Acting in Plays, Singing/Ensemble

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Question
Hello:

When a theatre audition for the cast has an ensemble as well, what does the ensemble require from the individuals who are in it?  For example, the play "Miracle on 34th Street" has the following:
ENSEMBLE:
SHOPPERS; CHILDREN; CITIZENS; GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS; TOWNSPEOPLE

Do the cast who are in the ensemble just sing and/or dance, or do some or all have lines as well?

I thank you for your reply.

Answer
Hi, Kenneth –

Thank you for the question. I appreciate what you’re asking.

The very best thing I can advise you to do is to watch a video of a musical that has a busy ensemble throughout the entire show. Some good examples are: Guys and Dolls, The Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins, South Pacific. Check your Main Library for titles, ask about interlibrary loans. Search YouTube for excerpts.

Not every composer uses the Ensemble or Chorus the same way. The more you watch and listen – to every Broadway show since “Rose-Marie” – the more prepared you will be in determining what you will sing for the audition. An understood rule – though there are always exceptions – is to not sing a song from the show you are auditioning for.

For example, a professional audition notice for MIRACLE ON 34th STREET specifically states they want to hear a “traditional” Broadway song and suggest composers such as Frederic Loewe and Oscar Hammerstein. Research what shows those two composers wrote, pick the song you want, bring the sheet music printed in the key that works best for you or is the key required for that character. Like, Freddie in MY FAIR LADY. Freddie is a tenor. His song, “On the street where you live” goes up to High G.

Let’s say you are a tenor and want to be in the Chorus of MIRACLE ON 34th STREET or maybe HELLO, DOLLY. Then you must prove to the musical director that you are a tenor through the song you sing. The original key of “On the street where you live” is D Major. With it’s High G at the end on “I” of “I won’t care if I...” – it can be challenging. But if you transpose it down a whole step into C Major, the high note becomes F – and every tenor must have a solid High F.

See the example on this web site. Notice how the song can be transposed:
http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtd.asp?ppn=MN0052203_U4

Chorus members generally don’t have dialogue. But if what you want to pursue is musical theatre – it’s time to start looking at monologues that work for you and having them ready to go upon request.

I am a vocal coach to working singers and actors in the San Francisco Bay Area. When you want to make an appointment, contact me at:  BroadwayBelters@yahoo.com.

I am also published on:
HuffingtonPost.com -- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield
FabulousFilmSongs.com -- http://www.fabulousfilmsongs.com/category/by-sean/

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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