The fall audition season has arrived and I have been preparing students all summer for auditions at professional theatres, community theatres, local youth theatres, and school productions. Here are 5 basic tips to keep in mind as you get ready for your next audition:
1. Be familiar with the show that you’re auditioning for so that you can select appropriate material. What style of music? What decade/year is the show set? What characters are you right for?
2. Have your sheet music prepared for the accompanist in the right key and marked for the specific cut (usually 16 or 32 bars). Have this music memorized and ready for performance; the same goes if you are asked to prepare a monologue (1 to 2 minutes), memorized and ready to go.
3. Dress appropriately! Again, think about the character and the show, but DO NOT go in a costume. If you look and feel uncomfortable, then this will affect your performance. You want to look presentable and relatable.
4. Warm-up your voice ahead of time and take ten minutes to focus. I tell my students all the time that they don’t need a piano to warm-up. Breathing exercises, lip trills, and slides are easy on-the-go warm-ups, while free pitch pipe or piano apps on your phone can give you a starting pitch for arpeggios, scales, or even your song.
5. Be confident and have fun in the audition! You’ve done the hard work to prepare and now you get to perform your audition material for new people. Isn’t that what we performers love to do?
For those of you in the Northern Virginia area, I’m posting to promote my students’ current work around town and emphasize how proud I am of their achievements. This is a huge weekend for school musicals and I have several students that are performing lead, supporting, and ensemble roles.
Beauty & the Beast Jr. with Saint Mary’s School is playing at Bishop Ireton High School on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon at 2 PM. Aimee Bee student highlights: Viana Schlapp is starring as Belle, Addison Parker is Silly Girl, and Elizabeth Cheney is in many scenes as a featured ensemble member.
Billy Elliot is opening tonight at West Potomac High School and plays through May 6th. More information and tickets are available here. Featured Aimee Bee students are Willa Denton, Kendall Grady, Max Marshall, and David McFarland.
Oklahoma is also opening tonight at West Springfield High School and playing through Sunday afternoon. My student, Connor Brunson, is a freshman and singing tenor in the ensemble!
Chess at The Theatre Lab in Washington, DC opens tonight and plays through May 6th. Carla Crawford has a leading role as the Arbitor in this rock musical! More information and tickets are here.
Finally, The Lion King Kids is playing on Wednesday, May 3rd, at 7 PM at Maury Elementary School. Aimee Bee students (studying with my awesome teaching artists Moriah and Jess!) Fiona Hendrickson and Eliza Gwin are in this show!
Check out these awesome shows and support our local musical theatre students!!
It’s September and I’m going to share my experience seeing If/Then on Broadway. I’m going to preface this post by saying that I saw the pre-Broadway engagement at the Kennedy Center here in Washington, DC and already loved the Tom Kitt/ BYorkey score. I will also note that I think Ms. Idina Menzel picks someone in the audience to wave to as she exits after curtain call each performance and I think that I was that lucky person during this particular Saturday matinee.
Since I had already seen this show during its’ pre-Broadway tryout, it wasn’t at the top of my list to see during one of my NYC trips. I was already 6 months pregnant and knew that I wouldn’t be able to hop on a train to the city whenever I felt like it once my twins were born. My good friend, Courtney, and I were planning on seeing 2 shows during my short stay with her, a Friday evening show and a Saturday matinee. We decided to try our hand at a lottery ticket when I first got to town and if that failed, we’d hit up TKTS in Times Square. I mentioned this in a previous blog, but I have very little luck when it comes to these lotteries. We each put our name in the drawing at Aladdin and neither of our names was drawn. Usually all of the lotteries take place at the exact same time and since you have to be there when your name is called, it’s impossible to be in the lottery for more than one show. As luck would have it, If/Then had their lottery a half-hour later than all of the other shows so we decided to try for it. Courtney’s name was called second and I was called fourth…what?!?! My name didn’t even need to be called since each person can buy up to 2 tickets.
On this mild Friday evening, we scored $35 orchestra seats to the show and had just enough time to meet Courtney’s husband, Rick, for dinner at 5 Napkin Burger in Hell’s Kitchen. We made it back to the theatre with time to spare and settled into our bargain seats!
Having the opportunity to see this show again allowed me to see how they tightened things up and refined the book for their Broadway engagement. Although there were certainly mixed reviews for this show, I loved seeing it both times and really related to the storyline. Maybe this is because I was pregnant and being a mother (and a military family) is a part of this show. Maybe it’s because I sometimes think about life in terms of if I had done this versus that and where I would be. Maybe it’s because it takes place in NYC and everyone knows I love the city. Or maybe it’s because the show had an awesome cast, a cool ensemble, and great energy! There is nothing that excites me and inspires me more than an evening of musical theatre.
On June 30, 2016, BroadwayHD provided the first ever live stream of a Broadway show: the current revival of She Loves Me (which just closed last weekend). BroadwayHD continued to offer this live recording as an On-Demand Encore through July 10th. I was finally able to rent and watch this last Friday evening, July 8th. I quite simply enjoyed my evening in with this gorgeous production!
Though I have known the songs from this show for years and years, I have never seen a production of She Loves Me. I own both the original 1963 recording and the 1993 Roundabout Theatre Company revival recording. I also have the vocal selections and have sung several of the songs in this show including A Trip To The Library, which I performed at my senior voice recital in college! I’ve assigned both the lyrical and character pieces to my female and male students. There’s lots of vocal technique to be learned from these classic musical theatre songs (breath, legato line, and phrasing to name a few)!
BroadwayHD is in one word: phenomenal! I love that I could catch this limited run in my living room (while my children were sleeping upstairs) even though I wasn’t able to make it to New York City. The owners of BroadwayHD blatantly state that this is by no means a replacement for live theatre. I wholeheartedly believe that! I also think that by providing a way for people across the globe to watch live Broadway performances, we are sharing theatre with those that don’t have access to NYC and these high quality performances on Broadway.
I know there are men and women of all ages (including my young students) out there just like me that listen to this music, watch this show, and it takes them to another world. It inspires their creativity, encourages them to pursue their passions, and makes their heart happy. We need more of this everyday and I’m hopeful that BroadwayHD will continue to spread the joy of live theatre throughout the world!
I’m teaching a musical theatre workshop this week and we are exploring songs from shows that are currently running on Broadway. From the classic, legit musical theatre in the revival of She Loves Me to the pop stylings of Sara Bareilles in Waitress to rap in Hamilton, there are a wide range of vocal styles and abilities featured on Broadway right now.
We focused on three categories of Broadway musicals: new (in the last five seasons), revivals, and long-running hits. New musicals could be completely original works like Hamilton (the 2016 Best Musical Tony Award winner) and Something Rotten!, but could also include shows based on movies (School of Rock), books (Tuck Everlasting), or featuring music by a particular songwriter (On Your Feet). Even shows that flopped this season have fantastic songs so I think it’s always worth a listen to the cast recording.
Musical theatre singers are true vocal athletes that must have versatility, musicality, and strong acting chops. It is important to develop healthy vocal technique while strengthening your voice and building your endurance. Working on dynamics, range, musical style, acting the song, and challenging yourself as a performer through both repertoire and vocalises are all essential ingredients to getting yourself Broadway ready.
Here is a video that highlights two of the songs we’ve been working on this week:
Audiences love Disney on Broadway and these shows can be seen in touring, regional, community, and school theaters across the country. The Lion King has been running for almost 19 years! The first Disney musical that I saw was Beauty and the Beast and I fell in love with the music and magical components of that show. My personal favorites are the numbers that were added to the production and not part of the original movie like “Home”. This is true for me with a lot of Disney musicals. I adore “Positoovity” from The Little Mermaid, “Step in Time” from Mary Poppins, and “Proud of Your Boy” from Aladdin.
In 2010, I was invited to serve as the educational director at the Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s summer camp. In addition to spending the summer in the beautiful mountains of Colorado, I had the opportunity to direct almost 100 kids in a production of Aladdin Kids! I had three separate casts (approx. 33 actors in each cast) that had to learn the music, choreography, and blocking for this show. I already knew the music very well from the movie (which I saw as a child at the movie theater) and subsequently the vocal selections that I brought in to learn with my piano and voice teacher. We performed in an open amphitheater overlooking the water and this space gave me a lot of artistic freedom for audience interaction and creating the world of Aladdin.
Aladdin is an awesome show that has creative ways to incorporate a large ensemble and showcase students’ individual talents as well as build a cohesive cast. If I had a gymnast, I had a spot to feature him or her in “Friend Like Me”. Same thing with a breakdancer, beatboxer, belly dancer, fire breather… I love honing my students’ theatre technique while finding ways for them to share their special skills with the cast and audiences.
Aladdin is currently on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street. This is the same theatre where The Lion King started before moving to the Minskoff Theatre and making room for Mary Poppins to open. I wonder what new Disney musical will make its’ way into this theatre next…
Do you have a favorite Disney musical? Please comment and share!