Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Weight, Inches and Magic in the audition room!

Have you been told you need to lose weight?

I mean, by someone other than your doctor?

Physical image has become a huge part of our business - theatre, music theatre AND opera.

However, losing "10 pounds" because someone in casting said so, doesn't make it so!

What does that even mean???

Gentlemen, my apologies right away - I am addressing this toward the women as I have more experience there!  I hope you can translate for your gender! Some of these ideas can translate comfortably!

Fine, if you need to lose actual inches/fat,  then definitely get healthy.  But, if you are one of those size 4 - 6 girls  (sorry gentlemen - insert your size here)  and are told you need to lose 10 pounds,  I will highly suggest you need to re-think what that means.

Know your body type.  Here's a start:  http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/body-types-ectomorph-mesomorph-endomorph.html

Here's an interesting body type questionnaire:  http://www.liverdoctor.com/body-type-questionnaire/
Even though they are selling supplements, ignore that and get some very good information if you answer as honestly as you can!

Another great site that gives you more is here:  http://www.youbeauty.com/quizzes

Your body type,  your BMI,  where you carry your weight,  your muscle density,  your bone size - needs to be taken into consideration.

Women,  your SHAPE is your shape: Pear, hourglass, circle, ruler, triangle, inverted triangle - whatever it is, is YOURS.  You want to figure out what that is, embrace it and find out what you need.

How tall are you?  What are your porportions?  Are your legs long or short? Is your torso long or short?  Limbs?  Are you curvy?  Are you bootyliscious?  Are you flat on all sides?

If you are curvy - you are CURVY.  That is how you are, and frankly, from one curvy lady to another, thank god!  So play up the curves,  don't hide them.

If you actually need to lose weight - as in FAT - (yes, I do...and I will...it's work, but I am the only one who can do it!)  then DO IT.  But don't lose weight if you don't really need to from a medical standpoint.

Why?  You aren't losing for the right reasons.  If a casting person or a director says "get in the best shape you can get into"  that's one thing.  If someone says "you should lose 10 pounds" - again I ask "what is 10 pounds?!?!?!"

So,  the MAGIC of 10 pounds, if you really don't need to lose it, or only have 10 to lose is how you dress.  Seriously.

If you are shorter,  or have shorter legs and a longer torso - often the lack of height can then seem "thicker" if you aren't dressing correctly for an audition.

Follow the age-old idea of creating the longest line possible.  If you have shorter legs and more curvy bum/thighs, then tight jeans and knee high boots and a shirt that cuts across your hips will actually make you look bulkier and will make you look like you have 10 pounds to lose!  Especially in the audition room!

Unless you have legs to your armpits, you don't want to break up the line!!

First things first:  What are the best things about your body?  What do you want to accent?  great legs?  a small waist?  an hourglass figure?  fabulous hair?  intoxicating eyes?  flawless skin?

Write down THREE things.  Trust me, you have at LEAST 3 things you can show off!!

Now - how you create length for your body and silouette to accent these things?  The eye should not get stuck on anything you don't want to highlight!  How do you claim those fabulous things about you and keep the eye moving?

THIS sense of sillouette and structure will make the difference between 10 pounds, and NO pounds.

Remember that old sweater you've had in your closet forever?  And everytime you wear it, someone compliments you on how great you look?  REMEMBER THAT for the audition room!  You need those colors that look great on you!

If you want to accent something,  the color should be more vivid.  If you want to disguise something, or draw attention away and beyond it,  it should be a darker color.  Darker colors tend to be more slimming.  Monochromatic colors are elongating as well.

Remember that if you truly don't need to lose weight medically,  or much at all,  losing weight will lose muscle mass.  Losing muscle means weakening your support system.

You are an athlete - as a singer and as an actor and as a dancer.  You need to be strong!  You have to have the muscle strength to support your body, your breath, your voice!  If you take that away,  your craft suffers.

This doesn't give us the excuse to gain weight for no reason - but losing weight in an unhealthy way will not help you AFTER you booked the show!  You might do the audition,  but you may not be able to endure what your voice and your body have to do in a role.  We see this so much,  and more lately in opera when singers are losing weight too quickly and cannot sustain what they did vocally prior to the weight loss.

So,  figure out your body type.  Figure out your body "stuff".  Figure out what you want to have noticed, and what you don't want noticed.

If you are told "you need to lose weight" or "you need to lose 10 pounds" - consider first how you are physically presenting yourself in the room.  Invest in a stylist appointment, or personal shopper who can help you find what works for your body and your skin tone.  Invest in a good hair cut and a makeup lesson!  ENHANCE you,  don't starve you!

Forget the pounds, and concentrate on getting STRONG,  on building endurance and stamina.  Concentrate on toning,  and tightening;  on lengthening, and strengthening!

Dress that body to match what you want to reveal in the audition room about YOU!  YOU are the magic - so lead with that - in a package that enhances and doesn't distract!

No matter your size,  claim it,  and commit to it.  TRUST your body.  Treat it with respect and give it as many possibilities as you do your craft and artistry!

Get healthy and strong - physically, vocally and mentally!  Lead with that!

Edited to add some more links to give you ideas of dressing to be 10 pounds thinner!!!






Sunday, January 19, 2014

What do I DO? What do I NOT do?

Sunday musings...

After many years doing auditions in multiple genres,  speaking to many casting directors,  directors, producers,  working with singers/actors to prepare for auditions,  I feel I can address these questions.

We would hope so much of this is common sense, however, since the dawn of the American Idol mentality,  people show up at auditions who truly aren't prepared,  and frankly, have no business at the audition.  Period.  Yes, I said it.

What do you DO in the room?

Are you studying your craft?

Do you have an audition book that is well marked,  with music cuts that are chosen because they show what you DO well?  Are your cuts in the right KEY? 

Do you have your resume and head shot in HARD COPY stapled back to back in case the team at the table needs it?

Are you dressed appropriately?  Do you know what appropriately is?

Have you chosen your cuts to show specifically what evokes the show/style/character you are wanting to be considered for?

If you do not know what you want to evoke or what you want to reveal in the room,  then think again.  If you are confused or ambivalent so will the team.  YOU control that room.  Make your decisions clear and firm and commit to them!

I would think all of these are common sense, but alas, they are not.  I have seen and heard about people walking into an audition without music,  without a head shot,  not dressed properly,  not prepared vocally or musically,  not, not, not...


You have so much information at your fingertips.  Literally.  Why are you not making the best of any opportunity you have?

I know many of you are - but come on the rest of you!!!

What does the genre of your audition require???? Be it opera or music theatre or straight theatre or cabaret - know what that requires.  Period.  And do it.  Period.

So what NOT to do?

Do NOT apologize.  Ever.

If you know enough to apologize for it,  then you know enough to have fixed it prior to the audition.

"I am so sorry I forgot the music"

"I am so sorry I forgot my resume/head shot"

"I am so sorry I am so sick" cough cough cough.

"I am so sorry I am not what you are looking"


Not apologizing doesn't mean you give attitude.  Know what you are there to do;  DO IT. 

If you are too sick to sing, don't go to the audition.

If you are not prepared to audition, don't go to the audition.

If you don't have your materials and they are needed,  get thee to a Kinko's and print them off!

Yes, you can say "my apologizes - I have somehow misplaced my head shot, may I print it off and drop it by after I sing for you?"

Wait for the answer.  Accept the answer.  Don't keep apologizing!!

If you are sick,  but not sick enough to cancel,  it's okay to say "I'm dealing with a slight cold, but I didn't want to cancel at the last minute."

You don't have to keep coughing or going on and on about it. 

Ongoing apology in the room sounds like excuses.  If you look like the singer that is always full of excuses, nobody wants to work with that.  Suck it up princess.  If you are there, just do your best. 

If you don't think you are good enough,  that will read in the room.

If you are auditioning for the wrong character, with the wrong material,  you shouldn't be.  Learn how to discern.  Learn how to see yourself objectively.  Learn what you actually DO well, and do it.  Don't do what you would like to do well.  Do what you DO.  RIGHT NOW.

Know what you want to reveal in the room and simply reveal THAT.  Nothing more nothing less.  Leave the baggage at the door.

Don't try to stay in the room longer than the team wants you there.  Trying to chat or ask questions, if not instigated by the team in the room,  is not your place.

Do your work,  be gracious,  be professional,  be respectful of the TIME (yours AND theirs),  be respectful of the PROCESS.  It is yours after all!

Do not make excuses.  Do not blame the pianist,  or the acoustics in the room,  or the size of the room,  or the CD texting on his/her phone,  or that it was 10 a.m. and not 2 p.m.,  or that you didn't get enough sleep,  or didn't have enough coffee.  Nobody cares.  Yes,  bad acoustics can suck;  learn how to sing well to find your physical acoustic.  Yes, some members of the team look like they aren't paying attention: trust me, they are.  Yes, sometimes we have to sing at times of day we aren't happy with.  Big deal.  That's the gig.  Sleep? Coffee? Up to you.

Do not try to be too familiar with the team.  Even if you know them,  or have sung for them a million times.  This is still a professional situation.  You aren't out for drinks or coffee.  Again,  respect for the process is key.  You are there to AUDITION not to apologize, to visit, to be buddies.

Use your common sense.  Find out what you need to do,  and what you don't.  If you don't know, ASK!  Use all the resources that surround you. 

Embrace the process, and show yourself in the best possible light,  no matter the details.  If you are prepared,  the "do nots" are simply not relevant.  The "dos" will be there, because you have worked for them.

Audition with purpose,  not with apology!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Welcome 2014! Goals & Processes!

Happy New Year!

This is always a somewhat melancholy time for many of us...and an opportunity to allow clearing the clutter (literally and figuratively) and discover what we want to focus on at the beginning of this year.

I read a great article this week http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230333.

It looks at the difference between goals and systems.  It really spoke to me. 

We all have goals.  Yet, somehow, it's not always easy to reach them.  We aren't always in control of the goal.  But we ARE in control of the system we take on.

Committing to the process, not the goal makes complete sense to me.

I will use myself as an example.  I haven't written "this book" yet...you will fall over and hurt yourself when I have finally completed it and published it I know...

I realize now,  I was too focused on the "I will complete my book this year" instead of the process of creating "writing time" each week.

Daily schedule/weekly schedule of process takes the pressure of "deadline" off, and allows us to find the creativity to evolve.

Have you created some of your "dream big goals"?  Sometimes they seem daunting,  unattainable,  too good to be true.  However, if we work from a process,  we find the reality that supports the possibility of those dreams to come true.

Perhaps one of your dream goals is to perform on Broadway.  That is a very broad goal.  So if we start with process - dreaming doesn't get you there.  Do you study your craft regularly?  Are you auditioning regularly??? Are you getting regular call backs?  Are you trying to take classes with major casting directors to gradually become known?  What are you being recognized for?  What do you want to be recognized for?  Are you developing that skill?  that talent?  that possibility?  Have you done any professional performing?  Do you have an audition book that you can sing solidly?

The embracing of the process puts it in YOUR hands.  You have to be realistic.  Process takes time.  It takes practice.  It takes a realistic view of where you are and where you are going.

Goals are great - if you are willing to embrace the process.  I can't write a book and publish it, if I don't make time to write.  Well, DUH. 

You can't work as a professional artist if you don't work your process to become professional in craft, and in business.  Wanting it, setting the goal and not reaching it happens when the process is ignored.

Some people are big ideas people.  Some people see the detail.  As artists in the business of show,  we need to be both.  Or we need someone in our circle we trust to balance that which we do not see, and can point it out clearly.

This is why we study;  this is why we have coaches and teachers, and mentors and the like - to not tell us how great we are,  but to challenge us to think beyond what is comfortable.

What do you want????  That is the big picture, no matter the answer.

How do you get there??? Those are the details.  That reveals the process.

Sometimes the process reveals another goal.  Imagine! 

Choose to reveal the authenticity of you in every aspect of your process.  The more authentic you are,  the more your process develops,   and the clearer those goals appear.

It's your journey.  You are entitled to change your direction if your process takes you there.

Welcome to a new year to each of you!