Monday, June 27, 2011

The Audition

This is a photo I took at an audition last week for part of the 7 Days project over on Flickr (it's fun! you should play!).  Since I knew I had an audition right in the middle of the project, I had this idea for a photo in mind.  Think of the end of the opening number of A Chorus Line, when the auditioners line up across the stage, holding their headshots in front of their faces.  That's the general idea.

Once I played around with the color a little bit, this was the end result.  And I'm kind of obsessed with how it turned out. It's not perfect.  I'm in a bathroom, and you can pretty much tell there's a toilet behind me.  The centralized color is the best I could do with the free version of Picnik.  Ideally, you wouldn't be able to see me holding the camera.  But that's okay...because I think all of that is kind of symbolic of an audition.

Rarely is the audition perfect.  If you give perfect auditions, please, write a book and make millions sharing your secret with the rest of us goobers who sweat and shake and stammer and do our best to keep from getting cotton mouthed or short of breath right before a high note in a song!

So how did this audition go? I feel like it went really well.  I always set personal goals when I go into an audition, and the weight and number of goals varies with each circumstance.  Sometimes I know that the audition is purely for audition experience.  There may not actually be a viable option for me in a particular production, but I will go....either because I want to try out a new monologue or song, get my face in front of a certain director at a certain theatre, or just to test the fates and make a director say, "Huh...she is not what I had in mind at all for this show, but let's see what she can do." 

But I also love this photo because it's a bit symbolic.  Ideally, you look very similar in person (aka "in real life") as you do in your headshot, but hopefully your headshot kind of rocks.  When you walk out of the room, you want to leave with them a tangible bit of you that reminds them "Hey, I was the short, curvy girl with the hair that you weren't sure was red or blonde or some magical combination of the two!"  But really, you're leaving them with just an image.  A small piece of who you really are as a performer.  You hopefully add to that with your audition, whether it's a monologue or a cold reading or 16 bars (carefully selected to include a slow section, maybe part of the bridge and at least one good money note), but even still...they're only getting a piece of you.  It's just up to fate (also known as The Production Team) whether or not what they see is enough to bring you back for more...or offer you a place in the production.

You know? I almost think I'm starting to like the audition process.  It's such a personal challenge. You basically get a chance to, for a few minutes, have all eyes on you. It's your chance to sell yourself.  That's why I will never understand those who walk into auditions unprepared (not having read the script of the show beforehand, not having a song selection, etc.).  YOU control those few precious moments, so do as much as you can with them! 

And at a callback or a cold reading?  You're getting the opportunity to play this role, even if it's just for a few minutes and a line or two. Make the most of it!  Make choices.  Look at your scene partner or, if you're alone in the scene/reading, really make strong choices! Even if you're wrong, let the director see that you are making an effort and, if you're cast, he or she will steer you in the right direction during rehearsals. (All of this is expanded upon in a GREAT book called, appropriately enough, Audition, which I highly recommend.)

One thing I also noticed at this last audition...please, for the love of everything good and holy and pure...shut up.  Watch what you say in the lobby.  Watch your language.  Don't analyze every second and every note of your audition loudly so that you ensure everyone around you hears about it.  Because frankly?  Nobody cares.  I know that sounds rude, but it's true.  Everyone else is concerned about one person there: their own self and their own audition. 

....not sure where I'm going with all of this really.  I've just been thinking about auditions a lot lately as the next round or two comes up for me, personally.  And I've just been kind of bullet-pointing things that are on my mind about them:

  • Be confident
  • Make choices
  • Think about what you're wearing before going (especially if movement may be involved).
  • Be nice to your accompanist.  Introduce yourself, ask his/her name, THANK them.
  • Thank everyone, for that matter.
  • Be pleasant the entire time you're there.  You never know who is watching/listening.
  • Be prepared.
....what would you add to that list?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I (Heart) Denton

(this post is cross-posted over at Music and Baseball, where I am blogging more often lately)

As I mentioned in yesterday's Life Well Lived post, I had the pleasure of spending a very lovely Thursday evening on the square in my hometown of Denton, Texas last week for Twilight Tunes.  I had plans to meet up with Rachel and Brittany and some other friends, but I got there a bit early. I wasn't the only one who wanted to enjoy a beautiful, mild evening with some great music provided by the Andrew Tinker band....

As I sat by myself up near the band (if you look closely, you can see me in the above shirt, jeans, army green hat...), I started thinking about how lucky I am to live in such a great little city, full of so many artistic outlets and talented people.

All around me, people of all ages were sitting in camping chairs or on blankets or just on the grassy lawn of the courthouse square, grooving and nodding to the incredible music.  Children were running around, hoping to get as close as possible to the band before an observant parent came up and grabbed them.  People brought picnic dinners, bottles of wine and plastic cups, or take-out boxes from the locally owned restaurants within walking distance.

This was my first experience hearing Andrew Tinker and his band and oh. my. goodness.  I've since purchased their album, "It Takes the World," but even as much as I enjoy the CD and have listened to it almost nonstop for the past few days, it's nothing compared to experiencing these musicians LIVE.

I was genuinely impressed.  When you live in an artistically thriving area such as the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex and in a small town with a nationally-renowned music program, everyone and their mother plays an in a band...has a get the idea.  It can be easy to get a bit jaded and wary when someone says "Oh you should come check out my band."  But every once in a while, I find myself truly blown away by the talent that I'm surrounded with on a daily basis in this area.

The Andrew Tinker band did just that.  Once my friends arrived, obviously my attention was turned to catching up, chatting, and enjoying the music as ambient sound...but for those 30 minutes or so that I was alone, I was able to focus completely on the music being performed in front of me.

It was just a wonderful evening with amazing friends and some kick-ass music.  It was refreshing.  Lately, I've felt an ache in my heart for the bustling cities of Boston and New York, and I've been feeling very homesick for the northeast. 

But that night, I was reminded just how lucky and blessed I am to live in a city like Denton, Texas. At the risk of sounding cheesy and was just a magical evening.  I went to bed so very happy and fulfilled that night. 

Denton?  I heart you. So very much.

*please note that all photos in this post, minus the one directly above this disclaimer, were taken by my friend Jim Wall.*

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The World According to over!

One of these days, maybe I'll learn how to post blogs in a timely, before the show opens and then closes before I have a chance to sit down and say a word about it?  Hmmm....don't hold your breath.  ;)

So, Snoopy!!! has opened and closed.  It was a really successful run at the Campus Theatre.  We didn't sell out any performances (a first for me on that stage since early 2009, actually!) but our audiences were delighted with the show -- especially the younger members of the audience -- and positively delightful after each show.  I have never done a show aimed for younger audiences before, so the whole "going out in costume and signing autographs as my character" thing was brand new to me.  The kids were SO sweet, and the parents were so thankful to us for taking the time to pose for pictures and sign autographs for their children!  It was a really special experience.

That being said...I think this is probably the first time in my history of doing shows that I have not had the post-show blues immediately after.  Maybe it's because over half the cast and production team are already close friends of mine, with whom I already spend lots of time outside rehearsals. Maybe it's because I overlapped this one with The Glass Menagerie and I'm just finally so glad to not be doing a show or rehearsing for the first time since January.  All I know is, I'm LOVING being at home and having time to go see other friends' endeavors, reading books, watching the Red Sox name it! 

I also must mention how incredibly proud I am of my husband, who made his debut as Musical Director for Snoopy!!!  I knew he was brilliant, of course, but he went above and beyond anything I've seen him do.  He worked SO hard, and when I heard compliments on the sound and obvious preparation of the ensemble in musical numbers, I couldn't help but be proud wifey.  His hard work showed through us, and I'm glad we did him proud!! 

Now!  Here are some pictures (click on photo for larger image)!  As always, a fantastic job by the one and only Lynn Michelle!

Monday, March 28, 2011

FINALLY a Glass Menagerie recap

I know, I know!  I've been a terrible theatre blogger lately.  You know why?  BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN DOING TOO MUCH THEATRE. 

Also more tweeting, more Tumblr-ing (tumbling?) and less full-scale blogging. It's just awfully difficult to sit down and write a full blog sometimes.

But I owe it to you all to have a recap of The Glass Menagerie, because a) I always recap shows and b) it was just so very special to me to perform the role of Laura. 

So, the show?  Was an amazing experience.  It was just so very different for me as a performer to not rely on my singing ability (not meant to sound arrogant, of course, just know where my strong points are) to carry me through a show.  And Tennesee Williams is kind of the meat and potatoes of theatre, so I had to really put my Literary Pants on for this one.  I really wanted to do it justice, and make Mr. Williams proud as well as do my cast and director a solid and make them glad they cast a newbie in such a heavy show/role. 

Every single night, after the show, I would just be exhausted while driving home.  Playing Laura was an emotionally draining experience, and I feel like that may be some testament to how much I cared about it and how hard I worked.  It certainly wasn't physically demanding.  But baring myself emotionally like I tried to do every night was exhausting.  Luckily I had an amazing cast around me and one hell of a support system from them, the production team and crew  (David, Doug, Faye, Cody, Paul) and all the other LCT Volunteers that just made me feel so welcome (Johnny, Donna, Deborah, Keith...all of you). 

Rather than post a million production photos, I decided to make a video slide show.  All photos were taken by Deborah Roche, and the music is a song called "Au Milieu" by my friends in the band Manic Bloom:

Now to my cast:

Keegan -- I so much loved meeting you and getting to play your sister.  I really feel like we honored the relationship between Tennessee Williams and his sister, and our scenes together were my very favorites in the whole show.  I really hope we get to re-create that awesome onstage chemistry together some time soon, and I hope we get to work together LOTS more.

Victoria -- I can't believe it's seriously been 10 years since the one and only other time we worked together, and I am so glad that we got to both put on our Serious Actor Pants again with this beautiful show.  I'm still not quite over the post-show blues from this one, and you're a big reason for that.  I miss talking to you and sitting next to you getting ready for each show and rolling our eyes at how "stupid" Dave and Keegan are.  MUST WORK TOGETHER AGAIN SOON.

Juan -- I am so very proud of the work you did for this show.  As the Gentleman Caller, it's probably easy to feel like you're not as important a part of the show, but you allowed me to show a completely different, lit-up and alive side of Laura as that scene grew (before you totally crushed her heart, of course...LOL).  Thank you for opening yourself up to some potentially awkward first time stage kisses...I hope they weren't too gross.  ;) 

Dave -- O Captain, my Captain!  Thank you so much for casting me as Laura.  I absolutely loved working with LCT, and you were an amazing director.  Thanks for trusting all of us so much and letting us explore and then gently and subtly guiding us into the characters you had dreamed of us becoming...and also for trusting us when we maybe caused you to re-think some things.  You're amazing, and I can't thank you enough for the opportunity.

Friday, March 4, 2011

That Explains the Fiddle in the Wings

"In memory, everything seems to happen to music."
— Tennessee Williams (The Glass Menagerie)

Don't you love how sometimes hearing a song will immediately take you back to a particular place and time in your life? Smells can often have the same effect on me, but not quite as much so as music does. Sometimes I'll even swear that hearing a song can trigger memories so strong that I can actually smell smells that are related to those memories. Weird, huh? But it's true.

I realized the other day on the way to a rehearsal that some of the shows that have been the most important to me have songs associated with them.  Now, since I've mostly done musicals, one might assume that I mean songs from the production.  Not so much.  In some cases, it's a song we'll have used for dance warmups from rehearsal #1, so I naturally associate the song with the show.  In other instances, however, it's just a song that was really popular during the weeks/months that I am in the rehearsal and production process for a show.

I'll hear one of these particular songs, and I immediately and subconsciously conjure up feelings and memories from that production: the feel of certain costume pieces, the smell of hairspray and stage makeup, and even more intangible things such as the way certain scenes and certain people made me feel. 

It's all so vague and cerebral that it's hard for me to put into I'll assume that you know exactly what I mean.

Here are some songs that remind me of particular shows, in no particular order:

1. The Ting Tings' "That's Not My Name"

This song always reminds me of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  See? Why on EARTH would this song make me think of DRS?  Well this is one of the first songs I downloaded into my "workout mix" when I really started trying to lose weight, and Muriel was the first role I got after the Weight Loss Journey began.  I learned that one of my songs was to be performed while I was wrapped up in nothing but a bed sheet, so I stepped up the workouts pretty hard core!

2. Cascada "Every Time We Touch"

Oh my gosh I love this song SO MUCH and it still makes me have mini solo dance parties in my car.  I absolutely cannot sit still during this song.  We used this for our dance warmups during Crazy For You and it also started off the "Sexy Playlist," which we played in the girls' dressing room.  The Sexy Playlist was a CD full of songs that the girls in the cast and I put together to get us feeling all sexy and awesome before the show.  I still listen to this playlist at least once a week.

3. Flo Rida feat. David Guetta - "Club Can't Handle Me"

This song always makes me think of The Producers last summer.   My BFF Shelly and the show's dance captain and fellow cast member, Casey,  introduced me to the TV show "So You Think You Can Dance" and we spent an evening catching up on a bunch of back episodes and one of my favorite choreographers was the Tabitha & Napolean couple (aka "NappyTabs").  They choreographed a short combination to this song for Dance Day 2010, and Casey and I decided to learn it.  She did a LOT better with it than I did....but it was still fun! 

4. Mumford and Sons -- "Sister"

This song will always remind me of my current show, The Glass Menagerie.  One of my castmates, Keegan, burned me a copy of the Mumford & Sons CD "Sigh No More," and I absolutely am in love with this band.  We also use this song for curtain call for the show, and the lyrics are just kinda, I don't know, PERFECT.  So of course I had to download it, too, and I know that every time I listen to it....especially over the next few weeks when I'm dealing with the post-show blues for this one...I'll think of my amazing cast and crew of this show.

Speaking of my current show...

THERE ARE ONLY TWO PERFORMANCES LEFT!  Tonight (March 4th) and tomorrow night (March 5th) at 8pm at Lakeside Community Theatre in The Colony, TX.  You definitely will feel like a giant tool if you miss this one, because it's awesome.  So come see it!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Play is a Memory

This weekend was the opening weekend for The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams at Lakeside Community Theatre.  AND IT WAS AWESOME.  I have just really enjoyed working with this cast and with LCT in general.  I said in a previous post that it's been really nice to step outside of my comfort zone both with this material as well as with the venue/company, and's true.  My castmates are cramazing (that's crazy + amazing, in case you were wondering):

cast of The Glass Menagerie -- Top: Benjamin Keegan Arnold as Tom Wingfield, Victoria Irvine as Amanda Wingfield; Bottom: Juan Perez as The Gentleman Caller, Mandy Rausch as Laura Wingfield

I haven't even missed singing in this production, and I've loved getting to really sink my teeth into this role and the beauty and depth of Tennessee Williams's writing. In a perfect world, we could do a "talk-back" after one of the productions so that we could talk to the audience about all the beauty and symbolism and autobiographical elements of this play with regards to the author's own life, and then have them watch it AGAIN and really appreciate all those things, just like the cast has come to do.  But, even without doing that, I feel like if the cast understands all these things and applies them to their individual performances and really commits to the beauty of the play, then it will be enjoyable to even the audience members who haven't ever read or seen the play.

Another thing I've really enjoyed about this whole process is understanding my own process as an actor a little bit better.  If there's one thing that's to be said for having a decent amount of roles under your belt it's that you hopefully learn a little bit about yourself as a performer each time: what memorization technique(s) work best for you, how you research a character/role, and, at least for me with this role in particular, how to really let yourself be vulnerable onstage. 

Having done only musicals, and musical comedies at that, I haven't really ever had to expose and bare myself to an audience really before now.  I don't want to give away any spoilers (though, if you haven't ever read The Glass Menagerie, I am wondering how you got through your education without being forced to at least once and I worry for you...), but there is a scene where I really just cannot care how bad I look, and just releasing myself to the emotion has been really freeing. 

I would REALLY, REALLY like for my friends and family to come see me in this show, if nothing else but to come and see me because you love me and want to see me try something new...but also to see what I feel like is a pretty darn strong production with some fine acting in it. 

You have the following remaining opportunities, so DON'T MISS IT:

Friday, February 25th at 8pm
Saturday, February 26th at 3:00pm
Friday, March 4th at 8pm
Saturday, March 5th at 8pm

In the meantime (notice how I didn't say "downtime") between show weekends, I'm starting rehearsals for my next project:

I'll be playing Peppermint Patty in Denton Community Theatre's production of SNOOPY!!! which will run in mid-April.  I'm a part of a spectacular cast with a lot of old friends and a couple of new ones, and a really unbelievable production team.  Just last night I attended my first rehearsal (they started last week while I was in Hell Week for GM), and it was a 3-hour tap rehearsal!  Whew, I am already sore today, but this is going to be a really fun show.  So it's back to being busy for Mandy! Let's go!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Show Update and Why I Shouldn't Read on Airplanes

So remember how in my last post (which was LAST YEAR, YOU GUYS!) I talked about how I had been auditioning for some non-musical plays and didn't want to talk about it because I was supersitious about talking about auditions? Well...I kept going to auditions and ended up getting cast... Laura in Lakeside Community Theatre's production of Tennessee Williams's beautiful play, The Glass Menagerie!

I couldn't be more excited, and for several reasons. For one thing, I'm starting the non-musical part of my "career" with a classic. It's like starting off your musical theatre path with a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, or even a Sondheim. Basically, it's solid theatre with excellent storytelling in a (generally) clear-cut and traditional setting. Starting with the basics. Secondly, I absolutely love Tennessee Williams. In my undergraduate career, I took a class that was centered on Southern American authors (Williams, Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, etc.) and I just fell in love with all of them. It's actually a subject that I'd like to do more work/research in if I ever get an inclination to go back to school for a master's degree. And finally, I'm just really excited to be working with a new theatre, in a new space, and with a new group of people. The Campus Theatre and the companies that use that wonderful facility will always hold the key to my theatre-heart, but sometimes it's nice to step out and try something new. It's like....always getting the 7-layer burrito from Taco Bell, but ONE DAY you decide to try a Crunch Wrap Supreme. Something like that.

The cast is small; there are only four of us. So we're really getting a chance to do some cast-bonding and have a great time talking about the play, the themes, and the characters. And what a great group of people LCT has. I don't think this will be my last time working with this group...or at least I hope it's not.

So yeah. We open that show on February 18th, so you should definitely try to come out and see it! Even if it's for no other reason than to come and giggle at me trying to be all serious and "act."

So what else has been going on with me? I'm so glad you asked.

Really, besides GM rehearsals and a VERY busy time at my day job, not a whole heck of a lot...and it's been really nice. I've done a LOT of reading, both of scripts and of library books. Yes! Library books! I finally got myself a Denton Public Library card and I have been a readin' fool ever since the holiday break.

(side note: if you're on Goodreads, check me out and add me as a friend!)

Just this past weekend I took a trip to Nashville, Tennessee to spend the weekend with my very BFF of 20+ years, Shelly, and we saw a FANTASTIC band play while we were there: Manic Bloom.

I went to church with the keyboard player, Jeff, back in high school, and now that I've seen these guys play twice I can tell you two hard and fast FACTS:

1) They are EXCELLENT musicians and they put on an amazing show, and
2) They are a great group of solid, good guys.

Please go check them out, follow them on Twitter, and seriously, go buy their album, In Loving Memory on iTunes. Seriously, it's only $6 so just do it.

Anyway, back to the trip and part of the title of this post....

When I read, I tend to really delve into the storyline of a book. Or at least I will if it's well-written and captivating. The only problem with this is that I truly feel void and strange when I'm taken out of the story, either by having to stop reading for time's sake (meaning I need to get things done and stop reading) or just finishing a book. I literally feel like I've been yanked back into real life, and normally I'm none too happy about this.

Let me tell you, faithful readers, that this is even worse when I finish a book on an airplane. I already feel like a (Wo)Man Without a Country when I'm on an airplane, because I'm not really anywhere when I'm least not for very long. I'm thousands of feet above the ground and hurtling through the air with a bunch of strangers. Combine that with the aforementioned world I create for myself while reading a good book and my slight anxiety of flying in general...and when I finish a book with time left on my flight...well, I just feel really strange and empty and, to be completely melodramatic...lost. I don't like it. I was very thankful to have my GM script in my carry-on bag to read so that I couldn't get too deep into self-reflection and melancholy for the rest of my flight.

So what does that have to do with theatre? Nothing. It's just the dramatic artist in me, I suppose. I've always got my emotional and artistic antennae up, whether I really want to or not, but I guess I wouldn't have it any other way.