Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Audition: Company

Last night I auditioned for Gallery Player's Winter Musical, Company, by Stephen Sondheim. (this is als the company I did Parade with, last winter.)
I've been preparing for this audition for a long time--in fact, probably all fall. When I started lessons with my teacher back in September, this was one of the things I was shooting for.
Originally, I had wanted to sing a piece from COmpany--The Ladies Who Lunch, one of the show's more famous pieces. The director (who also directed Parade) hadn't had a prohibition on songs from the show last year, and I didn't read anything different on the audition notice, so Robin and I worked this up.
The reason I wanted to sing this particular piece was simple--the part I really wanted in the show (Joanne), is a contralto--a real one. In Ladies, she sings low E's as a matter of course. Now, not a lot of people can sing low Es. I can. As Yogi Bera said, "It ain't bragging if you can do it." So I wanted to sing Ladies to demonstrate that I could, indeed, hit those low Es. It would be like someone who wants to sing the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute will probably audition with a song that shows off the high end of her range--because the Queen of the Night is very high, and very dramatic.
Well, of course, I re-checked the audition notice, and behold--no songs from Company allowed.
(Insert four letter word of choice here.)

So, I brought all my anthologies to Robin and we pawed through them. I was thinking Maybe This Time, from Cabaret, which is low and sexy and adult. But Robin found something else--the Diva's Lament, from Spamalot, which I had quasi-worked up in the years before I met Robin. I loved the song--it was hysterical--but I had never, ever thought of it as an audition piece.
Robin loved it. She told me that I could pick between that or the Cabaret piece.  But as I drove home, I knew I had to sing the Lament. IT was a real character piece, very funny, and demonstrates character, more so than Cabaret. 

So last night I went to the first night of auditions, of course listening to the Company soundtrack on the way (I have the newest version). The song What Would We Do Without You? was playing when I pulled into my 'usual' slot in the JCC lot.

I was the first one there, as usual. Between 15-20 people showed up, evenly split between guys and girls. SOme people from Parade--Dani, Wilma, Jay--and Jekyll and Hyde--Amy and Dave--were there, along with folks I didn't know. Kristin, Parade's music director, was playing the auditions.

A few minutes before 7, the stage manager called me in to audition. The director and Kristin were on the stage, and I felt like I was back at Parade rehearsals. I handed my form, resume and photo to the director and handed my music to Kristin.

When singing, a few things can happen. If it's going well, I don't really hear the accompaniment, unless I'm supposed to (as in, I'm at a rest.). I know it's there, it's doing its thing, but I'm not really aware of it. When things are going not so well, I am aware that one of us is off--I'm ahead, he's behind, whatever. There's no meshing of the two of us to create the single piece. Last night, I didn't really hear the accompaniment, and it wasn't because of the Bionic Ear--I felt good. It sounded right.

Frank (the director) was, of course, taking notes while I was singing. There was no one else in the theater, just him, Kristin, and me. After my song, Frank asked Kristin to take me through intervals--a scale going up, starting at middle C. On the audition sheet, he asks us to write our vocal range. I wrote: D#5-B-flat3, which basically means the D-sharp below the staff to the B-flat above it. It's almost three octaves--not too bad. So Kristin took me up to the B-flat, and she looked sort of amazed that I was still hanging in there as we ascended. Although I am a contralto, and I'm very proud of my low range, I'm also pretty proud of my higher notes, as well. They were hard won.

"What was that?" Frank asked Kristin as I hit the b-flat (and stopped).
"B-flat," She said.
Frank's eyebrows went up as he checked that against what I had written. No, I had not lied. "Good."
I went over to stand before his table. "I'm not going to have you read, because I've worked with you before, and I know what you can do." I nodded. "So thanks, and have a great holiday."
"No call backs?"
I thanked them, took my music and left the theater. I informed the other Parade kids that they wouldn't have to read--just sing--and I think some were disappointed (I was, a little), but my audition lasted maybe five minutes, which was good. I like to be in and out.

So, if this is anything like Parade, we should find out the casting (for this show, it's 15 people--8 girls, 7 guys) the Monday after Christmas. Today is the last day of auditions.

1 comment:

nutmeg said...

Love hearing about all of this... Best of luck!