Monday, August 28, 2006

Princess Mia goes Broadway

In attempt to survive the droning of my Oceanography professor, I've decided to bring my laptop to his 2-hour class. Hopefully, this will make my posting more frequent and consistent although I would love to actually feel like my tuition money is going to good use. We shall see.

A few people knew that last Thursday night I auditioned for the Theater department's Chicago. I figured that as an opera singer, I needed to gain more audition experience as well as learn how to adjust to Broadway. My career options include both, so I should try to familiarize myself with both. The title of my post relates to a relatively recent Disney movie (before the company killed animation) about an awkward girl who finds out that she is a princess. Ok, cheesy, I know, but cheese done well and if you've seen the movie, you can see where my story is going.

I signed up a few days before auditions began and felt that I had a firm grasp on what was expected of me. The list included about 16-32 bars of a song and a group dance audition. There was also some suggestion of reading a part with one of the professors, but materials would be provided that night. With that in mind, I jotted down an 8:30pm dance audition and a 9pm vocal audition. I would have liked to space the two a bit more, but work and class didn't allow for it. Besides, auditions are short; I could go from one right to the next.

Arriving early for once in my life, I checked in with the students at a check-in table wearing my sweatpant capris, short t-shirt top and jazz shoes. Yes, I own jazz shoes, but they were from our production of The Crucible - not from a dance class. The girls in charge asked me about my audition schedule to which they responded with, "Um, you can't do that."

"What do you mean?"
"Well, the dance audition is an hour and a half long. You won't make it to your vocal audition."
"Are you kidding!?"
"Keep your voice down! The theater doors aren't soundproofed well."
I attempted my version of a whisper. "Ok, so what do...."
"ok, so what do i need to do?"
"Go, talk to Ms. ---. She's really nice and maybe she'll let you come in for the second half of the dance audition."

So, I sought out the dance instructor and described my dilemma. She was extremely kind and told me to just join in late. There were multiple routines and I should be able to catch the all lady "Cell-block Tango."

Now, I had a half-hour to kill. Venturing outside, I ran into a friend of mine and began chatting. He was preparing for the role of Billy Flynn and asked me what I was preparing. I explained that I was originally going to audition for Mary Sunshine, a very easily snowed-over reporter who always believed Flynn's lies if they made the murderess sound innocent. She's also the only role sung operatically while everyone else performs in an early jazz/ vaudeville style. I say originally because I had discovered that the department was considering casting a man for that role. Needless to say, a guy in drag singing mezzo-soprano will always beat out the funniest female soprano. I had brought "Green finch and linnet bird" from Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. I figured that most people wouldn't be reading for a lead anyway and if they liked me, they would place me where they wanted me after callbacks.

"So, who's monologue are you reading?"
"You're supposed to prepare a monologue."
"Wait, that wasn't posted on the sign-up board! It sounded like they would just have improv with a professor...."
"Don't worry. There's copies inside - just grab one of them."

So I did and I'm proud to say that I learned Velma's monologue from "Cell Block Tango" in less than 30 minutes. I figured since I was already ticked off, it would be just a small step to murderous bitch.

My audition drew nearer and I decided to sing a little just to make sure I was still vocally warm. There were quite a few others singing outside, so I didn't figure this would be a problem. I sang all of about 6 bars full voice when a side door flew open.

"Who's singing out hear?!"
I sheepishly raised my hand, " Uh, me. Sorry."
"We're trying to work in here, so could you find somewhere else?"

After apologizing again, I figured if my voice could carry inside the building, I was warm enough. I thought that guy was a teacher and was just annoyed because audition chaos was invading the school. Oh, well. I scampered inside to get in line. The same check-in girls were lining up 9 o'clock people and I waited for my name to be called. It wasn't. I questioned and got the response of, "Oh, so you are here?"

Nope, I showed up about an hour early only to leave just before I'm supposed to sing. Gosh.

"Ok, well do you have your paperwork?"
"What paperwork?" I answered suddenly feeling exhausted.
"Well, we'll move you to 9:30 and have to fill it out."

Can I just say that I could have filled out that stupid half-sheet of paper when I checked-in originally or even in line? All that was needed was my contact information, emergency contact information, spouse/boyfriend/best friend contact information and schedule conflicts. Then, I was told to wait for my turn to get in line ("Please don't go anywhere this time.").

I should now mention the massive amount of costumes surrounding me. Girls in full flapper outfits with push-up bras, wigs and stage make-up stared at me. Personally, that didn't bother me - you're supposed to go into an audition dressed neutrally, not as a character. Granted, I wished I had dressed more professionally or at least decided to forego the flattening sports bra, but whatever. I could sing and act and that's all I cared about.

My turn finally came up and I strolled into the studio confident and effervescent. I greeted everyone and stopped dead in my tracks. The teacher who was so annoyed with my singing was sitting right in front of me. Directly in front of me. After a mental Fuck!, I prepared myself to sing.

Startled and worn-down as I was, I believe that I sang well. My monologue sounded good, but unless they took the shaking for unbridled rage, I think I sunk it. I left the room with a smile on my face and made my way to the dance studio. As I watched the routine, I prepared myself to jump in at the next chance. Considering the short length of the audition routine, this wasn't too bad. Just as I was about to jump in, the instructor turned off the radio and announced that the callback list would be posted tomorrow.

The ridiculous thing is that I was certain that I could have danced that routine and danced it well. Go figure. Needless to say, I did not receive a callback, but so far, several people have really enjoyed the story. They don't call it "getting experience" for nothing. Now, if I only thought that this experience would help me in the real world....


Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Sash,

One of the enduring truths of performance and production is that the whole affair would run a lot more smoothly if creative types weren't in charge.

Creative types of varying stripes -- like you or like me -- no matter how organized we may be in our personal space -- have an amply deserved reputation for general discombobulation when it comes to logistics.

Of course, if the decisions were made by accountants and comptrollers I'd hate to see what would end up on stage in the end, so I guess we're obliged to take our frazzled lumps.

Good luck!

Cheeseburger Brown

Rai said...

My prof doesnt let us have our laptops in class because he is afraid we wont listen to him...

Fortunately Latin is holding my attention.

Write more!

Sash said...

I really wasn't trying to lie about being more consistent......

Glad that Latin does hold your attention - Oceanography, with this professor at least, doesn't hold mine and I'm the overachieving nutcase, remember?