I thought I was going to go into opera. In opera, you don't need to dance. You just need to sing. So when I made the change to Musical Theatre, I suddenly realized how behind I am on my dance training.
Last week, I attended an audition for a show that focuses heavily on both singing and dancing. After the singer call, they seemed to like me - at least, they seemed to like me enough to ask me if I could dance. Now, my dance training consists of some afternoon dance classes in the 1st grade and two years of ice skating. Basically non-existent. (I'm working on it, though!) Anyway, they called me back to dance the next day (to be honest, I feel like a random high B will get anyone a call-back).
So there I was the next day, dressed in my yoga pants and long-sleeve shirt among dozens of beautiful girls dressed in nude fishnets and leotards. But, see, this isn't my first audition anymore, so I just wrote in my journal and minded my own business. After 3 hours of waiting, they asked us to go in. It was a group of 30 women, all called back for the same role. The routine given to us was, as described by the choreographer, half show-girl and half Latin.
And then it began. Kicks and turns and ball changes and stuff I have never heard before were thrown at me. After the first couple of tries, I realized I'm drowning in the deep end. Why did I attend a dance call when I obviously can't dance? Before I could beat myself up for it, I remembered what my friend had told me the night before: If you can't do the routine, then act the hell out of it. So that's exactly what I did. I was called in the first group to dance. I got lost, but I gave them my best character.
We did the routine two times, and I was getting ready to be dismissed to the side of the room when the casting director called my name. "Kathee, can you do a single time step?" My first reaction: What is a time step? Turns out, it's a standard tap dance step, and I had no idea what it was. "If you can't, just say no. It's okay," the casting director said kindly. I guess he saw me panic. "Nope," I said, and my resume was immediately put in the reject pile.
Well, that was that. The moral of this story? I need to get more dance training, fast. But also, I evaluated how far I've come in just one month in New York. I didn't beat myself up. I didn't get disappointed. I got a free dance lesson, and now I know what a dance call looks like. So it's off to dance classes I go, and I couldn't be more excited.
When I was auditioning for colleges four years ago, I was lucky enough to have been offered a practice room 15 minutes before my audition at all of the locations. Of course, when auditioning to be a classical voice major at a college, you typically audition in the music building which contains an abundance of sound-dampening practice rooms. Then, when I was auditioning for Avenue Q at Rhino Theatre last December, I stayed in my car and warmed up before I went in. And then, just last month, I went for my first audition in New York City. Being that it was in a studio, I did not have the option of warming up (after the initial morning warm up) in a practice room or my car. I ended up going into the girls' bathroom just to do some sirens in private.
I came home after the audition and went on Facebook. In what was sure to be creepy proof that your phone listens to you and tracks your every move, an advertisement for Beltbox: "a portable voice dampener for performers" popped up. It claimed to let you "take the warm-up room with you" and is great for "warming up in the shower." Okay. I'm intrigued.
Three days and 50 bucks later, the Beltbox showed up at my door in an Amazon box. The back cover claimed to allow the user to:
The box came with the mask as well as a carrying pouch and a hands-free strap (not pictured). Excited, I promptly put it through a rigorous test by singing my whole senior recital program into it (not really, but basically). Here is what I've found:
For Musical Theatre and Contemporary Music:
For Classical Music and Opera:
The Beltbox accomplishes what it sets out to do: dampening your voice. I've used it a couple of times when other people were napping. When they woke up later, they did not report hearing my practice sessions. It has also made it easier for me to practice my belting due to the small pressure build up within the mask.
As to whether it is worth its $49.99 price tag, it depends. I think if you are a musical theatre performer or contemporary singing, this would be great for you. You'd be able to warm-up without disturbing others and hone your belting skills. It would also be great for high school and college students, or anyone living in an apartment. If you're a classical singer, however, I'd pass on this. The sound reduction is minimal and it messes with the breathe. Ultimately, I shouldn't have been surprised that this nifty little mask favors the contemporary singer. It is called BELT-box after all.
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I went to my first real life NYC musical theatre audition this week and it was terrifying. I would like to preface this story by saying that I have indeed auditioned before. (That's how I got into college...) But I haven't done a lot of musical theatre auditions, and I've definitely not auditioned for a production that's not community theatre.
I got up at 5:45am that morning to catch an early train into the city, since I currently still live in New Jersey. I arrived at my audition location an hour and a half before my audition appointment. Better too early than too late! Other auditions were already underway, so the halls were filled with people. I sat myself down in a comfy chair and put on my headphones while I looked at my audition song for that morning. As I sat there, I started to notice that everyone seems to know each other. And everyone had professional headshots. And a huge audition book. And were fearless.
45 minutes before my audition, I started to get restless. At this point, I just wanted to get my audition over with. I don't remember being this nervous for anything in recent memory - not even for my recitals. Finally, ten minutes before my appointment, the casting team showed up. They were amazingly kind and nice and brought us snacks. I was second in line to go in for the day.
I stood there bouncing on my toes while the girl before me sang her cut. And then I went in. I said "hi" to the accompanist. Gave him the spiel about tempo and the like. I planted myself in front of the casting table...
And I forgot my name. I literally forgot to say my name in the slate. So, after an awkwardly long silence, I announced my song, sang it way too fast, said thank you, and ran out of there.
On the train back home, I looked up law schools I could apply to. I texted my friends about what happened. Gosh, why didn't I choose something normal to do with my life? But just as I thought that, another voice in my head piped up: I mean, it can only go up from here!
And that concludes the story of my first big girl audition. I hope you laughed at it, because it is hilarious to me. And hey, at least I can rest easy knowing that however the next audition goes, it will be better than this one.