Okay, so on Friday 4th January, I had my first audition of the year for one of London’s top Drama Schools for the Musical Theatre course; Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.
I’m not going to lie, it was one of the most daunting (yet really fun!) experiences of my life so far. Particularly seeing as I had to travel to London and find my way around by myself… a big task for a small town Northerner. But somehow I managed it without getting lost or being late – I must be a Londoner at heart 😉
Anyway, the audition went surprisingly well considering I had been blessed with a lovely cold and one deaf ear since Christmas Eve!
Once I arrived at about 10am (ish) I was given a little badge with a number and my name on, so that the audition panel knew who I was. There were about 26 other people there, after a few just decided to not turn up… WHO DOES THAT?!
At 10.30am we were all taken across to another of their buildings, where we spent the day, fearing for our lives. At least I did anyway… We all did a short vocal warm up, and then we were split into two groups based on our dance ability – Beginner or Advanced. Now, I wouldn’t call myself an “Advanced” dancer, but the criteria was that if you had any experience or dance training, you were to go in that group… “Kill me now”, I thought to myself.
Actually, it wasn’t that bad. However, it had just been Christmas, and my stamina was definitely feeling the wrath of all of that Christmas food… I felt as though I may die during the cardio warm up… “Just keep going!”
I pushed myself to the extreme. After all, you only get one chance, and I wasn’t about to let it all slip through my fingers. You wouldn’t believe that some of the people in that room had been training in dance… no offense to them, because they tried, but they were not all that brilliant… it worked to my advantage though. I got a “very nice” comment halfway through the dance workshop which made me feel a bit better about myself. For someone that is used to being around dancers who are much better than I am, it was a bit of a light relief.
The short dance routine we learnt was great. It was to “Seize The Day” from the new Broadway musical “Newsies” and by god I love that musical. The routine certainly put us through our paces though – it was a killer! Asking someone with no upper arm strength (me) to go into a press-up position, then press and “up” off the floor and clap before you land back in press-up position, within two counts, just wasn’t going to happen. I just pretended and somehow got away with it!
After the dance workshop we went through to the room next door, swapping with the other group, to go and sing our solo pieces. In the helpful little handbook sent via email prior to the audition, it stated that we were to prepare two contrasting songs of no longer than two minutes in length. I chose to take “Maybe I Like It This Way” from “The Wild Party” (so did two other people…) and “Somebody To Love” from “We Will Rock You”. The routine protocol was that you tell the audition-er what you brought, and between him and the pianist, they decide what they want you to sing. One girl took “Where Is Love” from “Oliver!” and got absolutely slated…
They asked me to sing “Maybe I Like It This Way” which I was very pleased about because it was my better of the two, and I didn’t think my voice was up to singing “Somebody To Love” on that particular day. It went quite well, even though I could feel my voice croaking. One girl even said I’d managed to make her cry… bonus 😉
After everyone had sung, we were all sent back though to sit with the other group, and then the panel came in to announce who they wanted to keep on for the afternoon – tense!
Only four names were read out… mine being one of them! I was soooooooo relieved, and excited, and nervous, and every other emotion possible (except for perhaps angry and upset or anything else along those lines). Three out of the four of us (all girls) were auditioning for the undergraduate course, the other girl was for postgraduate, so she wasn’t the “competition” so to speak.
We all had to sing again, except this time both of the dance teachers had joined the panel to see us sing, and work with us. Again, they chose what they wanted us to sing. One girl had to sing the same song she sang in the morning. They made me do “Somebody To Love” (“SHIT.”… excuse the swearing, but honestly, there were no other words). I think my voice had warmed up a bit more by this point, because it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but they stopped me halfway through.
“Go and get a chair, place it in the centre, and I want to to sit on your hands” – Said the head of dance…So of course, you oblige, just because it’s what you do. I think it was so that she could just listen to my voice without all of the movement to see my vocal technique, and make me use my facial expressions more.
I started the song again. They stopped me at a riff this time, and the singing teacher asked me to sing the top E natural that was written instead of doing the riff. Holy crap. I have never, and I repeat NEVER been able to hit that note in my life. I sang it in my head voice (the one you use for classical singing) and they stopped me. Again.
“I want you to sit back down on the chair, hold the underneath of it, extend your back, lift your head and levitate” – Said the singing teacher.
Levitate. He wanted me to levitate. I just went along with it – one of those quirky drama school things I suppose. Then he said, “I want you to sing that E natural in the same register as the rest of the song, and when you do it, pull up on the underneath of the chair and use that as your anchor”.
I tell you, it must have been the fear that did it, because by some miracle, I actually did it. Levitated and all. I joke, but the idea of levitating helped me hit it. Without it sounding dreadful. Never in my life have I been able to belt that note! Audition test successful 😉
Next was the final stage of the audition day – the acting part. We had to perform a Shakespeare monologue, and a monologue from a post 1979 British play. I remembered them, which is always a good sign, but it’s the only part of the audition we weren’t given feedback from. This is what makes me nervous. I guess Mountview are more of a singing/dancing school rather than acting though.
Anyway, I’m still waiting for the dreaded letter to arrive at my house to tell me if I’ve been accepted or not…. fingers crossed, because I REALLY want to go!!