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*

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pippin pt. 2

Part two of my Pippin adventure occurred last week, when I was called back in to dance and sing again.  The girls were scheduled to begin at 11am but they were running behind so they lumped us into the boys group at 11:45.  Unfortunately there were a massive amount of boys at the call, so it ended up being a fairly large group of us squeezed into the audition room.  Now, I had hoped that we were only coming in to dance the Manson Trio again, but I was not to be so lucky on that Tuesday!  Instead we learned an entirely new Fosse number that was ten times more energetic.  The combo was from a section of the show where the cast is teaching Pippin about "the birds and the bees."

After learning the combination we performed it two at a time and I must admit I had a lot of fun.  I also danced it pretty well and made it past the next cut.  I was feeling pretty happy with myself but I had no idea the catastrophe that was in store later.

We were told to come back at 2pm so that everyone could sing for the creative team, but things got started late and there were still too many people left.  The casting director told us that we would be signing 16 bars of our own music, but then it was decided that we would be singing "Morning Glow", music from the audition sides we got.   Now that would not have been a problem if I had bothered to learn it!  But somehow I didn't think that we needed to know the song and so I spent my entire 90 minute wait freaking out, trying to learn a brand new song, and finally deciding to just sing from my book.  Unfortunately instead of singing "Don Juan", which got me called back the first time, I tried to switch to singing "Come Down From the Tree" because I felt it was more in the style of "Morning Glow".  Well, I walked into the audition room, explained my song to the pianist and then he started playing my ballad as an UPTEMPO song!  Can you say crash and burn!  I actually had to stop in the middle of the song and ask to start over because I was not singing with the music.  I have NEVER had to do that EVER!  Needless to say it was the worst singing audition I've had in a really long time.  I was cut immediately and that was the end of that!  What a very long day.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

I Wanna Be A Producer!

This summer Atlanta's Theater of the Stars (TOTS) is putting on Mel Brook's and Susan Stroman's hit musical The Producers.  As with most summer stock theaters, auditions usually start with an EPA equity principal audition, where people audition for all the shows that a theater is doing for the summer.  I attended the EPA for TOTS about two months ago where I sang "Don Juan" for them and was told that I would be called back when TOTS was casting for The Producers.

Well, two months later I found myself at a callback for the show with several other girls.  Most of whom I knew and a few who had done the show already.  The call started at 2pm and I was unaware that I had a full day of dancing ahead of me!  We started off learning a number called "Springtime for Hitler" which was a musical theater jazz combo from "the show within the show."  The combo was quick and contained some abstract Nazi imagery, presented in a satirical way of course.  After we learned it we performed the combination three at a time, but no cuts were made.  We then got a chance to do a brief showgirl combination, that pretty much consisted of each girl doing her best Las Vegas showgirl walk across the audition room alone, but I discovered that my showgirl walks needed work!

At this point after two jazz combinations, we put on our tap shoes to learn a tap number from the show.  We were supposed to be showgirls at a party, but as the night goes on the showgirls slide down the road to intoxication!  It was fun and funny; especially, getting to see how everyone else in the room interpreted the drunkeness. I love getting to watch people's creativity in auditions.  Once this third combination was learned and done three at a time, I thought for sure we were done dancing, but we had one combination left in store!  We changed into flats and then learned a combination from "Till Him" which is done towards the end of the show.  We all had to pretend to be old ladies who were falling in love for the first time in a long time.  Hilarity ensued as everyone gave their best grandma impression, while still having to remember a tricky combination, and having to improvise a section at the end.  Phew!  A serious day of dancing to say the least.

Those four combos wiped everyone out, but we still had to sing.  I sang....can you guess? Yes, "Don Juan" and then the people behind the table told me I had a "very good audition today".  Always a good sign!  I heard from my agent that I am "on hold" for the show.  Just like with what happened with Nice Work if You Can Get It.  Basically, they have offered the role out to someone else, but they really like me.  So if a spot opens up in the next month, I may find myself in Atlanta!  No complaints here!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pippin @ American Repertory Theatre

Pippin, the 1970's musical originally directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, is being revived at Boston's American Repertory Theatre.  I was called in to audition a few weeks ago and arrived just in time to change and run into the audition room.  Given that we were auditioning for a Fosse show, I decided to wear my favorite black unitard that makes me feel like I could be in All That Jazz/Fosse/Chicago.  After a few minutes of waiting for them to finish principal auditions in another room we started learning a combination from a number called the Manson Trio.

The Trio starts at 2:30

Since I had never seen the show before, it was all new material for me, but it was all very stylized.  Lots of very specific hand and hip movements and I was in love!  I wish I could explain how much I love Fosse's work.  It just connects with me.  Anyways, everyone learned the combo and then it was time to do the usual, dancing three at a time for the casting associate and assistant choreographer.  I had a great time doing the combo and I thought I did a pretty good job at it.  There was a cut was made and I was kept!  The other girls who made the cut and I were told to come back at 2pm to dance again and sing for the head casting agent, Duncan Stewart.  This was tough for me as I was supposed to be on a flight that afternoon, so I ran home, packed in a hurry, and dragged all my stuff back to audition again.

Unfortunately, when I got there they were running a bit behind.  When the boys were finally done in the room, we girls got a chance to review the combination and then we danced it again for casting.  After that we all stayed and sang; I had to ask to be put at the front of the group so I could make my flight.  I sang "Don Juan" my go to song and then ran off to the airport where I barely made my plane!