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Director’s Brief: A Very Different Animal

Greetings from New York City!

The weather is lovely, mild and perfect for walking—which I love to do when I’m here. Weaving between people and cars, handcarts and tourists, jaywalking (!), makes me feel my New York roots.

I’m here in the auditions for Once—a very different animal from our usual musical audition week. Beyond the usual singing, dancing, and acting these folks have to play instruments. Not sort of play, but really play instruments. (Note the “s,” because it’s not just one instrument, but in most cases it is multiple instruments.)

We’re looking for résumés like the ones in the photos (see below). Look at the “Special Skills” sections; it’s in that category actors note their proficiency with musical instruments. Piano, violin, guitar, bass, cello and drums are the primary instruments we’re looking for. However, it doesn’t end there. Mandolin, ukulele, accordion, banjo, cajon and harmonica are also needed for this show. Each auditioner has multiple pieces of music to learn to demonstrate their skill level on the array of instruments required for the character for which they’re auditioning. On top of that, they need to prepare a song—sometimes playing and singing at the same time. Oh, and they have to do a scene. It complicates an already complicated process and while we’ve seen “only” about 150 people for the 12 roles in this show, it has taken the same amount of time to go through the audition process as if we had seen our usual 300-500 people! Many of these folks expand on the theatre triple threat becoming a quadruple threat—singer, dancer, actor, musician.

It’s been exciting to watch.

Happy November!

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