Monday, March 7, 2011

The Audition Game

Here's another one of my secrets: I suck at auditioning.  I'm being completely honest.  I used to audition for things all the time in college.  I would show up for every musical with a song ready to sing, and then not get picked.  In fact, for most of the musicals in college, theater majors were picked.  That's because the theater department ran most of the musicals on campus.  I never auditioned in high school for the musicals because I was involved in the Theater Department.  The theater department and vocal department were two serperate things in high school.  It was the same in college, except the theater department controlled all of the musicals.
I remember auditioning for a part in a church musical when I was about twelve, maybe a little older.  They had held two weekends of auditions.  I went on the second weekend.  Well, my audition was interrupted by call backs!  I'm serious. People were showing up for call backs before the first set of auditions were even completed. I was pretty upset by this.  I think my mother complained about it to the director, and he just told her, "We had to change our schedule!"  Then, about a month later, so many people had quit, they called and asked me to be in the chorus.  Their way to entice me was, "You'll get a free dress made for you!"  Really?! I politely turned them down! 
In college, I would get so nervous, show up with my prepared 16-20 measures, sing my song, read my lines, and then feel completely horrible afterwards.  I wouldn't even get called back most of the time.  I would see all of the theater majors, the ones that didn't even really sing, get called back and then get the parts.  I love musical theater. I have always loved it, yet, I haven't really done much of it in my life.  I mean, a little part here and there, but that's it. 
I finally made it into the chorus of the "Mikado" which was actually done by the vocal department.  Most of the female lead rolls went to Theater majors again.  Most of the chorus was vocal majors.  The men were mostly vocal majors, except they had a few from the theater department. I really enjoyed performing in this light opera. We also performed this in full kabuki make-up.  I now see that as kind of wierd. I kind of remember a guy who started our as our director, who had made the decission about the make-up. He then dissappeared and wasn't our director anymore.  Then, a person from the vocal department and a person from the music department took over directing.  This part is a bit of a blur in my mind. 
After the "Mikado," I kept myself busy with other things.  Since I was a member of the school's Music Industry Association and Sigma Alpha Iota, I found a lot of other things to do.  One of the biggest things was MIA held a Battle of the Bands every semester.  I worked my way up that ladder with being the band liason  at first.  Then, after a few semesters of that, I was in charge of the whole event.  I learned a lot more working with the Battle of the Bands events then I probably would have doing roles in musicals.
When I moved back to Indianapolis I met back up with some friends that I knew from college.  They were all doing community theater shows around the area.  So, I thought I would start auditioning for things again.  My first local auditioning experience was with a theater on the south east side.  The director kept telling me, "Come on out! Audtion for my show!"  I went out and bought the CD for the show so I would know what the music sounded like and what type of show it was.  It was type of show that was slit your wrist depressing.  I got there.  I was prepared.  I had rehearsed my 20 measures of song repeatedly until I thought it was close to perfect.  Well, about 100 other people were there auditioning.  I was a bit dumbfounded.  On top of that, we had to audition in front of everybody and wait for every body else to sing before we could read the lines.  And that was the first night of auditions.  Well, that's about five hours of my life I will never get back.  Obviously, I didn't get any role.  Afterward, the director's friend just kept telling me, "Sometimes, everybody just wants to do the same  show!"
The next audition I did was for "Little Shop of Horrors" at Civic theater on the west side of town.  I just auditioned because my friends encouraged me to.  I came with "Part of Your World"  all ready to go.  Well, there weren't that many female roles, so, I wasn't expecting to get a part and I didn't. 
A little later that year I auditioned for the "Wizard of Oz."  Now, I did this on the eve of my 30th birthday.  I walk in, get my number and picture taken.  I couldn't think of what to sing, so, I just took the LDS children's hymnal with me.  I would just sing part of "A Child's Prayer." Well, while I was sitting in the wings with other people, the audition monitor was chatting us all up.  She comes to me and says, "What part are you auditioning for?"  I told her, "I would love to be Glenda, but I'm here to audition for the chorus."  She then proceeds to tell me that I look like I would be the perfect Auntie Em.  That I have the face for that role... Now, being that I wasn't even thirty yet, I looked at her in disbelief and said, "I turn 30 tomorrow!"  She tried to apologize, but it wasn't believable.  I was just in shock!  Most people tell me, I look like I'm a teenager!   She tried to explain to me that I had the "type of face" that it would be easy to make up as an older person.  Insert foot in her mouth.
After that, I moved on to another theater, Footlite.  All of my theater friends were auditioning for "Miss Saigon."  I really like this show.  They all went to the first audition, which was on a Sunday afternoon while I was in church.  I went to the Monday night audition.   We were all ushered in to fill out forms, get our picture taken, and get a number.  Then, we were sent downstairs.  First, we were all held in this little dressing room. Then, we were called out one by one to audition.  I went in to the room were the panel sat.  I waved at someone I knew, which I guess could be seen as unprofessional, but it's community theater.  Then, I started to sing my song.  Well, to my surprise, the piano was downtuned at least two keys, and maybe almost three keys flat!  Well, again, I had taken "Part of Your World."  I didn't expect to have to sing it in bass range.  On top of that, the accompanist was an awful sight reader!  It was pretty awful!  I then learned all of the people that auditioned on Sunday got to audition on the main stage with a piano that was actually close to in tune.  They also had call backs then and there.  I also learned that a friend that hadn't even auditioned got called in because, "Not enough high sopranos had auditioned."  Well, I would have sounded more like a Soprano if the piano hadn't sucked!
After that, I haven't really auditioned for anything.  That's one of the reasons I started my own group.  I'm sick of the local politics.  I promise to give every one a fair chance in my show choir!  If somebody loves to sing and perform, I want them to come join us!

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