Monday, February 6, 2012

The Audition Chronicles

I had almost forgotten how auditioning is much like exercising: that, ideally, it should be done regularly and consistently in order to stay in shape. I still get nervous at auditions, especially when singing. I'm a little more relaxed when dancing. I had been to three good auditions in the last month, and one strange one.

I messaged the choreographer-friend of a small, upcoming production of this show near our neighborhood. I asked him, 'Are there any age-appropriate parts that I can audition for?' 'Just come dance!' he included in his reply.
I was glad they were dancing people first, before asking anyone to sing.
The dancing was fun, appropriately stylized for the nostalgic story set in the early 60's. I was invited to callbacks later in the day, to read for the TV host character, "Corny Collins." I took turns singing one of the character's solos from "Nicest Kids in Town" with two other guys called back for the same role, both of them younger than me.
I didn't get the part. I was a little disappointed. Maybe I should've asked to audition for the part of Tracy's father?

Miss Saigon
The dancers' notice said that male dancers should show up to the audition in athletic wear. They were looking for strong, athletic dancers. I interpreted this to mean that they were looking for muscular and physically fit dancers - men who are masculine enough to convincingly play heterosexual soldiers.
No pressure.
Again, I was glad we were dancing first, glad that there was a separate call for dancers-who-sing to be cast in the ensemble. The dance combination started with high marching steps, followed by strong punches, and then leaps and turns. I was panting, trying to pace the flow of oxygen to my body. I was grateful for recent workouts, both for cardio and for lifting weights. I was also grateful that I had swigged a triple shot of espresso before the audition.
I don't think they were wowed by my singing. Still, I felt happy just to be asked to stay and sing. It felt good that I was able to be strong and confident in my dancing. I hope to hear from them. Rehearsals don't start for another two months, so I'm hoping I still have a chance.

The Show that Shall Remain Nameless
I don't want to type any key words in this blog that will wind up in search engines and cause me to be . . . unhidden. Let's just say that I went to an audition in Hollywood, at that place of worship that is the 'ology of Scients. The audition notice stated that the show had nothing to do with that particular place of worship, that it was just using their facility, on their property. All seemed well, at first, as I walked between the immaculately clipped lawns and into their clean, airy lobby. Everyone person I walked past offered me a verbal greeting and a smile. I was the only person in the small theater with the casting director.
The cold reading went well. I was asked to read a monologue and then to improvise the part from memory. I also sang, acapella. I had done well, apparently, well enough to proceed to the next level. I was invited to speak with a staff member upstairs in an office.
I saw the books on the shelves and pamphlets spread out on small tables. I was being introduced to what the place of worship was all about, and how successful acting careers and celebrity status were potentially part of what they were able to offer. Red flags waved madly inside my mind. After a few minutes of polite listening and unflinching eye contact I told the staff person, "I'm going to stop you there. Thank you for your time." I grabbed my bag and walked quickly out of the office. The staff person's voice followed me. "Please do me the courtesy of not walking away from me and at least listen to what I have to say."
I felt claustrophobic, trapped. "This is the strangest audition I've ever been to," I replied. "I'm too nervous to stay."
It took a few hours for me to shake off the nervous, creeped-out feeling. I felt duped.

Last night I attended an open call for the musical Merrily We Roll Along. I don't know the show at all except that it's yet another one by Stephen Sondheim whose music is challenging and substantial. I am not as confident singing the more "legit" vocals of Sondheim, compared to the music of Hairspray or even Miss Saigon, and there was no dance audition. But they asked me to come back next week for call backs, and that always feels good.

I'm getting my audition muscles back in shape. And I did get cast again, in "Geeks! The Musical." I had participated in a staged reading of it last year, and I'll be in the singing ensemble again, for a more fully developed production. Performances will be in Hollywood, during the first three weeks of March.

Stay tuned!


Lori said...

Wow, that um "ology audition" sounds incredibly creepy. I don't know if I'd have been as polite as you we're able to be.

Peter Varvel said...

Lor', yeah, I was kind of shaken up . . . there's lots down here, still, that I bet you DON'T miss LOL.