Last Sunday I gave a Music Theatre Workshop in Toronto with the help of the multi-talented Blair Irwin, who not only has the artistic soul, but the organizational skills (!) and the marvellous Michael Barber at the piano.
I had the privilege of working with 10 talented singer-actors - taking a song and breaking it down into the audition cut. I wanted to address more fully this process here - because it is another way of thinking and processing!
The most evident "issue" that we experienced in that workshop is that the artistic spirit often clouds the audition process. Learning your music for the business of audition is a completely different process than what we imagine as artists. We must set our artistic soul aside for a minute, in order to access the business of that audition. It will want to lead - and thank god for that! - but in times of business, it is not necessary. In fact, it gets in the way!
So business it is!
As you look at repertoire - and you learn it fully, then start asking questions, as it pertains to the audition.
What KIND of song is it? SIMPLIFY! Again, our artistic spirit will want to break it down, flesh it out, find the depth, breadth, life...NOT FOR THE AUDITION.
Remember - the audition is TO GET THE JOB. It is a job interview. We don't need your life experience, your blood, your family tree. JUST GET THE JOB. It becomes non-emotional, but committed in a very different way.
So back to the song: simplify - what does it DO? Narrate? speak about? speak to? characterize? what? decide...simply to one simple action if you can. "Narrates", "contemplates", "internalizes", "sobs", "laughs" et al.
Then, what does the song SHOW about YOU? And what do you want to SHOW about you through that song? Again, make it simple!!! Do not show us what you would like to be able to do, or what you THINK they want to see (this is a downward spiral of insanity!) but WHAT YOU DO WELL and what that song cut can do in a blink of an eye.
The most important thing is NOT to think about what "they" want to see or hear!!!! PLEASE!! You must show them what you DO.
What do you do well? What are your strengths? The honesty of that is SOOOOO important. Just like any job interview, we want to see you are right for the job, not kinda/sorta, not ill-equipped, not wrong.
Let us SEE you first - what is your type? Demonstrate that! Suggest it, intrigue us to pay attention and LISTEN.
Present that cut - what do you want to SHOW? Your high notes? Your belt? Your mix? Your story-telling prowess? Your acting intelligence? Your low notes? Your legit sound? Your musicality and line? Your comedic side? Your ability to send chills down somebody's back? WHAT?!?!?!? YOU decide!!!! BE SPECIFIC!!
If your REASON TO DO something is strong and very focused, you will go in and DO IT. You will not be waiting to see if it's good enough, or wonder what they want to hear or see. You will decide what you will be showing them, and the action and decision will be STRONG AND FOCUSED.
There isn't time in an audition to get creative - from either side of the table! There isn't time to guess or wonder...
So it is YOUR job as the performer to audition with purpose - to not be timid or afraid to show WHAT YOU DO and convince them you are right for the job!!
Let that audition BE BUSINESS!!!! Know your worth, know your product, KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING! BE WHAT YOU ARE! BE WHO YOU ARE! Prepare to show WHAT YOU DO with authenticity and clarity and no apology.
When you begin to approach your audition with this clarity and sense of purpose - the audition is then in your hands. No gimmicks. No jazz hands. Just you, your voice, your talent, and your INTENTION. What do you bring??? Figure it out, claim it, and GET THE JOB!
What do you want from that audition? You want a job. Simple. You don't need people to like you, to tell you that you are talented. You want the job. Figure out how to simplify the process to get it - and let the artistic depth happen when you get the job and have a character to inhabit! Til then, don't confuse the two.
Now, GO GET THE JOB!
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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