Thursday, July 28, 2011

Carrie the Musical

I'm so behind on blogging about auditions!  July has been a crazy month of auditions, class, and odd little projects.  But, the inspiration for last weeks post came from the equity chorus call for Carrie the Musical.  This 80s musical went down in history as a colossal flop, but is currently being reworked for an off broadway revival.  There are pretty much no youtube clips to go off of, so I had no idea what to expect at this chorus call. 

Now, this audition happened THREE weeks ago, so forgive me if the details are a little fuzzy.  It was a lovely 10am audition, which for most people might seem like a perfectly reasonable time for an audition, but I HATE morning auditions.  My life doesn't have a set schedule which means I usually wake up at 10am.  Forcing me awake a full 2 hrs earlier (and I still cut it close) so that I can get dressed cute, warm up my voice, and get to an audition at 9:30am is just torture.   As I roled into the audition at about 9:45 of course there were already a bunch of girls there. 

I always find it interesting to people watch while I wait to go into the audition room.  The responsible people were warming up and stretching (yeah..not me), others were busy gabbing away with friends (shyly raises hand), some were out trying to catch a glance into the audition room to see the combination, and the rest were keeping to themselves (me when I started this whole audition game).  There were people are wearing leotards and dance shoes, some are completely 80s, and everyone in between.  I myself had chosen to wear a pair of capris, a tank, and my favorite purple converse.  Trying to look  youthful, without dressing for the part.  See previous entry.

After waiting for about an hour, its my turn to go into the room.  The choreographer, Matt Williams takes some time to explain the musical to us and we then begin to learn the choreography.  Whoa!  First the combination is from the scene where all the teens are at the dance and Carrie unleashes havoc on everyone.  So there was a lot of acting like you had just seen the most horrific event of your life and also a move where we got to pretend we were levitating! Second, have you seen this clip from the Fresh Prince of Belair?

Ok, so it wasn't THAT bad, but still.  The choreographer basically taught us the ENTIRE combination, which had several changes of direction, and even included skipping in one take.  Then after he had gone through it said "Does anyone have any questions?"  I swear I've never seen so many hands shoot up so fast.  So after clarifying all the walking patterns, counts, and directional changes, it was time for the judging tables to come out.  I had a few small mistakes when it came to timing but other than that it wasn't too bad; however, sometimes you can just tell you're not being watched.  You glance over at the table and you never see any eyes on you.  Its a disheartening realization to have in the middle of a combination, but there is really nothing you can do about it.  After finishing the combo, I waited to be cut, and that was it.

P.S. Yes I just REALLY wanted to have that clip from the Fresh Prince in there.  I loved the original Aunt Viv!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Audition Outfit

What should I wear today?  This question plagues many people on the planet every time the sun rises.    Yet somehow, as a performer going on auditions, the decision holds a lot more weight than just being cute for the day.  Now, I do not subscribe to the idea that you must go in costume or even dress for the show you are auditioning for.  You will see me in the exact same outfit at almost every audition, a bright colored leotard/tank top and my trusty black skort.  I'll be wearing that at Annie, Wicked, Oklahoma, Young Frankenstein ;) , get the picture.  I truly believe that if you can dance it doesn't matter what you wear.  If you are right for the role AND can dance it REALLY doesn't matter what you wear.  There are only two instances where I think that an outfit can make or break it at an audition. 

The first instance is when you are borderline right for the role and can dance.  For example, the other day I auditioned for Fame which takes place in h.s. in the 80s.  Now, I am almost 5'9" which means I do NOT read as a high schooler.  So in order to look the part, I wore tennis shoes a t-shirt and my hair in a ponytail.  I dressed younger, like I was in high school, so that I would not be typed out immediately.  So if someone is trying to look younger, older, more ethnic, less ethnic, shorter, taller, etc.  then yes consider your outfit.  However, if you cannot get the choreography this will not help you in the least.

The second instance is when the audition is for something so specific that it is well known what you should wear, i.e. The Rockettes, A Chorus Line, Mama Mia, Rock of Ages, etc.  For the Rockettes and A Chorus Line you need to show up in a leotard, tights, and a heel.   NOTHING else.  Linda Haberman and Baayork Lee do not play and they do not want anything breaking up your lines like pants or *gasp* shorts.  Baayork nearly had a heart attack when a girl wore shorts in her chorus line audition.   For Mamma Mia they want you in street clothes, don't come in a leotard and a Laduca they will not appreciate it.

Those two instances are the primary cases where you need to craft a specific look for your audition, but again they will never make up for poor technique and if you are fantastic enough they won't keep you from getting hired.  I have seen a girl in a unitard and ballet shoes make a Rockette cut simply because she was good, but that is the exception and not the rule and most of the time you will not be the exception.  So, do not go out and buy anything for a specific audition.   Make do with what you have and let's all focus on the dancing and not the fashion.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Superfly the Musical

A few weeks ago, I had a particularly rough week of auditions.  Following the Fame and Chaplin auditions, I auditioned for the workshop of Superfly the Musical.  The new musical is set to show life in 1970's Harlem using music from the era and is directed and choreographed by the legendary Bill T. Jones, choreographer for Fela! The audition was held at the Alvin Ailey studios (my old stomping grounds), which was an unusual setting for a musical audition in the first place and an indicator of things to come.

First they split the audition by having the "Harlem Beauties" come in the morning and the "Priest's Girlfriend/Caucasion Streetwalkers" come in the afternoon.  Yes, they really did split the audition along those lines.  I arrived in the morning, being the Harlem Beauty that I am (sorry couldn't help myself)  and got a chance to catch up with some of the kids from Ailey which was really nice.  The girls at the audition ran the entire spectrum.  There were girls from The Ailey School there, girls from the Alvin Ailey company (!) and then girls that I usually see at musical theatre auditions.  Given the population I was extremely curious what I was in for.

The equity girls were called into the room and greeted by the fabulous Bill T. Jones himself.  He was extremely kind and ridiculously fit!  He started the audition by having us learn two phrases, as we repeated the phrases again and again, he would lead in the front and then switch one of the phrases and we were to learn it and repeat.  It was actually really difficult because while you were dancing you were expected to be watching and learning at the same time, then to dance it right after.  We were all struggling!  I thought that that was probably the first cut, but it wasn't.  It was the warm up!  He then, had us all walk through the center of the room at the same time.  We were to just keep walking and going through the center of the room.  So that he could see how we moved.  Then finally we learned a combo.  It was very much modern dance, had no counts, and though the music was in eights we were not to dance with the music!

Sigh, I hate being out of place at auditions.  It rarely happens to me, but when it does the feeling is discouraging.  Now this was not like the wicked combo, where I was having a hard time getting the movement in my body.  I learned the combo fine, but the timing was just not something I could adjust to.  My body needs counts!  So we did the combination once and Bill T. Jones goes around making cuts by shaking hands and telling people thanks for coming one by one, and he doesn't eliminate me! Whew.  But the girls that he does cut, he asks if they would like to sing on the spot in front of everyone while doing some movement across the floor... um what?  I'm not even sure if that's OK with equity?  These poor girls after being cut then have to sing their songs in front of us all, while making up their own dance.  Yikes!  We then do the combination again in groups and this time I'm given the boot along with others, but he didn't ask us to sing and I probably would have declined anyways. What an experience!