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Know What You’re Auditioning For

January 19, 2013

I recently got a chance to see the tour of Book of Mormon here in Seattle.  First let me say: it was AMAZING.  The book is so very smart and the music is more than mere accompaniment.  I nearly cried at the end, the harmonies were so pretty.  I also almost laughed myself to death.  Trey Parker and Matt Stone are some funny motherfuckers.

While I was watching, I was reminded of an audition I had back in November.  The Book of Mormon was holding open auditions for several roles, so naturally I went.  I walked out feeling fine about what I did in the room, but also knew that my chances were slim.  (Just in case the suspense is killing you, I never got a call – although a friend of mine did get flown out to NY to audition for Elder Price.)  When I saw the show, I realized that I had done everything wrong in that audition.

I am naturally a realistic actor.  For a long time, I’ve struggled with (and feel I’ve overcome) the ability to be big on stage.  So my first reaction to any script is to play it as though it’s hyper realistic.  

This was completely wrong for that audition.

Watching the show, when they got to the scenes I’d been given to read, the actors were completely over the top.  And they had to be.  It’s what the show called for.  So much of the show (and musical theatre in general) is outrageous, over the top, and ridiculous.  Which is why it works so well.  I was none of those things in the audition room.  They probably thought I was completely flat.

This really drove home the point of knowing what you’re reading for.  If the show is over the top, you have to show them that you can be too.  Certainly always play the truth of the scene, but you can do that in a heightened way and show that you can live in the world of the play.

It is vital when preparing for an audition that you not only know your material backwards and forwards, dress appropriately and arrive on time, but you MUST know what you’re auditioning for.  Know the style, know the show, know the energy.  You have to live in that world for the three minutes you’re auditioning or else all other preparation was useless.

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