Girls gone Celibate

Our director (who’s also the theater’s artistic director) created this page for the show–sort of a mini-site. So check out the photos and character descriptions!

(PS: I have NO IDEA where the “wanting to smack me” idea comes in. Personally, I think Angustias is way more sinned against than sinning.)

Two more performances!

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Fall Theater season begins!

(And winter theater season, and spring theater season…)

So, the summer is over. Summer musicals have wrapped, scores have been put away, and costumes stored for next season. But what if you want more theater?

You’re in luck. Fall is a super busy time for auditions. For theaters that run on an “academic” schedule (Sept-May/June), this is the time they are auditioning for their shows. Big winter/spring musicals often have auditions in October/November/December. As the year turns to 2012, then the summer theater auditions/rep theater/ summer musicals are being prepped.

So if you want to break out, check out the local theater companies and see what shows they’ll be doing. See if you like any of them. I tend to audition only for musicals I really like. Plays, I’m a bit more adventurous (OK, a lot more adventurous!).

It’s a good idea to get your resume together, and to check your headshots–are they still an approximately accurate photo? Do you need more copies? It might not be a bad idea to start or revisit the audition notebook. Check your closet for audition worthy outfits, and look over those audition cuts of music! Do you need monologues? Check out libraries or bookstores for books and find some favorites. Practice them-which also means staging them.  You don’t want to just “stand and deliver.” Put copies of the resume, headshots, music and/or reading in a thin black binder so you can whip them out. Remember to put the music in page protectors for ease of turning!

For additional audition tips, see Auditioning for Musicals and Auditioning for Plays.

Any questions? Ask me in the combox!

How do you solve a problem like…

Porgy and Bess?

The American Repertory Theater in Connecticut is putting on a new version of the Gershwin American opera classic. And some people–most notably Stephen Sondheim–are not happy with it.

Why isn’t Mr. Sondheim happy? Because it’s much more of a “rewrite” than a “revival.” The director is adding “back story” which, apparently, isn’t in the original P&B. Audra McDonald, who’s playing Bess, sees her character as one-dimensional. So the powers that be are changing that. The highly-praised ending, Porgy’s “I’m On My Way”, is being tampered with in (some say) unacceptable ways.

The crux of the debate is: When is it re-staging–bringing a fresh eye to an older work–and when is it against the composer’s intentions? Sondheim states that he’s overseen several re-stagings of his works–most notably with Company and Sweeney Todd–and that he approves the changes those directors have made. Obviously he’s not against new ideas, per se. The big difference, however, is that Sondheim is alive, and able to give a thumbs up or down to what directors do to his pieces. The Gershwins aren’t. Whose to say, as the director does, that they would have changed Porgy and Bess eventually? (I think that’s a bit presumptuous–what, is she having seances with the Gershwins on a regular basis?)

Obviously, directors have a vision for their pieces. Sometimes they set Macbeth in the 1940s, and sometimes Hamlet is a modern-day retelling. These can be very brilliant. They can also be awful. But what the current production is doing is fundamentally changing the show as written. This is equivalent to what people used to do to the end of Lear–Cordelia lives! Lear lives! All is well! But that fundamentally changes what the story is about, and what the audience is meant to take from it.

One of the biggest problems I have with this is the way the director talks down to the audience. Apparently, she thinks we have the attention span of gnats. (She’s quoted in the link above.)

There is a fundamental difference between reinterpreting, and rewriting. For example: The recent production of Earnest that I was in moved up the story period to the Edwardian era, instead of the end of the Victorian era, where Wilde originally placed his story. This happens all the time in opera. Some people actually have fits about this. But really, sometimes it works. And again, sometimes it doesn’t. But we didn’t change the characters, or add extra speeches for Earnest, or anything like that. We stuck with what Wilde wrote and made our interpretations based on that.

Opera, especially, is where people tend to be very sensitive on this subject. Audiences boo interpretations and directors they don’t like. Mary Zimmerman’s La Sonambula is one example of this. It sounds like what’s happening at the A.R.T is a director taking original material and then adding/subtracting to serve her own needs and what she thinks “today’s audience” wants.  As an audience member, I find that insulting. As an actress, I’d be sort of horrified. Not that a play is a SACRED TEXT, but messing with authorial intention? Not something I’d be really keen to do. I’ve been very lucky to work with directors that haven’t done this.

Bottom line: if you want to gut something, write your own version.

(And a note: In the case of Zimmerman–I have to say I like what I’ve seen of her opera direction. She gives her actors/actresses something to do, and I love her version of Armida)