Inside JCPRD: 5, 6, 7, 8!

By Tim Bair

Well, it’s that time of year again. AUDITIONS!! It’s one of my favorite times of year. SO many talented people and we get to see hundreds of them! I’ve been in this business for decades, and I can say that as a director, the anticipation of finding just the right singer for the right role keeps you engaged through hours and hours of auditions. Sounds daunting, but it really is exciting!

I thought it would be nice to introduce someone that has worked with me behind the scenes many times as a production stage manager and who currently serves at the TIP administrative assistant, April Kobetz! April has sat through auditions with me a great number of times, and likely thousands of hopeful auditionees. She has a terrific perspective on TIP auditions and all they entail. Please meet…April!

“Theatre in the Park Season auditions are truly one of my favorite parts about working here,” Kobetz said. “Over the past decade, and eight Theatre in the Park productions, I have had the great pleasure to watch this talented community grow and strive for excellence. It never ceases to amaze me when six and seven year olds walk into that room with all the confidence of a seasoned performer and nail their audition song. But my favorite memories from TIP auditions are the kids who show up to their first audition shy and wide-eyed, maybe they don’t get cast that year, but they keep coming back, and they keep improving until one year they walk into the audition room and they’re hardly recognizable because now this is easy for them, they’re comfortable, and they shine. And it always leaves me with a smile on my face.

“So what exactly are we doing on the other side of that table in the audition room? Have you ever wondered why there are 20 some odd people watching you sing? Let me give you a little peek into the other side of auditions.

“Auditionees are not the only ones who have to prepare for auditions. In the weeks leading up to auditions, directors and music directors have to study the script and music for each show so that they are able to evaluate in a matter of seconds which actors and voices are appropriate for their show. Choreographers must come up with a dance sequence that gives everyone a chance to show off, but is easy enough for everyone to attempt and then they have to also be able to evaluate the ability of 600+ auditionees in moments.

“600+ auditionees you say?? Yes. 600. So how do directors and choreographers keep all of these people straight? That’s where I come in. As a stage manager I also start prepping for a show long before auditions happen because there’s a lot of paperwork that goes into organizing a giant musical. First, just like everyone else, I read the script. Then I read it again, this time taking notes on what scenes and songs each character is in. Then I meet with the team to see what roles can be doubled, how many people do they want in the ensemble, what is our rehearsal schedule… the questions are nearly endless.

“During auditions I keep notes for the directors and choreographers keeping each auditionee’s information accessible at a moment’s notice so that the director doesn’t have to wait for information. “After a couple of long days the production team has bonded over jelly beans and a common vision for the show, we have a cast list. And all of a sudden, we have a show!”

So there you are! Thanks, April! Gotta couple of hours on February 22 and 23? Pull out a show tune and come on over. Hey, you never know!