LeBlonde Blog – Chapter 10 – Holey Cast List, Batman!

Holey Cast ListThe cast list is out — sort of…Mr. D. filled as many roles as he could with the small group of people who tried out for Legally Blonde. But that’s barely half the roles. The good news is, Smalltown High’s principal talked to Cunningham High’s principal who talked to his Drama teacher who talked to her students all while the Smalltown kids were talking to their friends at Cunningham and guess what? It worked. Cunningham is going to take part in Smalltown’s production of Legally Blonde. Pfshew. Not exactly the kind of neat, tidy, well-planned inter-school collaboration you read about, but it gets the job done.

Auditions for Cunningham are next week, and then the show will, hopefully, be fully cast. Mr. D. has already held one rehearsal, with four of the leads, so at least it feels like this show will actually happen, although I suppose we won’t know for sure until after the Cunningham audition. I mean, if only three more people try out, will that be enough?

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LeBlonde Blog – Chapter 9 – Audition Angst, Casting Confusion

So auditions for Legally Blonde were a week ago, and the cast list isn’t out yet. The principals of our Smalltown High and neighboring Cunningham High did talk, and agreed that Cunningham kids could try out for the show to beef up our skeletal cast. Hopefully, they’re auditioning soon since they finished their performances of Anything Goes a week ago. But the director Mr. D. said he wasn’t going to wait for those auditions to announce parts for the Smalltown people who already tried out. What’s the hold up? Who knows. Clearly none of the adult directors remember the agony of being suspended in waiting-for-casting limbo.

croppedMr. D. said he’ll send the cast list around by email or post it on Facebook. That’s today’s way, but the old-fashioned way of posting a list in the school had its merits. The act of approaching the fluttering piece of paper, stomach twisting at the prospect of another bit part — or would it be a meaty role this time? — is pretty dramatic in itself. Then the torture of scanning the list for your name, which takes seconds but feels like hours. Finally, the walk of shame or the walk of fame as you leave the list. You don’t even need to hear what people are saying to know who got good parts — you can tell by their body language as they turn away from the list and walk down the hall to their lockers.

Then there are those directors who like to announce the casting in person. That can be dramatic, too. I know someone who auditioned for Mayzie in Seussical but the director forgot to announce who got that role so my friend was left hanging, wondering if she got no part at all while everyone stole awkward glances at each other. (I stole that story and used it in Bit Players, Bird Girls and Fake Break-Ups.)

But we don’t have a cast list for Legally Blonde yet, so let’s go back to auditions for a minute. Everyone has their own level of angst going into an audition. Here’s what Sadie in the Bit Players novels was thinking before her audition for Twilight: The Musical in Bit Players, Has Been Actors and Other Posers. (For those of you who don’t know Sadie yet, she is your average, sometimes awkward and usually self-conscious teenager, but she feels at home on the stage.)

I hated auditions because I wasn’t in charge. I was one of many, and I had nothing special to recommend me. But I wasn’t nervous. I’d auditioned enough times to have conquered the butterflies long ago. I was excited.

Walking onstage, the curtains swaying ever so slightly at the sides, various props from previous shows cluttering the wings, I was at home. Looking out at the judges, I buzzed with anticipation. And as I started to sing the first notes of my audition song, I tasted opportunity.

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LeBlonde Blog – Chapter 8 – Auditions Tanked

Auditions are over. Sort of. Only 11 kids tried out, even though 20 were on the sign up sheet. Maybe ‘cause some of the 20 didn’t actually put themselves on the list — their friends wrote their names down, hoping they would agree to try out. But they didn’t. Even by Smalltown’s standards, this was a poor turnout, and for a popular show too. I know it’s a small school to begin with, so the talent pool is tiny to start, but come on – it’s Legally Blonde!

When the show was announced, lots of kids who don’t usually do theatre said they would sign up for that show. What happened to them? Most likely, they chickened out, or decided it wouldn’t be cool, or their parents said they’re already doing too many things, or they decided they’d rather work and make extra money. All of those things have happened in the past.

At least we saw this coming, so Mr. D. talked to the principal before auditions about possibly involving another school. She thought a collaborative program would work, so hopefully soon she’ll talk to the principal at “Cunningham High” and hopefully he’ll say okay and hopefully soon after that, auditions for those students can be held. Most hopefully of all, let’s hope this show will actually get rehearsed and performed before school ends!

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LeBlonde Blog – Chapter 7 – Follow the Leader

3 portraitsAuditions are in 2 days, which means everyone is existing in a swirl of the usual pre-audition emotions: hope, fear, dread, uncertainty, anxiety, excitement, and again hope. Hope that they don’t screw up the audition — that their voices don’t crack, and they don’t stumble over their feet in the dance part or over their words in the scene reading. Hope that that girl who always gets the lead has a bad day. Hope that they’ll get to act opposite a hot guy instead of a creepy one.

Everyone is casting the show in their heads, plotting people into the roles they look like, sound like, or can handle. Once they’ve got the perfect cast set in their minds, they shuffle the deck and start all over.

But most of all, everyone is daydreaming about getting the lead — the Holy Grail of theatre.

Why does being the lead matter so much? Well, most people willing to stand on a stage in front of an audience don’t mind the spotlight. And most people who like the spotlight, really like the spotlight. They want to be in it as much as possible. As Sadie says in Bit Player, Bullies and Righteous Rebels:

Half the fun of being the lead is the build up: acting the star at rehearsals, having your cast mates look up to you, even if they’re actually criticizing you behind your back…When you’re the lead, you own the show. You’re at practically every rehearsal. If you’re not in a scene, it’s to give others a small chance to shine; it’s not like you were overlooked. After all, you’re integral to the plot. 

I know, there are plenty of good parts that aren’t the lead. Every drama teacher or director I’ve ever known says every part is important, even the ensemble, and there is no such thing as a bit part, only bit players. Well, I’ve had plenty of bit parts and believe me, being the lead is a hundred times better.

If you’ve ever had the lead in a show, you know exactly what I mean.

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LeBlonde Blog – Chapter 6 – Grandmaster Who???

Massive sigh of relief – the kick-off meeting was held, auditions are announced for March 9 & 10, and it looks like Legally Blonde will actually happen!

Next cause for panic – will enough people try out? The musical has more than 40 named roles. About 15 high school students showed up for the initial meeting. I know some people couldn’t come but plan to try out. But probably a few of the people who went to the meeting will change their minds before auditions. Would the director actually cancel the show if we don’t get enough actors?

LegallyBlondeTheMusicalPeople can double up on roles – we’ve always done that at Smalltown ‘cause it’s such a small school. In Seussical a few years ago, some people had three parts. But more than that seems tricky, unless it’s that kind of show where everyone purposely plays many, multiple parts. We definitely need more than 20 or 25 people to pull this off.

The meeting was in the school café. The mood was pretty calm, considering it was the first meeting to discuss an awesome show, and with a new, unknown director. But the seniors are all seasoned pro’s by now, so they were mellow with undertones of excitement. Actually, most of the students there have done shows before, but there were two new freshman girls, which was good.

Mr. D., the director, ran us through auditions and rehearsal plans, and handed out the list of characters. Just reading the character list is enough to get you excited:

ELLE WOODS, the quintessential Valley Girl who realizes that she has more to offer than just a pretty face and a bubbly personality

EMMETT FORREST, a smart and sensitive law student who takes Elle under his wing

But my favorite descriptions would have to be:

BRUISER, Elle’s Dog

and

GRANDMASTER CHAD, King of Spring Break

I’ve seen the musical once, and the movie more than once, but I don’t remember Grandmaster Chad…who the heck is he???

I’ll be back soon to report on auditions!

(Image from Wikipedia)

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LeBlonde Blog – Chapter 5 – Down With Middle Schoolers

We are making progress, people. The show has been unofficially officially announced (meaning it’s not a secret and word is getting around). Flyers will go up after school vacation next week, announcing the kick-off meeting on Feb. 27. So those of you who were worrying (what me, worry?) that we weren’t going to get this show off the ground, you can relax now.

middle_school_by_scotty_reifsnyder_2

Illustration by Scoty Reifsnyder from a Harvard Education website

Looks like the show will be for grades 9-12. This is a conundrum every year, because our Smalltown school is a combined middle/high school. The drama program has had every possible variation of grades over the years, from grades 4-8 to 4-12 (that was a stretch) to 8-12. Legally Blonde has some mature bits, so keeping it to high school is probably the right move.

Smalltown’s school is small — only 500 kids for the middle and high schools (grades 6-12). So the upside of including middle schoolers is more cast members. But middle schoolers can be a pain, not fully matured emotionally, mentally, or talent-wise. But you didn’t hear that from me.

Here’s how the Crudup Drama Club responded to the addition of middle schoolers to their program, in Bit Players, Bullies and Righteous Rebels, the second book in the Bit Players series:

“We’re allowing students from the middle school to participate this year,” our director Mr. Ellison announced, enthusiastically.

(Five seconds of silence. Explosion of simultaneous comments.)

“Ugh, middle schoolers!”

“Why are we doing that?”

“You think that’s a good idea?”

“They’ll slow everything down.”

“Seriously? That’s going to suck. They’ll ruin everything!”

“Yeah, and they’ll steal parts from the ones who’ve been doing this since the beginning,” said Ben, jamming his glasses up his face with extra force.

“Easy, easy,” Mr. Ellison said, control of the situation slipping from his grasp. “We could do with a few more people. This will be a good thing.”

“Wait a minute,” Jocelyn said. “Doesn’t the new music director have a daughter in eighth grade? That obnoxious one who thinks she’s Selena Gomez? That’s why we have to have middle schoolers in the show, isn’t it?”

“My little sister’s in her grade. She says the girl – Ada, I think – insists she got an audition with The Disney Channel,” Ben said.

“Yeah, right. It was probably one of those scams where they charge you five-thousand dollars to go to a workshop and then tell you to go home, they’ll call you,” I scoffed.

“Which they never do,” said Kristina. We shared embarrassed glances, not caring to admit that both of us had bugged our parents to let us go to those very same workshops when we were younger…

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LeBlonde Blog – Chapter 4A – Still Waiting

Ohhh, as it turns out, the school STILL hadn’t mailed the check to MTI as of a few days ago, so that’s why there hasn’t been an announcement about the show or auditions. But, they have assured everyone the check is in fact now in the mail. Yes, the school check-cutting process can be frustrating, as can delays of almost 3 weeks. But, that’s OK. With performance dates in late May, there is still plenty of time to put together a rockin’ show. Let’s just hope the check doesn’t get lost in the mail…

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