Monday, June 8, 2009

Know Your Composers

I had an audition for an agency last week. I was referred to them by one of my gorgeous co-stars from the musical, Socks, which I did a reading of in April. The first phase of the process was to go in to sing for the agents, and the second (should I advance that far) will be to go in for a formal interview so we can get to know each other and see if our strengths compliment each other. Before I move forward with the story, I first want to tell you that actors will often go through MANY of the first phases before getting to the formal interview and it has nothing to do with how talented the actor is (or isn’t.) Often, it is more related to the fact that the agency needs to have an opening in the actor’s type category in order to progress. If they already have 10 girls just like me, it makes no sense for them to add me to their roster. So, I look at this experience as a fantastic way to show my stuff to a new group of people in my quest to develop my fan base.

But, I digress. For the audition, they told us to prepare 2 contrasting songs plus a monologue, and to bring our book of music. But they seemed to be running a little bit behind, and I started to notice that the later we got, they no longer asked actors to hear a second piece (and the girls in front of me had good voices, so I don’t think it was related to their talent.) So I wasn’t surprised when I went in the room and they only asked for one song. But here’s where I got a real surprise. For this audition, I decided to bring in a brand new song that I had never done at an audition before. Normally that would be a fatal move, but I am so passionate about the song and its fit in my repertoire, and I hired an accompanist to work with me earlier in the week to make sure the song was ready, so I felt confident going in. When I walked in the room I got a very warm greeting. The two agents were looking over my resume, and were happily discussing some of my credits. I put my book of music in front of the pianist, opened up to the page of my new song, and started to give a tempo. The pianist stopped me before I could finish my first sentence and said, “No problem. I know.” I turned to look at him... and it was the composer for the song I was singing.

Let me say that again. This brand new song that I had fallen in love with was composed by the pianist playing this audition.

No pressure or anything! Actually, I thought it was hilarious. I started laughing immediately, and said, “Oh, hi Brad, composer of the piece I am singing!” The agents caught wind of this, and I giddily told them that the pianist had composed my song, and I joked, “If I wasn’t nervous before, I suppose I should be now!” But, actually, it was awesome that he was playing. Part of what makes an actor nervous in a singing audition is wondering if the accompanist will be able to play your song well. So, I knew I had that thing in the bag! Plus, I think it is awesome when something unexpected happens in the audition room. One- it makes for a good story, but Two- it gets you out of your head in the into the present, and you really get to show your personality under pressure. And I am someone who is not thrown by an industry giant in the audition room- I thrive on it. I think that is something big that I have to offer, and I was thrilled that I got a chance to show them my poise.

I gave it everything I had, and thought I did great. I hit all of the emotional high points of the song, let the story come through, and had some wonderful dynamics - showing some powerhouse belting but also some sweet, soaring soprano. I then did my monologue and did fairly well (I’ve done it better, but I hit the critical points and did what I needed to do with it.) Now it is a matter of them choosing to bring me in a second time - but like every audition, you leave the room and don’t look back, because second guessing yourself or trying to predict the future can make you go mad. I know that if they need someone like me, they’ll call. Simple as that.

On a side note: right before the agent audition, I had another audition for the show, “The Full Monty” which has a short run on the Jersey Shore in August. I told a friend of mine that since I had my full attention on the agent audition, I would likely do the audition beforehand in such a relaxed and “I don’t care about this” way that I would probably get called back. And, sure enough, I got a call last night asking me to come to callbacks this week. For almost every other kind of job interview, you really want to show them how passionate you are about getting the job. In acting, you almost always are more desirable if you could take it or leave it. It helped that my voice was in great shape and the person before me... well, she wasn’t very good (I hate saying that, but it was true.) So I was positioned to do well from the start (I sang a rockin’, high belt version of the rock ballad, “Alone.”) The contract doesn’t pay very much, and I would be take out of town (and the action here) for 6 weeks, so I will really have to think about it. There are no shows Monday and Tuesday, and the theater is only 2 hours away by train, so I may consider coming home on our days off (which may be a really good compromise.) I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes...


  1. that really was a great story. Best wishes to you; I hope you get the Jersey Shore gig.

    Eric, and old TextAmerica friend

  2. Hi, Eric! Long time no talk! Do you have a blog I can follow? =)


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