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Mar. 10th, 2010

Prepping for the Understudy Rehearsal and other thoughts on the theatre

The understudy runthrough of The Mikado is this Friday and I'm looking forward to it.  I always enjoyed watching the non-choral parts of understudy runthroughs for other shows because it gives you a chance to see the work from a fresh, new perspective.  It's natural and right that different performers give a different performance, and I know in some years, the principals have even taken ideas of the understudies' and incorporated them into their own performance.  Maybe we'll have something so wonderful that our principals will want to do the same!

In other news, I've been keeping up with local audition listings and RLT's Songs for a New World auditions are immediately after The Mikado closes.  I would do a bad job at an audition; I've not got anything prepared or time between now and then to get something ready.  But more than that, I don't think I can do more than one show a year while I'm in grad school.  It's just too hard.  I can do the Savoyards show and I can do the summer faculty/alum show at YPPC but that's about all I can manage right now, I think.  It makes me sad.  I had grand plans to go to lots and lots of auditions.  And I know you can turn down roles but I'm not in a place right now where I can go to an audition on a lark.  I just don't have a repertoire developed for that yet.

Anyway.  These are the thoughts I've been having.

Jan. 6th, 2010

Audition Outcome and Reflection: The Mikado

First, the outcome, because suspense is for not me: I was cast as an alto in the chorus as well as Pitti-Sing's understudy.  I'm very happy with this outcome for many and various reasons.

Now, the part that's more important in the long term: the reflection.

What did I do well?  I think the character work really made a difference in my audition.  Knowing who you're supposed to be and why you're singing makes the whole thing more natural.

What can I do better?  At the time, I felt well-rehearsed, but after the audition I realized that I hadn't really internalized any of the things I'd been practicing - characterization, breath support, etc.  Because of this, my nerves got the better of me.  I wasn't careful at all about dynamics, which meant I would be loud or soft at times that didn't necessarily make sense.  Additionally, because I hadn't internalized the character work, my acting was superficial, which left me time to think about the directors' facial expressions and other things I really shouldn't have been considering.

Also, I forgot to thank Betty (the accompanist).  That's not cool.

What will I change?  Next time - especially for the Savoyards next year with Princess Ida - I will start working on the role earlier and work harder to internalize everything so it becomes automatic.  If I can do that, maybe I can just treat the audition like a performance, which is the most important thing to do but always gets away from me.  AND!  I'll remember to thank the accompanist.

Jan. 3rd, 2010

Audition Aftermath: The Mikado

It's always a wonderful feeling to know people at an audition, and when you know almost everybody, it's phenomenal.  More than any other group I've worked with, the Savoyards become an extended family.  It's one of the few groups I'm in where I don't get shy and anxious about parties.  So even if your audition itself goes horribly awry, the experience can be lovely.

Fortunately, my audition was fine.  I arrived about 10 minutes early and met Mary Elisabeth (my sister) and Sarah (her best friend) on the way in and then found Erin (our friend we met in Patience with the Savoyards in 2006) inside.  We were all signed up for 2:45 and I asked if they'd let me go first, which they were happy to do.  Early in my theatrical "career" I always tried to be the last to audition but over time I've learned that I feel much better if I can go on and get it done.  So now, when I can, I go first. 

I headed in and gave my forms to Derrick (the director) and Alan (the musical director).  I then explained that since I hadn't auditioned for a role for Savoyards before, and thus was accustomed to providing my own music, talking the accompanist through the intro and setting the tempo, I needed to know if Alan would set the tempo or if I should, and how much intro I might get.  We settled that, Betty (the accompanist) started to play, and I went ahead and sang.

I feel good about it.  At this point in my life, it's more about having a good audition than getting a role, because you have to have the first to do the second.  It's taken me about 15 years to figure this out.  It was not a perfect audition, but it never is.  Once the show is cast I'll try and go more into depth about what I think I did well and what I can do better next time.  The main thing I learned from today's audition is that I need to audition more often because, just like being observed in the classroom, the more it happens, the less nerve-wracking it becomes.

After all of us in the 2:45 slot had auditioned we were interviewed by a writer for Durham Magazine, whose primary interest in us was due to the fact that we're all under the age of 30, I think, and he was hoping we had fresh things to say.  I hope our discussion of Family Guy ("I've Got A Little List"), Animaniacs ("H. M. S. Yakko") and The Simpsons (wherein Silent Bob sings "He is an Englishman" - WRONG, mind you...) fulfilled that expectation.

Then, we had the opportunity to visit a bit, and as always it was lovely to see Sarah and David Nevill (producers), and previous castmates like Pamski, Janell, Steven Lumpkin, Kim Kingsley, and Ruth.

Callbacks are Tuesday.  I'll let you know if I get called back.  Otherwise, as I'm fairly confident I'll be cast in the chorus if not in a role, you can expect a report from Thursday's singthrough.

Dec. 29th, 2009

Audition Preparation: The Mikado, Part 2

So as I mentioned earlier, Pitti-Sing's audition selection is easy: tidily within my range, no exceptionally absurd rhythms or intervals, which leaves me with both the impression and the time that I ought to to work hard at acting the song as well as I sing it. (I'm a bit nervous that this is all talk and I'll go into the audition and the directors will be entirely nonplussed, but that's the risk we run.)

These questions are from MusicalTheatreAudition.com:

Who sings the song?

Pitti-Sing

What do you know about this character?

She's just finished school.  She's eighteen or under.  She is either sisters or friends with Yum-Yum and Peep-Bo.  She's not very serious.  She's a bit of a relativist, with her frequent insistence that "it all depends."

Where is the character in terms of location and time period?

In the town of Titipu, in a fictionalized Japan, presumably in the Victorian era.

Who is the character singing to and where is this person located?

The Mikado, who is in town with her and others (Koko and Poohbah).

What is the relationship between the character and the person to whom he/she is singing?

No prior one exists, really.  He is the emperor and she is his subject.

Where in the show does this song occur?

In Act II, at a point of crisis, really.

What has happened just before the character started singing?

Koko has just sung about how he has beheaded Nanki-Poo, which is a lie.

Why does the character feel compelled to sing in this moment?

Pitti-Sing is embellishing Koko's story.  She has good intentions, hoping to assist Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum in their attempt to marry and flee, but I think she also just enjoys being part of the story.

What are the primary ideas/emotions the character is expressing in the song?

She is describing her involvement in Nanki-Poo's execution.

How does the character change from beginning to end of the song?

She doesn't, really; she is just telling a story.

What does singing the song accomplish for the character?

She contributes to the believability of Koko's story, or so she thinks.  It turns out that she is considered an accomplice in the killing of the emperor's son.  That's not as good, really.

Once you have answered these questions, ask yourself - how will your singing reflect this?

That's the trick to figure out, isn't it?  I feel a strong connection to Pitti-Sing, because I've ascribed several characteristics to her with which I strongly identify.  Firstly, I feel like she's a bit protective of Yum-Yum (see her singing to Katisha in the Act I finale).  Secondly, she seems to enjoy being the center of attention and making a story seem grand.  This is a habit of my own, completely making up a story or, more often, changing it to produce a stronger effect.  I need to spend some more time pondering before I can fully answer this last question.

Dec. 28th, 2009

Audition Preparation: The Mikado

For the first time ever, I am auditioning for a role in a Durham Savoyards production. Things are a bit different this year for several reasons. First, because I'm on the Board of Governors for the Savoyards now, I got to hear about the concept for the show before the start of rehearsals. I think it's going to be very good. You can begin to get a sense of it from Derrick's September 16 blog post. I'm not teaching this year, which means I can stay up later for rehearsals, but the Durham Arts Council has changed its hours, which means rehearsals will be beginning and ending earlier. I'm a little anxious about balancing my work for school with rehearsals but I think it will all be fine.

I'm auditioning for the role of Pitti-Sing. The audition piece is from "The Criminal Cried..." in Act Two. It's a fairly easy piece to sing, which means I feel like I should work hard at acting it well. To that end, I've been reading tips at musicaltheatreaudition.com.

I'll be making further posts as I go through the preparation this week. The audition is next Sunday. I have the piece memorized and now it's time to polish it and learn the callback selections.

Jan. 17th, 2009

"Bodies Moving in Space"

That's what we did at rehearsal Thursday night, as narrated by Derrick in his blog.

I love few things more than moving around in front of a mirror, so any time we get the dance studio, I spend a significant amount of time making faces at myself and doing entirely unnecessary dance moves. Lucky for me, the whole evening was about entirely unnecessary dance moves. Unlucky for me, my awesomely deformed hip (pelvis is fused with a vertebra on the right side) did not enjoy two hours of pretty much non-stop movement, so now I'm dealing with some bursitis.

It's entirely worth it, though, because I haven't had dance classes in almost a year. And, oddly enough, I don't work that much dance into my teacherly days.

I won't lie - it was a bit of a disappointment to discover that the combination we learned won't be in the show. Mainly because it was fun. But it was good to reacquaint myself with movement and realize that those few years of dance lessons were not at all wasted on me; I can go across the floor like a champ and I'm really good at counting to 8, in rhythm, even.

It was also rather pleasant when Brittany referred to me as one of the "people in the women's chorus who can dance." I felt like a bit of an expert. (It may be informative for me to tell you that until I was 15 or 16 I was convinced that I was an absolutely horrid dancer, even on choreographed pieces. Turns out no, though I still can't be trusted to improvise dance well at a party or club.)

Jan. 13th, 2009

Choral Rehearsals = Not a Lot New to Say

So I've now had two more rehearsals for Gondoliers. Both were choral rehearsals. In one, we worked on the insanely long opening number; in the other, we worked on the other full chorus numbers and reviewed that one as well.

There's never a lot to say, early on. We're all still learning the music, except those of us who've done the show before. Being an alto usually means singing a few steady lines all on one note, then moving up or down a half-step for a note or two, then going back to the first one (a G above middle C, if Sullivan gets his way, most of the time). This is easy.

Then, sometimes, Sullivan decides to anticipate the inception of jazz music by giving us a line or two full of accidentals. And those are the times when my sight reading falls apart.

Tonight, we begin staging/dancing. I suspect this will give me more to talk about. I also am hoping to take some photos to post here and on Facebook.

Jan. 9th, 2009

The Gondoliers: First Rehearsal - 1/8/09

The first rehearsal of a show is always so exciting. You get to meet new people, see which familiar faces will be in the show with you, and really get a feel for how things will come together.

At the first rehearsal of the Savoyards shows, we always get a glimpse of the set design. That's one of my favorite things. Our set designer makes a scale model of the stage and the set, as well as creating illustrations of his plans.

I learned at this first rehearsal that The Gondoliers has what I think are some of the most beautiful passages in all of Gilbert and Sullivan. (It also, incidentally, has a 60+ page long opening number.)

Jan. 8th, 2009

Audition + Results: Durham Savoyards, The Gondoliers

So I auditioned on Sunday for The Gondoliers with the Durham Savoyards, aka the only theatre group with which I am consistently involved at this time. I'd been sick and quite busy, so I'd had no time to prepare. So I went with "Part of Your World" - easy, familiar, beloved. Small range, which made for the easy singing, and because they know me I felt no need to show off what I can do. I didn't feel awesome about the audition - not because I worried I wouldn't get in, but because I always like to make a good impression.

In any case, the producer emailed me yesterday offering me a role as an alto in the stage chorus - exactly what I wanted - and so tonight we have our first rehearsal. I've decided to blog the entire process.

The director is blogging it here.

Jan. 15th, 2008

Audition Results: Durham Savoyards, Yeomen of the Guard

I just got the call: they want me to be in the stage chorus. For the record, that's exactly what I put down as my desired role on the audition form. Yay, me! It's not a shock, but it's always nice to hear. First singthrough is Thursday night at 7:30pm. Director's blog is here. Derrick always has amazing things to say.

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