Acting in Plays, Singing/Theatre Auditions

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Question
Okay, so, I've been stressing over this for quite a few weeks now and I finally decided to ask. My first big play audition is in two weeks and I really need some help. The play is Narnia and I am auditioning for Lucy (I'm eleven by the way.) I've practiced and practiced and I still can not connect to the character. How do you get in character and make the audience (in my case the audition people) really believe the act, like, how do you make yourself sound believable or act well?

Also, I've auditioned for plays before and I knew the characters very well but when it was time for the auditioned I messed up and stuttered. How do you keep yourself from being nervous??

Answer
Hi, Savannah --

Thank you for the question.

While there is no one absolute answer to your question, here are a few points you may want to consider.

I’m sure you are familiar with the film, THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939). Judy Garland was seventeen at the time the film was made. In spite of the pig tales, the breast-binding, and pouty expressions – she looked seventeen. In her next film, BABES IN ARMS, released the following month, she played a full-fledged young lady in love – who, in most states, would not have needed her parents’ consent to get married.

Author Frank Baum’s “Dorothy” is actually ten years old, probably closer to 11. The original plan was to cast Shirley Temple in the role, who was exactly that age at the time and #1 Box Office money-making star. All of her roles were courageous characters who stood up to every challenge and every variety of adversity, bad guy, loss of family (particularly the father figure), and social catastrophe (like the Depression). At the conclusion of these films, she was everybody’s heroine. She would have been perfect in the role of Dorothy Gale as created by the author. But MGM decided to re-invent the author’s entire concept. That also accounts for the lack of a sequel – Judy would have been way-too-old.

“Lucy Pevensie” is around eleven. Had the role been available back in 1939, Shirley Temple would have been the perfect choice. She was a very determined young girl who had a natural aura about her that attracted just about everybody. All she had to do was memorize her lines, show up on time, follow the Director’s orders, and not bump into the furniture.

What does this have to do with you?

Let’s say this production was for a major company. The moment you enter the room to deliver your audition, before you open your mouth, the Producers are going to know if you are what they are looking for.

It’s not about you evolving into a “character” that you – as an actress – can get behind and then hypnotize the audition panel into hiring you. Lucy Pevensie is just another role for a very determined ten or eleven year old who has a winning personality, projects it to the last row, and doesn’t freak-out during an audition.

Simply stated, it’s YOU they will be hiring – who you are right now, not something that has to be invented and programmed over the next six weeks of rehearsal. That is the hardest thing for most actors to accept.

Your nerves and anxiety are about selling You and the way you are right now – no matter what role or which company you are auditioning for. Even though you may be the most “prepared” person in line, that is why you stumble.

If you suddenly walked through a closet door, a looking glass, or fell down a rabbit hole and suddenly found yourself in NeverNeverLand with a witch standing by a spinning wheel next to a basket of poisoned apples – You would have to use Your energy and wits to quickly figure out what to do next in order to survive the moment or at least yell your way out of it. Like confronting a cougar on the way home from school. The advice is to just look and act bigger. But, how?

I’m sure your family and friends have seen you in defense mode and would understand what I’m talking about. They would also be the first to recognize if you weren’t being and sounding like Yourself on stage – right?

The rest will be about whoever shows up at the audition and is willing to work without a salary, lunch, or bus fare.

I am a vocal coach to working singers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I'm also a music critic for HuffingtonPost.com – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield. When you want to make an appointment, contact me at:  BroadwayBelters@yahoo.com. I am also available for sessions on Skype.

Below are links to my recent articles and interviews:

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/zuill-bailey-triumphs-in-_b_46339

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/mezzosoprano-sasha-cooke-_b_44840

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/new-on-cd-as-long-as-there-are-so

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http://www.examiner.com/article/a-conversation-with-ben-jaffe-of-preservation-ha

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield/a-conversation-with-lucas_b_43078

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Best regards,
Sean Martinfield

Acting in Plays, Singing

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Sean Martinfield

Expertise

I am a professional vocal coach in San Francisco. I have published over 3300 responses related to vocal training - particularly as it relates to Musical Theatre, Pop/Standard, and Opera. I have 30 years of experience as a personal trainer to working singers and actors in the San Francisco Bay Area. I sang professionally for 20 years and know what it means to live the life of a musician. I can determine your voice category, i.e., Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Alto, Alto Belter, etc., and how to broaden and strengthen your range. Need an audition song for a Broadway Musical? I can assist you with your song selections and help you build an audition portfolio that demonstrates your vocal category and meets the requirements specified in the audition notice. I have created a vocal methodology, "The Belter`s Method". It will enable those in Cabaret and Musical Theatre to practice more efficiently because it focuses on the vocal demands of professional performers and will keep you performance-ready. If what you want is a better voice and more control over your career moves and choices, contact me at: BroadwayBelters@yahoo.com I am also a music and cultural critic for HuffingtonPost.com and Examiner.com. I interview internationally recognized musicians, singers, dancers, and recording artists -- particularly those who are now appearing or scheduled to perform in San Francisco.

Experience

As a vocal coach, I work primarily with singers and actors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. My students range from absolute beginners to working professionals, from kids to senior citizens. The vast majority of my clients come to me through recommendation. I know how to identify any singer's vocal category, i.e., soprano, tenor, alto, baritone, etc. I know how to muscle-up every singer's vocal range and to expand it beyond conventional definitions. I have developed a vocal methodology for those who want to know how to belt, THE BELTER'S METHOD. There are a number of major components to my work as a vocal coach. The first is to identify the client's vocal category and to strengthen and maximize the vocal range accordingly. Then it's about teaching a reliable vocal workout that will enable the client to gain better control of their musicianship. That includes scale work to expand the vocal range and to improve placement, breath control, and diction. Then we work on material for the audition portfolio, the immediate job or assignment, a recording session, etc. My task to is to better equip singers and actors who are hoping to or relying upon their performance skills and vocal endurance to maintain a career in the Performing Arts. My clients regularly appear in cabarets and musical productions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Some have worked in New York and gone on National Tours. For more information, Contact me at: Broadwaybelters@yahoo.com

Publications
HuffingtonPost.com Examiner.com FabulousFilmSongs.com SanFranciscoSentinel.com

Education/Credentials
San Francisco State University – BA in Theatre Arts; graduate work in Theatre, Philosophy, and Comparative Reiligion. Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley – Graduate work in Ethics

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