I spent another lonnnnng day at the Holly for our summer show auditions. I say it was long, but there was not a bad audition in the bunch. As someone who sits on the other side of the stage/table, please allow me to offer advice, comfort, warnings, etc.
These are some general guidelines I’ve come up with over the years and are not necessarily specific to what we did today.
- Callbacks aren’t clear predictors of casting. If you were not called back, it could mean that we thought you were so awesome at your audition that we went ahead and cast you in the role. I’ll admit that isn’t always the case, so read on.
- If you weren’t called back or cast for the role you wanted, it may not mean that you were less talented or did a worse audition than whoever was cast. It may mean one of many things:
- A role opposite the one you want only had a couple of options, and you weren’t the best match for whoever we cast there.
- We needed you in another role that you were more obviously (to us) suited for.
- We needed you in a part of the ensemble that demanded your specific skill set.
- You were the wrong vocal part for that role, and someone was better suited.
- You were the only one flexible enough to play certain other roles.
- The rest of the cast was older, younger, darker, lighter, taller, shorter, etc.
- Stop fretting about your audition! We have seen nervous people before. We have heard people with colds before. In some cases, we have heard YOU before. (I have a database of everyone who has auditioned for me in the last 4 years.) If you sing a bad note or get off on your timing, I want to see if you can recover from it. Sometimes your mistake will impress me more than a flawless audition.
- I understand the misconception that an audition is about you, but this isn’t American Idol. The audition is about the production staff seeing and hearing what we need to see and hear so we can figure out how to put the pieces together in the best way.
- Please don’t pump us for information, apologize for your audition, ask for do-overs, post weird things on social media, or any of those nutty things. We have a job to do, and your meddling is another way of saying that you’re not okay with our perceptions or decisions. In other words, following your audition, please don’t prove to us that you’re someone we don’t want to work with.
- If you come to an audition and tell us that you will accept any role and we offer you a role, it’s reasonable for us to assume you will take it. It’s reasonable for us to assume that you’re willing to commit time and effort to it because you showed up, filled an audition slot, provided us with your list of conflicts, and in some cases came back and were part of a callback process. In the last several years of working with community theatre, I’ve seen an increase of wishy-washiness: We offer a role and after a week (or as many as 6 weeks) a cast member will drop out. If that happens for anything other than legitimately extenuating circumstances, you should know that I’m not likely to want you in another cast.
- Read number 6 again, and keep in mind that I know a LOT of the other directors around here. If you flake out on me, they will probably know it. If you flake out on them, I will probably know it. Don’t audition if you’re going to flake out. Don’t be a flake.
- I know most of you have your heart set on a lead role, but I get excited about the ensemble. The lead roles are only a few people. More often than not, the parts that shine the most to me are the smaller ones—the people who make a little part special, or that dancer on the back row whose smile makes him/her captivating, or those 2 altos who can’t read music who know every single note cold. One person singing a solo rarely excites me. 20 people singing together in complicated harmony lifts me to heaven. I can’t name every lead I’ve worked with in the last 10 years, but I can name ensemble people from every single show. True story.
- Lastly (for now, anyway, because I may edit this list many times) know that we are auditioning with the hope that this will be the best show ever. I want to work with fun people, loving people, excellent people. Remember I said that I keep a record of who auditions? I like going through those lists and marking those names of people I’d cast in any show, any time. The magic of performance is the people. One of the things I’ve loved about the Holly is that every show brings some new, incredible people into my life. If they can sing, dance, and act, that’s all just sprinkles on the icing on the cake.