Occasionally young people ask me could I recommend an audition piece or an audition book, and part of me wants to say – if you have to ask, you are not ambitious enough. Most times I refer them to the various theatre schools who do exciting and fun work as well. Other times parents ask and the subtext is they consider this choice of career not a career at all and they are worried. At times their fears say more about them, than their childrens’ futures.
Now a new book has arrived from a little-known Edition Peters (www.editionpeters.com) with the imaginative title: Thank You – that’s all we need for today… No hurt there, not too much disappointment and it has the clincher of a subtitle: A Practical Guide To Musical Theatre Auditions, and it is everything it says on the cover.
Written by Mary Hammond who is a major person in musical theatre as consultant on voice to Cameron Mackintosh Ltd., The Really Useful Group, The Royal Shakespeare Company and many West End producers. She has coached actors, singers and pop stars and the CD of local warm-ups that comes with the book was recorded at Coldplay’s own studios.
The book looks at most aspects of musical theatre audition with easy to understand practical advice from choosing songs, learning songs, vocal work, what to wear, how to prepare CVs and photos and how to relax and also make a good impression.
She answers questions like – How can I stop being nervous? And the book is full of helpful tips and early on looks at open auditions for wannabe reality tv shows.
The lists of possible songs for male and female are detailed and very up-to-date. A cross section of songs and sheet music are examined in some detail as a pointer to exploring the musical aspects. What impressed me here was the songs of new or contemporary composers like Jason Robert Brown, Michael John La Chiusa, Stiles Drewe who are being taught in British drama schools.
The audition is dealt with in pleasing detail as well as agents, backing tracks, sheet music or your own pianist. Even the audition is covered. Audition panels are explained.
Theatre manners are explained as are show-reel of demo DVDs and demo CDs. Dance auditions are covered as are a cross-section of relevant websites.
An additional plus is a section of interviews with people who have and are still going for auditions like Tracie Bennett from Coronation St., Philip Quast, the Australian performer.
The vocal warm-up CD is a real plus and for the sake of this review I worked through a series of them. Still can’t sing any better but no doubt I am a better person and I don’t need the shampoo bottle as a mic anymore.
Musical theatre is an area where people want you to be good, they sometimes want you to be amazing and as the book title says it not a total rejection, just a Thank You – that’s all we need for today . . . There’s always tomorrow – Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya . . . Tomorrow is only a day away.