[t]here has to be some seduction. That seduction is easier when you have a partner who would like to be seduced...[The] only position to take in an audition--you have to preserve your outsideness as a platform from which yuo seduce others, while at the same time you have to do what it takes to get the job. --Anna Deavere Smith, Letters to a Young Artist
The drive to the audition was 45 minutes long. I was in good voice. To prep, I had the original Broadway Cast recording playing in my car. It's a long CD, so I wasn't too far into it by the time I reached the suburb where the high school was located. As I neared the school, Robert Cuccioli started singing "This is the moment", which has been dismissed in some quarters as "ice rink music" for its over-played appeal. The song is about taking chances, jumping off cliffs, going it alone, "damn[ing] the odds." It was a good song for driving into the parking lot.
I was early; not really early, but early. There were a few other scarcely populated cars in the lot, and the occupants appeared to be younger than me by at least eight years. I managed to console myself with the thoughts of all the times people had asked me when I was going to graduated from high school. I don't look twenty-six.
The audition began at 2:00. At around 1:50, I saw a couple get out of a small green coupe and head toward an entrance. I had never been to this high school so I didn't know where I was going. I followed them. The girl was small and pixie-ish, with short, close-cropped dark auburn hair and wearing a forest-green tank top with her jeans. I relaxed. I hadn't known how to dress for this audition, so I had chosen an Ann Taylor loft top with a scooped neck, jeans, and my ballet flats, in case dancing was required (no, not my technique shoes from dance class--a pair of Steve Maddens I had bought last summer at Macy's). I was comfortable, I felt good. My hair fell in waves and curls around my shoulders. I had gone to Saturday night Mass, so I had gotten to sleep in. My skin looked good.
We entered the high school a few steps away from the theater. The cafeteria was in front of us, and I could see a jungle-like courtyard beyond the glass doors, like my high school had. The doors to the auditorium were on the left.
The stage was bigger than my old high school's, the seating wider. There was little by way of sound absorbing materials on the walls, so I knew my voice would carry. One of the voice professors at Capital called me "the little girl with the big voice." I looked like I could play Laurie in Oklahoma!but a had a voice of a Sally Bowles, a Marguerite, an Elphaba. It's been big since I was a kid.
The director was there, handing out information slips. "Name/address/phone number/email". Easy stuff. Nothing about age or credentials (even though I would've felt fine listing those). "Part you are auditioning for." I scribbled "Lucy/chorus." I knew the chances of me getting the female lead were slim. For one, I'm sort of small (5'3"). I'm a blonde. I look like some 1930s film ingenue. Not a sexy call girl. But what the heck. Really, I would take anything. I had loved this show since I was 14 and had first seen it at the Ohio Theater.
The girl next to me filled in "Emma/chorus" in that slot. She was a junior at Cap and just looked like Emma--small, fine-boned, blonde hair. Perfect.
"Will accept any part?" YES, I circled, almost too enthusiastically.
I had no conflicts to list. My form was complete. I turned it in, as part of the building pile on the edge of the stage, and leafed through my song book. I had brought "Storybook", my no-fail, go-to number for everything. It was from , the show Frank Wildhorn wrote right after Jekyll. The piece was big, bold, and perfect for my voice. It would fill the theater easily. And it had a bit of a sassy swing to it. Also, it had the tremendous benefit of being relatively obscure, which meant the risk of other girls singing it was low.
I was right on that count--by the time the auditions were over, two girls had sung "When I look at you" from the show, but not "Storybook." Since my piece is 18 pages long (with the repeat), I told the accompanist I would only sing the first verse. I wanted to sing the French at the end (It's a key change, too--more impressive), but that would've made it too long. I didn't want to bore them.
The auditions were in front of all 50 some people that had come out that day. There was no assigned order--we just got up when we felt ready. I went in about the middle of the pack. I took my music to the accompanist, explained what I wanted to do, gave my tempo, and took my mark.
I introduced myself to the director and his wife. They shuffled for my audition sheet. The song began.
Even though I was a bit off with the accompanist, I felt like I had it. I made eye contact. My voice filled the room. I heard nothing but me. People were smiling. There was engagement. My body swayed to the quick waltz tempo of the piece; it's a very easy piece to emote. Marguerite is trying to seduce men in order to get information. I was, in a sense, seducing the panel.
At the end the direector asked my last name again. Apparently she'd missed it when I'd given it. When I returned to my seat, the woman behind me said, "that was lovely." I hoped so. It felt solid.
I stayed to read two scenes as Lucy; one with Jekyll, one with Hyde (played by the same actor). That was easy, too. I felt rapor with the man I was reading with. It was comfortable.
As I left the audition and drove home to meet my friends for dinner, I felt confident. At the very least, I'd given it my best effort, which is all you can do. If the director wants you, he'll take you. If not, then he's looking for something else. Which may sound obvious, but is hard to remember when you've given it your best shot. But at least I had that consolation.
Some of the girls were in black dresses and sparkly jewelry. Others had professional head shots with their resumes printed on the back. I had a vocal resume, but I hadn't brought it. I most certainly didn't have a head shot. I felt like I'd fallen into an alternative universe. I had a voice, and I had the experience. In the end, that's what matters. A fancy head shot isn't a substitute for a good audition and stage presence.