Friday, July 2, 2010

Cut, Cut!: When Auditions Crash and Burn

I have a love/hate relationship with auditions.  On one level, they are a necessary evil; neither the kids nor their parents enjoy them at all, but they're the only way to decide who to cast in which role.  I can sympathize, as I've tried out many times for various shows, choirs, etc. during my life.  Being on the judging side of the audition is more fun and less nerve-wracking, but it can also be an exhausting, overwhelming challenge.  It is also exciting: actors' enthusiasm is contagious and seeing the kids onstage fuels an addictive anticipation of how incredible the show is going to be when it all comes together.

I love seeing kids nail their auditions, the grins on their faces make my day.  Any seasoned performer will tell you that not every try-out goes as planned, however.  There are occasional rough patches..and then there are things that give directors nightmares.

Here is some advice for parents and kids based on the crazy things I've seen in auditions:
  • A fourth grader who has refused to wear anything but a bathing suit and red, sequined heels for the last 2 months and whose preferred method of verbal communication is barking like a dog probably needs some relaxation and maybe a therapist, not a rigorous rehearsal schedule.
  • Do NOT corner any directors in the parking lot or follow them home after a long day of try-outs to convince them your child is the star they are looking for.  Such behavior will likely result in a restraining order rather than a lead role.
  • Make sure your child learns the lyrics to his vocal piece.  The judges WILL notice if he sings "watermelon, watermelon, watermelon..."
  • If you can't cry on command, don't pick a monologue that requires it.  DEFINITELY don't swipe the cinnamon breath spray from your mom's purse and spray it into your eyes right before you perform.
  • A note from the pediatrician giving "permission" for your child to perform in a highly choreographed show does not change the fact that her broken leg will be in that cast for most of the rehearsals.  When the director points this out, "But she has crutches!" is not an answer.
  • Being cute is great, but being able to carry a tune is mandatory.  Sorry, this is a musical.
  • Adult content in monologues and vocal pieces is unacceptable. graphic dancing is disturbing and wrong.  This is even more true if the child auditioning is FIVE.  The same goes for portfolio photos.
  • Be careful when explaining characters to kids or your first grader may tell the directors that she wants "to be the stoned cat" in Alice in Wonderland.
  • Resumes and portfolios are no place for nicknames, especially if your moniker is "Poopy Pants."
  • Parents: Under no circumstance does the explantion "I forgot to take my anti-psychotics this morning" excuse your erratic or insane behavior.  EVER.
Any questions?  Remember, the audition should be memorable..but not in a way that makes me shudder.