Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lets Rewind

Admittedly I have been very bad at updating this blog, since it has been a month since I've lasted posted I feel like I cannot just jump you all forward to this exact date and time so we will go back to the end of the rehearsal period and tell you about tech week.

For those non-theater folk reading this, "tech" is a time when the show leaves the rehearsal studio and finally gets into the theater.  You are dealing not just with actors, but also with lighting, sound, props, costumes...the technical aspects of the show hence the name.  Anyways, its also the time when we are allowed to be called to rehearse 10/12 hours in a day.  You want to talk about tired?  I have been in tech rehearsals before but never for a show of this scale and it was completely different.

There was so much to learn: First how to prep my hair for wigs, how to pin the mic pack into my head, how a wig gets pinned into my head..all just for sound.  Second, we get fully dressed in costumes and go stand on stage and start slowly going through the show from the beginning.  Third, "I have how many costumes and they weigh how much?" The costumes in this show, designed by William Ivey Long (click to see just some of the broadway shows he's designed for), are gorgeous but the splendor of them starts to wear off once you've been standing in them for 5 hours straight and you think your going bald because your wig is pulling at your hairline, and your starving because technically your not supposed to eat in costume...

Once we slowly made it through the entire show which took about four days (yes four whole days for a 2.5hr show), we began to run the show, first very haltingly to make sure everything was going smoothly, and soon right through from beginning to end.  Which was great!  After days of standing and slowly walking from one number position to the next you forget that you are actually telling a singular cohesive story.  So getting to do a full run through was a welcome change of pace.

What I've noticed in this process is that the pace is so fast you never get to become too comfortable where you are.  No sooner than we learned the whole show, we were going into tech week, as soon as we staggered through our tech we were doing a full out run through, and after that first attempt..guess who was making an appearance the very next day?  None other than Susan Stroman herself!  The nervousness and butterflies never end.

But seriously, is this actually my life?

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Brain is Full

I have officially been in California rehearsing for the national tour of Young Frankenstein for a week now and my brain is filled to capacity.  Currently are rehearsal schedule is a lovely 7 hours a day 6 days a week and over the course of these past 42 hours, I have learned all the music/harmonies for my part in the show and the cast has completed 4-5 full numbers in the show.  Needless to say by the end of the day my attention span and focus is zero.

However, despite my poor brain turning to mush, I LOVE my new job!  I get to spend all day dancing and singing and I love it so much and we are not even performing yet.  I'm sure by May I will be tired of doing the same show over and over again, but I'm a working professional dancer!

A special added bonus is the amazing group of people I'm getting to work with.  We have only been here 5 days and yet we are all getting along great, hanging out, and having fun with each other like we are old friends.  They are making being away from home a little easier.  However, I think I am getting a complex because I am the shortest girl in the ensemble!  At 5'9" that's a pretty new experience for me and I'm starting to feel like a shorty!

Oh yes, one last thing.  Apparently the studio where we are rehearsing is a pretty big hub for music artists.  So far, Usher and his dancers, Snoop Dogg, and Earth, Wind and Fire have been through here rehearsing for performances.  I haven't had enough gumption to go up and grab pics with any of them but I'm building up the nerve for next time.  Oh and the So You Think You Can Dance kids are here too AND they are staying at our hotel....why are they all like 5'0?

Monday, June 21, 2010

When it Rains it Pours!

Those of you who read my last blog post, know that I landed the Young Frankenstein tour!  What you don't know is that I emailed Radio City on Friday telling them of my other offer and received a call from them today. 

Extending me an offer for the Nashville cast of the Christmas Spectacular!!!!!!! The Rockettes have finally said yes!

I can't believe I can go from having nothing for months, to having to choose between two amazing gigs!  The question now, is just which one do I do.  The Rockettes would be from mid-october to december, but the tour runs from Sept-May.  Do I want to get a chance to sing?  Be one of a few dancers or one of many?

Sigh. What a dilemma!

Friday, June 18, 2010

One last time for Stro

Last week my voice teacher Mr. David Sabella-Mills gave me a homework assignment.  Like he was a regular h.s. teacher David told me to go out and sing my audition song (Waiting for Life to Begin) at one of the open mics around the city before I went to my final callback.  After a failed trip downtown on Monday night, I finally got up the courage to actually sing at Don't Tell Mama's a piano bar in midtown.  unfortunately it took about four drinks for me to get the job done, which meant it was a little hard to get up on Thursday morning.

Thus, I arrived at my 10am audition at 9:45! Of course they were running behind like last time, so I get some credit for not being all out crazy.  Anyways, I walk into the holding room and there are still 14 girls there!  Umm, what happened?  Did they not eliminate anyone the last call back?  Surprisingly enough there were 4 girls there who had never auditioned before!  How? What?  I have to find a way to get on THAT list.

At about 10:30, they call us into the room and review the tap and ballet combinations from before.  No surprises here, except that the pace is very fast.  After the review we head back out into the holding room, and the boys have arrived.   They head into the room to review and us girls wait for Ms. Stroman to arrive.  After quite possibly the longest 30 minutes ever, Ms Stroman arrives and the audition begins.

We start with tap, reviewing the combination once.  Then Stro (as she will henceforth be referred to) gets up in the front and tells us we will be going two at a time.  I get to be in the second group to go.  That may not seem good, but at the other two auditions I was the very last girl to go and THAT is nerve wracking.   Anyways, I do tap combo well, as does everyone else.  At this point everyone knows it so there is no one that isn't good.  Ballet goes pretty much the same.  Stro was so nice, calling all of us out two at a time herself, and telling each group "nice job ladies".  After everyone was done we went out to wait to sing.

The boys went into the room, auditioned, and came out, and now it was singing time!  I had worked on all the corrections that the casting director had requested, performed in front of the public at the open-mic.  All that was left was to do it when it counts.  I go into the room to sing, and there must have been six people, plus the piano player there.  I reviewed the song with him and there was nothing left to do but sing my little heart and try not to be scared.  It went as well as I thought it could and after I was done, Stro said "you had really good audition today"!  Amazing.

Thats it, after three auditions over the course of a week and a half, it was over and all I had to do was wait.

 Oh and today, June 18, 2010,  Tara Rubin Casting called...and I got the JOB!!!!!  The National Tour of Young Frankenstein ensemble and my equity-card!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Young Frankenstein cont.

Tuesday morning, was the morning of the callback for Young Frankenstein.  It was set to begin at 10am and me being my early-arriving self got there at 9:30.  There were several new faces that were not there yesterday and only a few people I recognized from the day before.  Apparently, getting called back from a chorus call gets you into the "Invited Dance Call" which is what other people are just invited to in the first place.

The audition starts out with tap again, only this time its the combination all the equity girls learned yesterday.  I practically run to the front of the room, because I know I'm going to need to be able to see if I want to get this right, but it really didn't matter because the assistant choreographer kept making everyone switch around so we all got a chance to see.  He started teaching the combination and it was fast and a little complicated.  One girl left the audition before he even finished teaching it!

Have you ever studied for an exam and then when you sat down to take it realized it was nothing like you had planned?  You studied straight facts, and suddenly its an essay test?  That's what this was like, but just like when sitting in a surprisingly difficult exam, you have a choice.  Either give up and sit there staring off into space until its over or try to get it together and make sense of what you're looking at.  I literally felt my brain turn on and forced myself to take it all in.  Luckily they let us go over it a couple of times before we had to do it three at a time and I made the cut!

Next we did the same ballet combination from the previous day, so my brain got a break.  They didn't make a cut at this point since there were 13 people left (yes I counted!) .  It was time to sing again,  after doing such an awful job the day before I wanted to practice a bit before I went in but there was no where to do it.  Every time I tried to practice a lovely employee from the studio would tell me not to. Ugh.  I had planned on singing A Little Bit in Love again, but when I got in the room.  I asked the casting director and choreographer what they wanted and they said whatever I was most comfortable with so I completely switched gears and sang Waiting for Life to Begin from Once on This Island.

Surprisingly, the casting director told me how much better this song was than yesterday's!  She also took the time to give me feedback on my performance.  It was the first time anyone had every taken the time to do this and I was extremely grateful.  Still upon leaving I let all hope go out the window.  Its better as a performer to just know you didn't get it when you leave an audition so that its a surprise when you do rather than a disappointment when you don't.

Yet somehow, the next day, I look at my phone and there's a missed call from Tara Rubin casting!  I've been called back again!  This time, the call back is for next week and Susan Stroman is going to be there!  The woman has one FIVE TONYS!! She directed and choreographed The Producers!   This is really quite the opportunity and I'm really excited.  I don't know how many spots there are on the tour..I've heard two females and I don't know how many girls will be there next week.  But this whole experience has been awesome! Wish me luck!

P.S. Please listen to LaChanze sing Waiting for Life to Begin and KNOW that I SOUND NOTHING LIKE THAT.  She sings it a whole step higher than me and she's an icon...that is all.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My First Equity Call Back

Its been a month since I've posted. The month of May was particularly slow, and coupled with all the mental and physical from Radio City I have pretty much been relaxing since then.

On Monday, however, I finally got my butt up and went to an audition. It took a lot of cajoling from my biggest fan, but I got there. It was a call for Young Frankenstein the musical, created by the famous Mel Brooks, it ran on Broadway and now is touring nationally. It is the story of Frankenstein, but told with a humorous plot.

I just made it to the audition at 2pm, and there was not many people there. Granted the call was for girls 5'6" to 5'10", can you say..advantage? Anyways, there were about 30 equity girls there and about 40 non-equity girls. They tell us we will be doing tap first and take the first group of 15 equity girls in. The group takes about 25 minutes and they are apparently teaching the same combination they always teach...which would be great if I knew it, instead I'll be at a distinct disadvantage. Its no fun to be one of the only people to not already know a combination in an audition. The second group of equity girls get their turn and then it is time for the non-eq girls. Given that I was one of the last people to get there I am put in the 2nd group of non-eqs, so I have one more group to wait. I thought I had 25 minutes but as soon as the girls come in, they are coming right back out. It turns out for the non-equity girls they are just doing buck triple time steps. AWESOME!

I get in the room and they go over the time step and then line us all up and we do four time steps each one at a time all the way down the line. Then they made a cut and I was kept. The bring everyone back in the room equity and non-equity and teach us a ballet combination in character heels. Its fairly simple, balances, developpes (kicks) single turn, jete (leap). Its surprising, but you really can tell a lot about a dancer from such a simple combination. They made us go three at a time across the floor and then it was time for another cut. Yay, they keep me again.

Of course now comes my favorite part...the singing. There are about 18/60 girls left and they ask us for a traditional musical theatre song. So I chose to sing "A Little Bit in Love" from the musical Wonderful Town. (see Audra show how its done) It went awful...or at least it felt awful. All over the place register wise, but I gave it and pretty let the audition go, figuring I had blown it.

But when I got home from the audition, my cell rang and it was Tara Rubin casting calling to invite me back the next day for a call back! These people must be out of their minds!? But I graciously accepted and prepared for the next day...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

When in doubt...elbow, wrist, hand

Its that time of year again folks. The Radio City Rockettes held their yearly auditions this year and I have been running all over the country...yes the country. Since the Rockettes hold highly publicized open call auditions every year you can always expect there to be a massive amount of girls from all of the world flying into New York for this one day, and 2010 was no different.

I guess you could say that I take Radio City auditions pretty serious, getting a custom-made leotard, dyeing shoes and tights, training specifically for this type of dancing. Its a little insane, but as I grow more educated in the process, I'm beginning to feel like while it may not be absolutely necessary it definitely doesn't hurt. I believe that if you really want something then you have to approach it like you mean it. (Which is also why I'm reluctant to even post this update in fear of jinxing myself. LOL)

Anyways, on Thurs, Apr. 29, I showed up to Radio City Music Hall at 8:50 am to find a line of girls spanning almost two street blocks. Lots of girls came in groups, but this year I came by myself so I got to spend the next hours amusing myself in line. Now the audition officially started at 10, but it wasn't until 11am that I was close enough to the front door to get the forms every auditionee is required to fill out and discovered that I was #292. Craziness, since the line behind me was equally as long as the line in front of me. Once inside everyone turned in their head-shot and resume and was given time to change, stretch, and apply makeup.

Around 12:30pm, almost 4 hours after I arrived, I was taken into the audition room as the fourth group of girls to be seen. The room was packed as they were seeing 75 girls at a time which meant there wouldn't be a whole lot of space to see. Linda Haberman, the director of the Rockettes began teaching a quick jazz combo and then it was time to do it 3 girls at a time. Then it was time for cuts.

(Sidenote, Linda is the first female director of the Rockettes and has taken them to a new level of technicality and amazingness. She is however also intimidating and a bit scary.)

After making the first cut we were taken into the red room for height measurements and to wait until everyone had been seen before we could continue on to the next round. Finally at about 3pm, the remaining girls went back into the room and we added more choreography onto the original combination. Again we performed three at a time and a cut was made. Despite the fact that I swear Linda continued to make funny faces at me, I was allowed to continue on. Next was tap, thank goodness, and it was a simple routine with no arms, and a lot of basic time steps and breaks. It was more all about keeping the rhythm than anything else. After getting through that it was one more round of cuts, and then the girls that were left were invited back for call backs the next day. By this time of the 500 girls that tried out about 36 were left and I was one of them. Yay!

As Friday morning rolled around, I realized how exhausted I was from the week, but I had to get myself over to Radio City anyways. Today they would be videotaping the girls as we added more onto both tap and jazz combinations from Thursday, learned a new jazz combo, and did the famous eye high kicks. I couldn't help but feel off my game and unfocused for the first part of the morning. I felt like the judges were giving me weird/judgmental looks and allowed it to affect my confidence, but still put in a decent performance and since no cuts were made I technically made it to the end. We were told at this point that she would be making decisions by end of May/beg of June and that was it.

Now, since I'm borderline obsessive about somethings, I had already bought a ticket to Los Angeles in case I didn't make it all the way through in New York, I took sometime over the weekend to get some corrections on the audition material and then jetted off to L.A. Sunday afternoon. The audition process was the same, only that just 200 girls showed up out there. I made it to the last 31 or so girls out there and feel like I did a lot better. No more real/imagined looks from those running the auditions and a lot more focus...shout out to Red Bull! So now we will just wait and see. I hope I get it. *smiles, prays, crosses fingers*

Monday, April 26, 2010

And We're Back!

Today was the audition for the national tour of A Chorus Line. The national tour has been running equity for the past couple of years, but will soon be turning non-eq, presumably to save money. So today Binder Casting held an open non-equity call for female dancers.

With the call scheduled to start at 10:30, I arrived at 9:15 and had the pleasure of being #159. Joy. Luckily they started early and they decided to type. Now, typing is when a large group of guys/girls go into the room at the same time, and the casting director or choreographer, will have them do something simple (like turns) and then make a cut. Often times they are just looking for basic technique and more importantly the "look" of the characters they are casting.

Anyways, they took groups of 35 girls in at a time, and after waiting about an hour my group went in the room. Of course who should be in the room running the audition? The one and only Baayork Lee (see photo)! She is THE ORIGINAL Connie in A Chorus Line and she is just ridiculously amazing. As soon as we got in the room she just started walking up to people saying "Don't wear shorts to an audition!" "You need more lipstick" "You need more makeup!" It was hilarious and not done in a mean way at all, just very matter of fact. I could tell at that moment that this was going to be very interesting. So Ms. Baayork lines all of us up and then one by one we do double pirouettes(turns) on both the right and left side and that was it! The first cut was made and Ms. Lee tells all of us on the way out, "If you got cut, get to ballet class!"

I was kept to the next round and had to wait around for another 90 min to two hours to dance again. This time we learned the combination that Chorus Line was known for, I Hope I get It (Full Combo Starts at 1:03) It was a shortened version, but it was fast, sharp, and had to be very precise. Ms. Lee wanted hands in an exact spot and stated that she wanted the combination done exactly as she showed it, no variations. Several times while going through it, she would say "I'm teaching this too fast, you all are not getting it!" It was never intimidating though, it just made you want to work harder. After finally getting the combination we had to do the combination two at a time across the floor, just to tire you out and then you had to do it two at a time for the actual audition. There was so much energy in the room it was just amazing! When it was my turn to dance across the floor I tried to make sure that I hit every count and really perform it with the intensity it needed and I made the next cut.

Crazily enough the day was still not over, we were all told to come back at 4pm to sing. Oh singing, my arch nemesis, why must you rear your ugly head ALL the time? Now I had picked a song to sing with my voice teacher because I had been intending to go for Sheila. Now Sheila is an older Broadway vet auditioning for the Chorus and she has quite a bit of attitude. She is the first singer in At the Ballet. So I sang a song with more "gravitas" as my teacher would say and after all that prepping and planning the casting director asks me if I can sing something else!..."something a little lighter" So I pick my go to Waiting for Life and all I get is a "Thank you, have a good day". Crap. I've been cut. Really? Really? For once I thought I didn't do too bad and still nothing.

Ah well, despite being there from 9:15am to 5:30pm, and receiving nothing, I did get to spend the day with an awesome lady AND I obviously didn't sing too bad since they wanted to hear me sing some more. So I'll keep going back to the drawing board until I find something that works.