There are grown men humming to themselves and speaking in tongues. A small woman is jumping up and down on the balls of her feet like a prize fighter.
Some are drenched in sweat and they aren’t even moving. A few are talking to walls and making wild hand gestures while others have their head in their hands and seem to be praying.
Don’t worry – it’s just another night of auditions.
At the New Stage Theatreworks auditions for The Last Five Years this past weekend, we had a very talented bunch with only two roles available, so the stakes were high for everyone.
Lucky for us, we had a blast at auditions. Everyone came prepared to shine and there was plenty of talent to go around. Sure, a few people were more nervous than others – some singing less confidently than we know they can or shaking a little too much – but I walked away from those first two nights with the confidence that I could easily cast just about anyone. Yes, they were all that good – a great problem to have!
So what exactly is the director looking for? What convinces him/her to give you a callback?
Every director is a little different, but there are some commonalities among them all:
- Be Confident: We are all friends here, even if we don’t know you yet. We have been in your shoes enough times to know how it feels – but if you cannot mask the nerves in front of a few people, it is going to be tough to believe you can do it in front of hundreds.
- Come Prepared: If you come in without sheet music or struggle to remember your words, it just tells the crew that you didn’t put much effort into your preparation – which makes us think that you either don’t want the part that badly or you are over-confident to a fault.
- Have Fun: We see that “deer in the headlights” look on your face when we throw a curve-ball at you, like making you do a Jewish accent. Know that we want to see you ease into our silly requests with a smile on your face!
- Know the Show: You should have a good idea of what parts you want and what the show is about. Pick a song from the same composer or in the same style for your prepared 16 bars and come in with realistic expectations. If you know your own talent and you know the show, most of the work is done for you.
- We Are Cheering You On: We want you to do great! We aren’t here to mess you up or scare you, even though we sit behind a table and judge you every second. We want you to succeed, and even if an audition isn’t going well, you can see on our faces that we want you to be your best.
There are other things like singing in tune and looking the part and just being talented overall, but the five tips above will get you very far. We want our decisions to be tough.
And in this show, they were very tough. We could have cast this show 6 different times with 12 different actors- but we were only looking for the perfect pair.
Aron Wesolowski (a veteran actor most recently seen as Che in Evita) will be playing Jamie Wellerstein, while Adelina Mitchell (a vibrant actress I directed this spring in Catch Me if You Can) will be playing Cathy Hiatt. Halie Boling will be understudying as well for us, so she gets to learn it all and probably won’t even get to take the stage. I am supremely confident that we made the right choices and cannot wait for Tallahassee audiences to experience this show in July!
For them, all their confidence, preparation and show knowledge helped a lot – and their talent is already incredible.
So the next time you see someone looking a little crazy and humming a scale or talking to a tree, don’t judge them too harshly. Someone like me is going to judge them soon enough.