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If you’re still trying to figure out which songs and monologues you want to use for your UPTA and/or SETC audition, take a look at which Theatre Companies will be in attendance…

UPTA Companies

SETC Hiring Companies and Casting Needs

Look up their seasons to see the shows (and roles) for which you’ll be auditioning, then adjust your selection and focus(!) accordingly.

 

imsorry

“I’m sorry…”
*
“…that this page is falling out of my binder.”
“…this page is ripped.”
“…that when I copied this it cut off the bottom of the page.”
“…I didn’t erase the old markings.”
“…for not putting this in a binder. I hope it stays on the piano.”
“…I keep meaning to fix this page.”
*
“…I’ve never heard the piano part before, could you…”
“…I’m not sure this cut was marked properly, could you…”
“…I don’t know what this intro sounds like, could you…”
“…but I’m not sure this is the right key, could you…”
*
Invest the time, money, and effort – all of which would be very minimal – in order not to start your audition with an “apology” which could very well give a first impression of a lack of preparation.

frankencut

In the process of cutting down a song to a suitable length for an audition – whether that be in terms of a number of measures (16-32 bars) or a span of time (30-60-90 seconds) – I sometimes feel that the singer has not simply edited the song, but, instead, they have unintentionally rewritten it. It has turned into what has come to be known as a “Frankencut”.

This happens most frequently when a singer wants to showcase a certain part of their range, usually the upper half, their “money notes”. They pick the measures of the song that hover in that vicinity, and devise their cut accordingly. In the process, they eliminate the measures, the notes in the original melody that set up those high notes. They also edit out the words in the lyric that correspond to that phrase. The grammar of both the text and the music is altered.

To best illustrate this point in this post, I have used the classic song “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. I have notated it in 2/4 for demonstration purposes.

Ex. 1 – The song proper in 24 bars.

franken1

Ex. 2 – This is a 16-bar cut of the song. It has been edited in order to highlight the higher notes of the melody, the upper part of the singer’s vocal range. Notice how the melody is altered, changed. Notice how the lyric becomes just a string of words rather than a complete thought.

franken2

While this is definitely an extreme example of a Frankencut, I have played many that have come close to this.

Ex. 3 – This is the last 16 bars of the song which would serve as a good 16-bar cut.

franken3
Keep in mind is that the song that is “new to you” is probably not new to those who will be listening to you: the company reps. (HINT: Read the copyright date.) We know how the song goes: “Why did you change it?” Some cuts do work well, but there are also cuts that can perk up our ears and raise our eyebrows, and not in a good way.

Personally, I also believe in respecting the work of the Composer and Lyricist. Some of the Frankencuts that I have played and listened to over the years have essentially thrown out and ignored the craft put into those songs by the original writers. -And when I personally know some of those writers that can add a bit of an uncomfortable je ne sais quoi to the proceedings.

Since my space is limited here, the one piece of advice I would like to give in regards to avoiding a possible Frankencut is this:

-Sing your cut for someone else besides yourself and your voice teacher and accompanist. Find a set of fresh ears.
-Better yet: Give your cut to someone else, and listen to them sing your cut.

Let the reactions and feedback guide you to your next step.

3questions

THREE QUESTIONS to take us into the weekend.

question1
question2

question3
Just some food for thought, rather some food to prompt some thought(s).

Read each question.
Answer each one for yourself.
You might end up with some more questions.

cutarts

While I have appreciated and marveled at what some people have managed to cobble together with pieces of cardboard, poster board, foam core, construction paper, decoupage glue, craft scissors, pinking shears, paper cutters, packing tape, duct tape, as well as gold stars, Hello Kitty® stickers, and multiple colors of crayons, highlighters, and/or Sharpies®, there really is no need to go to all that trouble to make your sheet music presentable.

All you really need is a good copy of your sheet music, a 3-hole punch, a few pieces of scotch tape, a 3-ring binder, and a pencil. Maybe even a Post-It® note or two.

I’m also not averse to the two sheets of paper of your two-page cut taped inside a manila folder.

And for the record: I don’t mind plastic sheet protectors, and, in some instances, they can actually come in handy. -Yes, I know this seems to be a hot topic of debate amongst some of my colleagues, but it shouldn’t be. Don’t @ me.

yourslate

Let’s start at the very beginning.

“Hello, my name is Jose Simbulan. Number 88.”

I rarely have to give, to say, to announce my full name – my first and my last name – on a regular basis. In fact, I believe the only times I ever have to do that is when I give my briefing at UPTA and SETC at the start of each day. It is then no surprise that the most common fumble at combined auditions occurs during an actor’s slate, when they state their name and number.

If you are not in the habit of announcing yourself, practice saying your name. Out loud. Don’t apologize for it. Be proud of the name your parents gave you – or the name that you have decided to bestow upon yourself for professional reasons. Don’t let hearing yourself say your own name trip you up.

Your slate is not only the start of your audition, it IS part of your audition. It is, in essence, a very, very, very short monologue. Don’t treat it like a formality. Don’t throw it away. It is an introduction, your introduction. A first impression. Use those two (or less) seconds to show the company reps a glimpse of who you are, your personality, your likability. -This is especially true at SETC when the timing of your 60-90 seconds starts with the first word out of your mouth. Then we get to witness you shift gears and acting beats as you go into your monologue or song.

And then once you’re done, you get to do it again.

“Hello, my name is Jose Simbulan. Number 88. Thank You.”

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I shall be returning once again to Memphis to play for the Unified Professional Theatre Auditions (UPTA), as well as heading to Knoxville to play for the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) Professional Division Auditions. This will mark my 20th(!) anniversary playing for UPTA, and my 25th(!!!) with SETC. That amounts to about 35,000 (give or take) auditions from those two conferences alone; and that is on top of the auditions I play regularly outside of those two weekends in February and March.

To mark this joint milestone, I want to pass along a couple of things I have learned over the past 25 years. Things I have learned from and about myself as an audition pianist, as a collaborator. Things I have learned from the various company reps who sit in on those auditions looking to hire Actors for their upcoming seasons. Things I have learned from the Actors – from You.

Read the rest of this entry »

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