Guest Blogger: Andrew Gerle is the author of The Enraged Accompanist’s Guide to the Perfect Audition. Below is an excerpt from his blog on Theatre Music Directors.
Day one of rehearsal! Just like the first day of school or summer camp, it’s a day of possibilities, of mystery, of meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones. But for an MD, it’s also often the first day of real work.
Music usually gets taught first in a rehearsal process, so that when the director and choreographer start to put the show on its feet, the actors are at least familiar with the music they’ll be singing. While it’s nice to get a jump on learning the music, it also means that the MD has little opportunity to get to know the cast members before starting to work with them, and knowing an actor’s personality and process is invaluable when teaching them their part and helping to craft their performance.
A large part of training to be a director is learning how to speak to actors. A sculptor creating a statue uses chisels and hammers to reveal the vision in his head out of a hunk of marble; a director must use words and images to hew a coherent, truthful and moving performance from the raw material of an actor. Luckily, the actor contributes to this act of creation, but if a director doesn’t first identify the exact material he’s working with and choose the right tools, the performance (and actor) may crumble into dust.
So it is with a musical director, who must collaborate with countless actors each with their own training and process. The necessity of jumping straight into rehearsals with actors who are often strangers makes being able to quickly assess and identify each actor’s working personality a very useful ability. A sensitive music director can then tailor their approach to teaching and polishing songs based on each actor’s individual strengths and weaknesses.
Most actors need no special handling or consideration, and work very well in any rehearsal situation. There are a few Types, however, that benefit from special consideration. The following list is by no means exhaustive, and meant to be taken in the glib vein of over-generalizations. But there is truth here, and though no actor is only one of these personalities, I think we can all (actors and “civilians” alike) find parts of ourselves in at least one of these.
For more please visit Theatre Music Directors.
Award-winning New York theatre composer and pianist Andrew Gerle pulls no punches in this irreverent, fly-on-the-wall guide to everything you’ve never been taught about auditioning for musical theatre. From the unique perspective of the pianist’s bench, he demystifies the audition process, from how to put together your book and speak to an accompanist to the healthiest and savviest ways to approach the audition marketplace and your career. By better understanding the dynamics of professional auditions, you will learn to present yourself in the strongest, most castable way while remaining true to your own special voice – the one that, in the end, will get you the job.