Casting Expectations; Confusion; Racial Concerns

Special Features   Casting Expectations; Confusion; Racial Concerns
Once again, hello and thank you to all creative advice-seekers. This week I heard from two people named "confused"; one who was struggling with a new vocal technique, and the other concerned about her race. The column also explores what actors should do in two different situations in which the casting for a show turned out to be different than expected.

Once again, hello and thank you to all creative advice-seekers. This week I heard from two people named "confused"; one who was struggling with a new vocal technique, and the other concerned about her race. The column also explores what actors should do in two different situations in which the casting for a show turned out to be different than expected.

I invite actors of all ages to continue write me with any problems encountered at auditions, in class, or anything you feel could be standing between you and your talent. Make sure to check the previous columns to see if your question, or one like it, has been answered already!

Hi Blair,
We just had auditions for the musical we do in the fall. I was up for the lead role in this show. I got through the initial audition and I got through the callbacks. I was really excited about getting it and I was auditioning very well. I was going against two other guys for the role. One guy could almost sing the role but wasn't that strong. The other one totally was not getting part of a song from the score that we had to learn. The singing to be quite honest was horrid!!! The other guys weren't the right type for the role.
After a couple of days, the cast list went up and when I didn't see my name beside the role that I wanted, I about flipped b/c the guy who got it ... was the one that mutilated that score!!! I know that every dept. in the country has politics but this one took the cake!!! I was still cast in the show, but it was painful to sit there and listen to him TRY to do the role that was meant for me. If this guy was an equal in talent, I would congratulate him. I'm still doing the show ... I've taken the weekend to calm down from my vehement rage. Have you ever been in a situation like this??? I know that this is one ugly aspect of our business. My friends tell me that things happen for a reason and I'm trying really hard to find it right now!!! What advice can I get for this situation???
Removing knife from back,
"Fat Vito"

Dear Knife-Removing "Fat Vito",
Hello my old e-buddy -- the very first inquirer to have a question published in the column. I'm sorry that happened to you.

I do understand and I did have a situation similar to this in college, too. It was my senior year, and my acting professor was directing a mainstage production of Chekhov's The Three Sisters. Everyone, including myself, thought I was going to get the role of Masha, the role I wanted. In fact, I built my expectations very high, as I was convinced I was the best one for the role, and had heard from someone else that my teacher had mentioned my name with a wink to this person the year before when he announced he was directing it. Even the students participating in and watching the callback auditions applauded after my scene and thought I would get it. One of my girlfriends in the class, who thought our teacher totally overlooked her during callbacks, was so mad at me after callbacks that she wouldn't invite me over to her gathering afterwards.

The next day on the cast list, her name was on the top.

Mine was nowhere to be found.

Anyway, in my shock and disappointment and fury, I gave myself a few days to sulk. But then I channeled it. I took all the free time I had planned to be spending in rehearsals and used it towards working on my scenes in class, and in a choreography class I took. At first it started off as an "I'll show you" kind of thing. But then I really grew. And I did some of the best work in my life. It was really exciting and very fulfilling. So if I can convince you that you won't always feel this bruised, and that things like this may continue to happen in this business which are totally out of your control -- so get used to them.

I know the "there's a reason" thing, however true, can sometimes be really hard to hear, especially when you're in the thick of disappointment and have no idea what the reason is. So keep letting it go, working hard and trusting your talent. If you can embrace the role you did get and begin to treat it with respect, it could be beneficial for you. It's possible the character you're working on will teach you a few things about performing that you didn't know you needed to learn. Congrats on getting cast!

I'm an 18-year-old, male, musical theatre major in need of some good monologues.
I have been looking for some...but every time I find one that I like everyone says that it's too overdone. I'm beginning to think that everything is overdone. Anyway, I would appreciate any help you could give in order to solve my monologue problem!

Dear ERIC,
I am familiar with the "overdone monologues" syndrome.

I have said in my columns before,it's important to go with what you are drawn to. It doesn't matter if it is done a lot, IF you can find your own connection and make it yours.

To find lesser-known monologues, it's good to go to a drama book shop near you, or to your local performing arts library, and spend a few hours flipping through scripts and becoming familiar with more contemporary playwrights and new plays. There are a few decent monologue collection books that sometimes publish lesser known pieces.

Once I found the best monologue, and to this day I have never heard anyone perform it except me. I went to the library and flipped through piles of plays, looking at the characters in the descriptions at the beginning of the plays, and then looking for speeches of the characters that pulled me. I found one that was just right. In addition, I learned a lot of playwrights' names, styles and titles. It took time, but it was worth it.

Keep looking. You'll find a piece just right for you. If someone says it's overdone, then just tell them "good speeches often are."

Dear Blair,
In a recent community theater show, my best friend and I both auditioned. We both figured he would get the lead role of Pseudolus, (the show was A Funny Thing...Forum) and I would get like Senex or Hero or Hysterium. However, the director of the show knew my friend and says he is a better actor and singer than me, but not as committed. So I ended up getting the part. He got Erronius, of all people. I have 11 days to decide if I want the part. Should I do it? What should I tell my friend?

Dear Nick,
That's a really tough situation. It's kind of the flip side of "Vito's" situation.

The first lesson you can learn here is kind of obvious. Don't spend time before auditions guessing with your friends what parts you're gonna get. It's simply dangerous. You just never know.

I think if you want the part you should go for it. Your getting the part really has nothing to do with your friendship. You didn't DO anything to hurt him--you were just being who you are. Unfortunately, it might be easier for him to blame his not getting the lead on you, rather then face his lack of commitment. If he gets mad at you, it's only his way of managing his own disappointment. It's a human tendency that's really not the easiest to deal with, but if your friendship is strong, it will survive it.

If you were to not take the part because of him, you would be sending a defeating message to yourself which says, "It's not okay for me to be bigger than my friends, so I just won't be". Many people thrive in this biz by taking advantage of others, and can be ruthless in order to get what they want. While I don't condone that, I certainly don't advocate taking advantage of yourself in order to be "nice".

I hope this helps--it's a fun play, so if you do it, have a great time.

Dear Blair,
Hi! I am an actress and am Asian--to be more specific, I am a mix of Indian, Arab, and several other ethnicities. My question is whether or not this would be a significant impediment if I chose to pursue a career in acting. Thank you for your time! smile

Dear Confused,
Please don't let your ethnicity deter you from following your dreams. Especially at this great time when there are so many opportunities for minorities in the arts, and many theatres all over the country are embracing non-traditional casting.

As a result of your exotic blend of heritage, you have a unique experience and I'm sure it would be a great addition to any role.

Dear Blair,
I am 16 years old and I have been taking voice lessons now for two years. I live in a small rural town and finding a teacher was very lucky. I recently attended Camp Broadway in NYC and had an extraordinary lesson while I was in the city. Everything made so much sense to me, and I was so happy and confident with that teacher. In that one hour I learned more than I have ever learned from my other teacher in two years.
I am currently facing the process of auditioning for college admissions and I am very worried. I think that if I had a teacher like the one I had in the city I could prepare very well for the auditions and do quite well. So, now the question is: What do I do? There are no other voice teachers around me, and I need to do a lot of work. Should I stay with her and hope that things will work out and I will learn from her?
I do need someone to help me prepare for these extremely important auditions...and she seems to be the only option. I think that at the stage of confusion and frustration I am at now, no musical theater program will want to look at me.
Thank you,

Dear confused!!!!!!!!,
The first thing I would advise is not to worry about it so much. Worry is natural, yet it also takes a lot of energy and can blur your focus.

So -- you learned some new things with this new voice teacher. Trust that the new things you learned are sinking in. It's a good sign that you're really in the process of learning.

If you are able to get to New York, try to book only one or two lessons with the new teacher and just work with the old one as a pianist, basically, so that you can practice and have someone listen.

Another option is to continue working with your old teacher, and share with her the new things you learned. Explain to her that you would like her help in continuing to develop those new techniques. Hopefully she will cooperate.

It also might be a good idea to stop thinking that you'll never get into school, or that because of where you are in your vocal process, "no musical theater program will want to look at you." Even professional singers think they have a lot of work to do. The process never ends!

Best of luck.

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