Sunday, October 25, 2009

Audition Material for Music Theatre

Sunday musings...

This topic comes up constantly, as it should!

So today I am going to take it from another angle - from a BUSINESS angle.

This is always so difficult for us, as artists, to make this leap. We must recognize that the audition is to get the JOB and SHOW SOMETHING SPECIFIC about what we do. It is not about anything more!!! When we book the job, THEN we can begin the creative process and create!!!

So, these are my musings, and my opinions on developing that audition material.

It should be morphing and changing, as your voice matures and develops, as your psyche evolves and as your tastes and your type change!

However, when choosing repertoire, I believe it is important to know PRECISELY why you are choosing it and what it shows and and what it SHOULD show. And then, can you do that?

You cannot think like an artist in these situations!!! This is where we get into trouble and make it more complicated than it needs to be! We need to be precise, and in that precision, we will know what to choose and why to choose it!

First and foremost, do you connect to it? If you don't, it won't be authentic. There is so much marvellous repertoire out there - there is absolutely NO REASON to be singing something you feel "beige" about!!! Sing it cause you WANT TO!

Let's walk through an example (sung at a recent workshop - so thanks Michelle for being my example!!!)

Meadowlark from The Baker's Wife. This is a marvellous song!!! It is a narrative - shows great arc of story-telling and intimacy of acting intelligence. It shows line, language, and it exposes the beauty of voice. It can utilize mix, chest, belt, and higher extension.

But what about the audition material?????

None of this matters in this piece for an audition!!! This song is a bitch to play if you set it infront of a pianist, so that's a strike against you immediately. If you decide to use it, you might want to get your 16 cut re-arranged with an easier piano arrangement.

And narrative, intimacy aside - what does this song show in a 16 bar cut for an audition? It is simply that ascending line at the end "My beautiful young man and I" - which moves from mix to belt or mix-belt - which is ALL they need to hear!!

So what does this song show in an audition? More uptempo, rhythmically complex, and if you have a great mix and middle voice and can truly mix belt or full belt that last note and let it ease out of the ascending line without a bump, voila - TRIUMPH!! THEN DO IT! If you can't - pick something else!!!

There is really nothing else in the song that is easy to cut or shows anything exceptional for an audition (other than the piano reduction is STUPID hard and you don't need to put your pianist or yourself in that situation!) so if you like this song, great. But for an audition, can you DO the cut? If yes, use it! If no, FIND SOMETHING ELSE!!!

Getting the idea?

So the questions are these: What do you do well? What are the CUTS that show that off? And then, what is the required repertoire to show that?

Don't show them what you can't do; what you would like to do; what you THINK they want to hear! Show them what you CAN DO and what YOU WANT THEM TO HEAR!!!

If you are more an actor than an "voice" - in other words, if your acting intelligence is stronger than the beauty of your voice, then don't pick a cut that is rangy and shows the flaws! Pick a cut that is character driven and allows the acting intelligence to shine!!

If you can't belt, don't!!!

Don't copy or mimic!!! MAKE THE CUT YOURS!!! Sing it with YOUR VOICE!!!

Know your strengths, and expose them!!! You can find your strengths in every genre and every era of your audition book! If you lead with your strengths and you know PRECISELY why you are using a particular song, and finding that precise cut to expose it, then that audition piece has a REASON to being there...just cause you like it, doesn't make it a good idea!

Be BRUTALLY HONEST with what you can do. Again, a song in the context of a show, or a song in its individual context can be marvellous and wonderful, but perhaps for an audition cut, it won't work. So save the song for a concert or cabaret or something! Find something else that will give you the audition cut that will serve you perfectly!

Find the keys that serve you best! There are many on-line services and marvellous people out there that will transpose and arrange for you - find your cut and make the investment if necessary!!! It will serve you well in the long run!

Just keep reminding yourself the audition is different from a full song performance!

Find the cut that serves you and know what you want to show with that cut! Don't settle for "meh" when the repertoire exists out there to be "wow"!!! It takes time to discover it, but it is WORTH THE DISCOVERY because you are worth it!

Sing it cause you love it; sing it cause it shows your strengths; sing it cause it is WOW in your voice; know SPECIFICALLY what is shows about what you do!!! AND THEN DO IT!!!

More to come...

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