Welcome to McElrath Cabaret–We hope you enjoy our cabaret blog!
Arguably, a cabaret act is like a full-blown stage musical, boiled down to its basic and most intimate elements. The ability to perform cabaret and musical theater successfully certainly requires many of the same skills. There are differences, of course, which make cabaret very challenging for even seasoned stage performers; in musical theater, one has the protection of the “fourth wall” that stands between performer and audience. Cabaret performers have no such barrier; while a cabaret audience may be smaller, it is also intimate and requires that the performer allow him or herself to be completely exposed and vulnerable.
All of this said, many cabaret performers, novice and expert, will probably want to audition for a stage musical at some point.
Now, you have no doubt heard (and realized) that life is unfair. And if you haven’t learned already, auditioning is the most unfair thing of all. It doesn’t matter if you are Judy Garland or Howard Keel reincarnated and out-sing, out-dance and out-act everyone else in the room – if the director doesn’t think you’re right for the part - and this will happen at least 97% of the time – you’re out. Sometimes it comes down to something as seemingly trivial as whether or not you fit the costume.
There are ways to increase your chances, however – no matter how small.
Some of this is common sense: follow directions given in the audition notice to the letter, wear appropriate clothing, and make certain you show up at least twenty minutes before your appointed time.
Here are a few other tips you may not have thought of:
1. Choose your audition material carefully. Pick a song that is similar in style to one or more of those in the show, but do not sing a song from that show unless the director specifically requests it. So, if you’re trying out for the role of Tevye the Dairyman in Fiddler, don’t audition with If I Were a Rich Man. A more appropriate choice might be King of Old Broadway from The Producers. The reason: the stage and musical directors have their own ideas on how they may want a song interpreted – they may be put off if you appear to have your own ideas from outset.
2. Make friends with the accompanist. I’ve played for many auditions in my life, so I can tell you right away what my pet peeves are: floppy sheets of music that are not clearly marked, having to play out of bound songbooks that keep falling shut, and having to determine what key the singer wants and having to transpose on the spot. Have your song printed out in your key, with cuts clearly marked with a highlighter and black marker, mounted on light cardboard (like file folders) or in a binder in such a way that the pianist does not have to flip through pages.
3. Calm your nerves. Adequate preparation and experience will go a long way toward easing nervousness. Another way to do this is to spend a few minutes before going on taking deep, slow breaths – and relaxing your jaw and shoulders. It is amazing how much tension we tend to carry in those places. Finally, remember that those who are judging your performance are not gods – they are fallible, breathing, flesh-and-blood creatures such as yourself. (Rumor has it that Judy Garland – among others – dealt with this by repeating a mantra to herself prior to going on stage: “F**k ‘em…f**k ‘em…” Another performer liked to picture his audience sitting in their underwear or on the toilet. But hey – whatever works for you.)
Do you have any tips for auditioning that have helped you? Share them with us in the comments below!
Hope these Tuesday cabaret tips help–let us know what other topics you’d like to see us cover here, and we’ll do our best to work through them!
We appreciate your support!
Till next time,
ps–The Cabaret Soiree Link Party is still going strong–you can visit anytime to click on the links and see what others have posted, or you can share your own recent cabaret blog or cabaret website link from now through Thursday. Link is below.
Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:
Tuesdays: Cabaret Tip Tuesday
Wednesdays: Ask A Cabaret Question
Thursdays: Featured Cabaret Blog, Website, Performer
Fridays: Cabaret Through Time