“So, hey guys….um, we’re going to need you to cut your music down to 8 bars.”
It was a couple months ago that I came across a Facebook post talking about a Disney on Broadway audition for Aladdin and The Lion King. Immediately, I knew I had to do it- because, well why not?
This audition was for the National Tour as well as the NY Broadway cast replacements/swings/etc.
Aladdin has always been one of my favorite Disney movies, and to get the opportunity to play this part would be an amazing experience as it would for any 90s baby/theatre kid. I mean, I *was* Jasmine 2 years in a row in college for Halloween.
So I checked out the audition requirements and dates and put it on my calendar. 16 bars, uptempo musical theatre song. Easy enough! I decided on “It Won’t Be Long Now” from In The Heights- which is one of my go-to audition songs for a variety of reasons. I wanted to perform something that I knew really well and didn’t have to think much about.
Of course, a few days before the audition I get sick, right?
It’s inevitable that would happen. So I try to rest vocally as much as I can- which is nearly impossible considering the fact that I was in rehearsals for a Christmas cabaret the following week and also had to fill in as understudy of a children’s show one morning. (3 performances of screaming over hundreds of elementary schoolers doesn’t do wonders for the voice in case you were wondering.)
So the night before the audition, I’m painstakingly going over my music, making sure my cut is easy to read, picking out my outfit, etc. I’m feeling pretty good. I’m pumped! This is BROADWAY, people! Us Atlantans don’t get this opportunity much in our home city. It’s exciting to think about.
The morning of the audition comes, and I get up pretty early to make sure I look my best, am vocally warmed up, etc. Registration starts at 9, and auditions start at 10. I’m thinking if I’m there a few minutes before 9, I’m going to be good to go. Right?
So I get on the road, and my GPS tells me I’m getting close to the venue….and this is where I start to see the people. The massive. line. of. people. THIS LINE WAS ENORMOUS, FOLKS. ENORMOUS.
I figured there’d be some early-risers taking advantage of the early time but good Lord -I had no dea it would be that many. I quickly try to find some kind of parking- which was a nearly impossible feat, by the way- and make my way to the line.
I’m not going to lie to you, there was the option on the audition notice to send in a video audition- I *almost* decided to just turn back around right then and submit a video audition instead. But I soldiered on, thinking it wouldn’t be “that bad.” I found my place in line and met some nice folks around me. I helped the girl behind me pick out a proper cut in her sheet music. She told me it was her first theatre audition ever so it felt nice to help her out in that area! It was definitely a “YAY MY THEATRE DEGREE IS USEFUL!” kind of moment.
After about an hour or so, the nice Disney staff who were basically corralling all of us and keeping us in the loop came out to deliver some important information:
“We’ve requested everyone cut their 16 bars down to 8. Thanks!”
In hindsight- I should have probably prepared for that. But I’ve actually never had to do only an 8 bar cut in the ATL theatre scene and didn’t even think about it. So at this moment I look at the song I’ve prepared and see what I can do.
I realize the word “away” takes 75% of the time of my 8 bar cut, which basically consists of this 1 sentence: “And one day I’m hopping in a limousine and I’m driving away.”
I look through the rest of my book, pondering switching my song last minute (which, in hindsight, may have been the best idea, but you know. 20/20.) but I decide to just make the cut even though it’s kind of awkward. They re-iterated the fact that they wanted us to really give it all we got in those 8 bars and get right to the best part of the song.
So I think, ok, this should be fine. It will be fine. It will be cool. It will be great. Just get straight to the belty part.
I get comfy with my 8 bars, and try to get to a secluded spot to make sure my voice stays somewhat warm-ish. The line creeps by. Hours pass. My phone dies. I realize just how terrible it is to be without your phone when everyone else around you is on theirs. I contemplate life, wistfully staring into the distance for a while. I do some stretching.
FINALLY- we made it into the actual venue.
Now imagine a bunch of Broadway hopefuls cramped together in a mirror-lined dance studio. We’re all actually grateful though to be able to sit. And I’m more grateful I didn’t wear my 5 inch heels instead of the 1 inch kitten heels I currently have on.
We’ve made it near the end! AND- I find a phone charger. Considering this audition has lasted way longer than expected it was needed in order to notify my husband that I had not been kidnapped or abducted by anything other than Disney on Broadway.
They call us up in groups of 10 to go wait right outside the audition room. They finally get to the group of 10 right before mine, and we get an announcement:
“We’ll be taking a 20 minute lunch break, just sit tight guys. Thanks!”
The logical part of me is like, “Sure, the casting directors should DEFINITELY take a break and eat lunch. I mean we want them to be well fed and happy, right?”
But the part of me that had been waiting for 5 hours just wanted to be like, “JUST EAT A PROTEIN BAR AND GET ON WITH IT PEOPLE!”
I was so close. So. Close. But- ya know. Basic human needs. Important stuff. So it’s cool.
Now the casting directors have eaten lunch, and its about time for my group to finally get up and go to the holding area! Exciting! I’m feeling jazzed and ready to do this. I’ve got all the positive mantras going through my head. Thinking “YOU GOT THIS GIRL” and feeling slight nervousness but ultimately pretty good.
Each audition seems to go by faster than the next at this point (which I find odd considering how slow the line seemed to move outside…) and I’m about to go in.
Annnnd I’m up!
I walk in, try to smile as big as I can, and hand my music to the accompanist, go over the tempo, etc. Walk to my spot. Start singing.
“Why is this tempo so off??”
“Why did I have to be sick??”
“Oh God- they think I can’t sing alongside accompaniment!”
“What is this pianist doing?”
“Is it even the pianist’s fault? What am I doing?”
“Time for the money note…aaaaaand I sound terrible”
“Aaaaand I definitely just sang over my 8 bar cut I made.”
Picked my music up, and that was that.
“Climbing Uphill” from The Last Five Years has never felt more appropriate.
Was it my best? Nah. Not even close. But you know what? It wasn’t that terrible. Sure my voice wasn’t on par and the accompanist and I weren’t really gelling- but- it happens.
While I’m not sure if I’ll be playing Jasmine anytime soon- I did learn an important lesson about always having an 8 bar cut prepared!
And to anyone else who is going to these same auditions- I hope this is somewhat helpful to you.
This was cathartic for me, at least.
On to the next!
[Aladdin photo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/safa-samiezadeyazd/post_7209_b_5064049.html]