that we would need to do one at a time for Kathleen and the rest of the creatives.  We had to wait a bit after the review for the creative team to get here, but once they arrived we started right away.  I was in the first group to dance because I had another audition to get to.

I danced the first combination which went well and eventually also danced the 2nd tap combination.  I nailed all the sounds on my graboff break and once all the girls danced it was time to sing.  Because I had to leave so quickly I was the first girl to sing too!  No time to get myself together, but on the other hand no time to start getting in my head either.  I sang my song, "Oh Diogenes", for them and Kathleen Marshall told me it was an "awesome audition song".  Thats some good feedback!  I was expecting to have to sing my second soprano song, but Kathleen looked over at the music director who shook his head no and she said that was all they needed to see.  I was a little thrown off by this, but he had been in the room the week before so maybe he didn't need to hear me sing it again?  There wasn't much time to dwell on it anyways, because I was running off to audition for Into The Woods!

After waiting almost two weeks, I just found out today that I booked it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

White Christmas National Tour

Last week was the start of what would be my record-breaking seven audition week.  So to start the week off right, I got up early in the morning to attend an invited call for the national tour of White Christmas.  Now, if you happen to remember my last posting on the White Christmas audition, I stated that it was the toughest tap audition I'd ever been to.  Well, I think that award now belongs to the tap audition for Big Fish, but still WC is no joke.

We started the day off by learning a brief 32 tap combination, which had to be done one at a time.  I didn't have too much difficulty with it tap wise, but the nerves of having to tap by yourself can cause anyone to mess up.  Luckily my solo went fine and I made the first cut.  Next, we had to learn an actual tap combination from the opening number of the show.  We only learned a portion of it and the steps themselves weren't difficult.  The real difficulty was the speed at which they taught the combo. They told us they teach it that speed to test if we could learn the entire show in only eight days.  Once we learned it and reviewed it a few times we did the combination three at a time.  Unlike my previous WC audition I did not mess up!  They made another cut and then asked us to come back and dance for Randy Skinner in a couple of hours.

I returned back to White Christmas, after running to another audition, and Randy Skinner was there to watch us dance.  We added on to the tap choreography we learned previously and the second portion of the combination had jumping and more rhythmic difficulty than the first part, but was taught just as fast.  When it was time to do the combination three at a time, I discovered I was in the first group so NO time to practice!  Each group got a chance to do the combination twice in a row and once everyone was done another cut was made!  We are up to three cuts now if you are keeping track!

Those of us that made the third cut, changed into our heels, and started to learn a jazz combination.  It was a beautiful 1950's style jazz number, with fast feet, and a calm upper-body.  I loved dancing it and picked it up pretty quickly which was good since I was now obviously going to be dancing in the first group from here on out.  After everyone performed this combination for Randy he made another cut.  Cut #4!  Then we put our tap shoes back on and learned a completely different but much shorter second tap combination.  After we danced it in groups, we were done!  No more cuts and no singing for the day!  Hooray!

Binder Casting called me the next day to come back in and sing at the end of the week (making it the infamous audition #7).  I decided to dress a little bit the part and wore this adorable vintage dress I bought in Sacramento during the Young Frankenstein tour with black patent leather flats.  Sometimes when I go in to sing for shows that aren't "tall shows" I will try to avoid sky high heels so they don't think I'm a giant.  I sang "Oh Diogenes" for them and was asked if I could sing legato.  I told them "yes", and was going to offer to sing something else but the accompanist was handing me my book so I just let it go.  I felt really good about this audition, but I also know that I most likely won't book the gig.  They usually hire the same people year after year and so unless the track I'm right for opens up, my name will just get filed away for future reference.  Still, a good way to end my record breaking week!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Anything Goes National Tour pt. 2

In January I went to the open call for the national tour of Anything Goes.  If you'd like to read about it please go here.   Four months later, I had the opportunity to go back in for another round of auditions for the tour.  Which is just an example of how unpredictable the casting of shows can be.  You never know if you've been cut or they are just waiting until later to call you in.

The audition started out with the jazz combination we learned in January from the song "Blow Gabriel Blow" and then a cut was made.  I was kept and then we put our tap shoes on to learn a tap combination!  Yay!  Of course the combination was from the shows title number "Anything Goes".  It was a classic style tap number, only 64 counts long and the difficulty was not too bad.  The combination consisted primarily of back essences, grab offs, buck triple time steps and cramp rolls. I'm apologize if you don't know the tap vocabulary.  After learning it as a large group we began to do it three at a time.  I nailed the combination and the grab offs they made each person do alone.  After everyone danced they made another cut and those of us that were left now had to sing.

I actually debuted a new song at this audition called "Oh Diogenes".  It is a classic Rodgers and Hart song and perfectly suited to audition for this type of show.  It is a little longer of a song, at 32 bars, than the usual 16-bar cut I sing most of the time.  The song went pretty well and I was asked to sing a second contrasting song.  I chose to sing "Simple Little Things" which is starting to become my go to second/soprano song.  After I got done singing everyone behind the table looked happy and generally entertained which was nice.  A few days later I received an appointment for final callbacks the following week!

*Unrelated Thought*

Thus far in my auditioning I've noticed three different faces people generally have behind the table.

1. The person who smiles no matter what.  They will keep smiling even if you sing off key, crash and burn with the accompanist, etc.  Of course that can lead them to look a little like a crazy person sometimes. LOL
2.  The person who gives you the dead stare no matter what.  You could be Idina Menzel in the audition room and they will just stare at you like they have heard it all before.  No smiling ever.
3.  The person who actually seems to be reacting to what you are singing.  They are along for the ride with you.  They might not actually be smiling but they are into it.

Obviously, my personal preference is to sing for person #3, followed by #1, and lastly #2.  Person #2 has a tendency to unsettle me when I'm singing, which can make me nervous and thus mess up my audition.

*Unrelated Thought End*