Tales from Frozen, plus How to Get Up at 6am for your Audition..

NYC has some exciting EPAs on the horizon and today was super cool cause we had the development lab EPA for FROZEN. Aka, the Broadway was looking for a Disney princess…

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The lab is happening in May, but they are also doing an out of town tryout in Denver next year, so there are audishes to come. In any case, it was a good excuse to watch Frozen (for the first time!) with Momma King, and put my reddish hair to good use.

Got to Ripley round 7:30am, and there was already a line of ladies- but only because the building wasn’t open yet. When we finally got to the holding room, it actually wasn’t as many people as I assumed there would be! While we waited for the monitor to do sign up, we all had time to beat our faces, curl the hair, and play with the baby that showed up (for realz. This boss of a mama came with her 2 month old in tow, because, as she said, “It’s Frozen. I had to come.”).

Got my time, vocalized at cap/monologued to the students about my casting theories for the show, hustled back uptown to Ripley (bless you, unlimited metro card), sang my 32, exercised, scarfed a bunch of brussels sprouts at City Bakery, and clocked in at work.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how exhausting the “high stakes” aspect of auditioning can be. It is like going on several job interviews a week… But auditioning is much more vulnerable. You are presenting your voice, and emotional life, and physical self over and over again, and the lack of professional affirming feedback (or what some may call, the excess of “rejection”) can get debilitating. And no one is harsher than your own inner critic. If you are not perfect (which is always:)), if you mess up, or didn’t do what you knew you were capable of, it can ruin a day. But it is essential to remember that it is just one audish, and it doesn’t set you back. There are always opportunities. And you are still worthy of being seen, no matter what.

To keep up the good fight with these open call auditions when you are exhausted by them or drained by their perceived negativity, it is imperative that you find the “Exhilarating Moments” of the audition process. Finding the Exhilarating Moments is another way of saying, find the positive. It is always sooooooo easy to lean into the negative. Anyone can do that. But it takes much more work to find the positive. If you hate auditioning, find what you love about it. Landing on the exhilarating moments of this process is what will feed your purpose and will keep getting you up at 6am to take your giant-ass backpack to sign up and get SEEN. Turn the positives into affirmations that you can repeat to yourself when you find yourself steeped in negative self-talk and worn down by the seeming lack of forward momentum.

Here are my own affirmations when it comes to the audition:

– The people behind the table are rooting for me. They want me to be the answer!

– I am meant to do this. I am meant to share my gifts, my voice and my story with the world and I have the chance to do that today.

– This is what I dreamed about as a 14 year old lying awake at night in little Pasadena, Maryland.

– I will meet a casting director today that will help me onto the next step of living the life of my dreams.

– This is my job. It’s my dream job!

– I choose to be inspired by all those around me. We are all a part of this beautiful community.

– Auditioning is fun! I get to act and sing material I love today!

 

For real tho, auditioning is super fun! I allow myself to be that highschooler auditioning for my school plays. I LOVED the excitement of it. It was always so thrilling. And how cool that this life we chose allows us all these moments of exhilaration.

Keep doing what you love!!

Ctina

Be an Expert- 3.25.16

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Amelie promo shot @ Berkeley Rep

The very first day of vocal performance class at NYU, my teacher and mentor, Mana Allen, said something that I’ve always kept with me: “Be an expert in your field.

To be an expert basically means learn everything you can about your craft and industry, listen to everything, learn about new and established composers, be up to date with theatre news and auditions… you get the idea. Just strive to be an expert. So! I thought I would start a new series all about the “be an expert” practice, beginning with the new Bway 2016/2017 season!

There is a TON of new, exciting, and diverse work being produced in NYC, and I’ve spent a lot of time fangirling over all the new musicals (and of course by “new,” I mean musicals that have been in development for years and years, as goes the process). Here is just a selection of the new musicals coming up in NYC. These are on track to open this season or next.

Tuck Everlasting: Rehearsal preview. Gorgeous music, dancing, man buns…

Shuffle Along: Nymag published a really, quite poetic profile of it’s star Audra Mcdonald.

Waitress: Jessie Mueller previews a song in rehearsal. Mind blowing.

Amelie: Had a pre-Bway production at Berkley Rep: OMG LOOKS SO BEAUTIFUL. Aiming for 2017 bow.

Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812: Music on the youtube. I’m ALL ABOUT this vid of Denee Benton singing my favorite song from the show.

Frozen: Casting breakdown came out on Playbill for the pre-Bway lab. Exciting!

American Psycho: composed by Duncan Sheik, the dude who wrote Spring Awakening. Some techno-ish pop shenanigans.

On Your Feet (open): bio-music of Gloria Estefan. Trailer here.

Bright Star (open): Steve Martin’s new musical. Here’s the Old Globe prod sizzle. I love, love, love porch music.

Hamilton (open): Duh. We’re all already obsessed with Hamilton, but I LOVE this recent ep of Pop Culture Happy Hour where they just spend 45 min gushing about it.

So much to seeeeeee. Thank the goodness for Rush and Standing room.

Keep doing what you love,

Ctina

bway theatre

 

 

Moleskines and Theatre

I often spend time gazing lovingly on my moleskine calendar. I highlight my auditions and appointments in pink and my work shifts in yellow. On the left side I have my schedule and on the right side I have all the of the reagonal theatre’s seasons of that week written out, plus random lists, quotes, etc. Basically, my planner is a mess of pink, yellow and pencil doodles, with lots of things boxed, circled, checked, and starred. It looks insane, but I think it is beautiful and I love laying it open and just staring at it. Scheduling out each day is veeery satisfying to me. I really commend everyone who uses their phone which I’m sure is a lot neater and cleaner. But I definitely prefer a big, bulky book that I have to cart around and open to see all the madness laid out in front of me. For the curious, I use this extra large moleskine. I get next year’s as soon as it comes out bc they get sold out like whoa.

I just said goodbye to the parents who were in town visiting me for a few days. It was so fun having them here. While they stayed with me, I went to three auditions, and they LOVED tagging along with me to see the goings-on. They’ve gone to plenty of auditions with me in Baltimore and D.C., but only one in NYC (a very busy ECC a few months ago). They were a super fun posse to have around amidst the audition madness. My mom was a sneaky paparazzi and took some pics of me doing some serious prep:

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And also when I was on line waiting to go in:

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^I’m laughing because I saw her sneaking the pic! lol.

The first night they were here, we went to see Beautiful: The Carol King Musical.

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So. GOOD!!!! Super feel good, really well put together, great design and I think mom and I were smiling the whooooole time. I could tell the performers were have the BEST TIME.

This week I’m planning on seeing Bedlam’s Sense and Sensibility. It’s supposed to be a really high energy, modern version of Jane Austen’s novel. I’m heading to D.C. next week to audish for the Folger Theatre’s production- stoked!

Keep on doing what you love.

Ctina

 

 

Rainy NYC Days

It was a very rainy day here in NYC, which of course makes everything just a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit harder, because all of a sudden precious hand-real-estate is being taken over by an umbrella, you have to frogger the shit out of some puddles and hydroplaning taxis, and your meticulously coiffed hair for your CATS ON BROADWAY AUDITION is melting. Because of this, it was very lucky that I only had one EPA today, the aforementioned CATS revival.

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Typical cargo on an audition/work day. Plus Umbrella.

Even with the rain, it was a pretty standard EPA/CAP21 work day. It started the night before, when I got home from work around 11p: I immediately doused some chicken breasts with coconut aminos and threw them in the oven, chopped up a bunch of carrots, tossed them with coconut oil and some free sample Penzies seasoning blend (Tsardust Memories, I believe- it ended up suuuper tasty), threw those in the oven as well, and  steamed a bag of frozen broccoli. I wanted to make sure I had food prepped for the next day. Knowing I have food in the fridge to just grab and go greatly lowers my stress levels.

After food was done and laundry folded, I slept like a rock until 7:30a, packed bfast and trekked downtown to Pearl Studios to wait in line and get the time I wanted for later that afternoon. The call was super chill, and I got my time no problem. After walking over to the Equity Building to sign up for a couple ECCs next week, I went home, chugged more coffee, and then exercised with my beloved Kettlebells. Coiffed the hair, beat the face, warmed up, made lunch, packed dinner, then headed back downtown to check in for my time. Again, the holding room was incredibly chill, and I was seen first in my time slot. Because it was not crowded at all, there was no sense of needing to rush. It was just a lovely audition experience and everyone was warm and friendly.

After that, I could take my time walking down 7th ave, enjoying the rain, and practice a bit at CAP before my work shift (a great perk of working at a rehearsal studio).
Sometimes when I see one of my actor friends who I haven’t seen in awhile, I ask how things are, and they respond, “just living the dream.”  However, it is very ironic and a bit, dare I say, cynical. I always respond, “That’s right. We ARE living the dream.” It’s true! This is the dream, because these kinds of days are part of the dream job. It’s all in service of that moment when you ARE in the show and working on stage. It’s all the dream!

Dropped in NYC

Countrywo/men!

I am freshly returned from Sarasota, Florida where I played Pauline in FST’s One Man Two Guvnors. It was a wonderful, fulfilling experience (more on that later, plus… Harry Potter World pilgrimage! ah!), but my head is so full right now with settling back into the city and back to getting after some auditions, picking up shifts at CAP21, and gazing lovingly on all those beautiful faces I haven’t seen in 2 and a halfish months.

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Actor’s Equity Building

Right when I got back to the city, I was given a big project for my first week: my first real deal agent appt for a Broadway show. Getting these types of appts was a specific goal of mine for the new year, so getting it was very fangirl-squeal inducing. This audish was what is called a “pre-screen” for future replacements for a pop/rock show currently running, and I was only asked to prep a song and a scene from the show. The week leading up to it involved me working and memorizing the sides, a session with my acting coach, and some late night youtube research. I went in the most prepared I could be and the audish went well! The best thing you can say is that you went into the room and did exactly what you wanted to do. The only thing you can control in this business is how prepared you are (wise words from my mentor, Mana Allen), so knowing and doing THAT makes auditions so much less about “not being good enough” and infinitely more a matter of “here I am, this is what I love, nice to meet you/see you again. See you soon”.

Something to also keep in mind with auditions is that you may hear the next day if you got a call back, and you may hear next YEAR. It’s important to remember that an audition is not a “no.” It’s a “not now.” What is important is being “seen” by the person behind the table, because you never know what they may be writing on your resume for later, the other things they are currently casting/working on, or the things that will come up from that audition in a few months’ time. The important thing is just to always be ready for the opportunity. To be consistent and professional, and to take every opportunity you can to express your talent in the room (read: go to all the auditions you can and practice all you can and take class all you can). One my vocal coaches, when asked about success in this industry, said, “You just have to be ready for when the opportunity comes.”

Here in New York, we are currently in what we call “Audition Season,” meaning that a bunch of regional theatres from all over the country are coming to NYC over the next few weeks and casting for their 2016-2017 seasons. So I am filling my mornings, pretty much Monday-Friday, now through March, traipsing in EPA/ECC land. Just so this doesn’t get all “inside baseball-y,” here’s what that means:

EPA (Equity Principle Audition)

Equity regional theatres and Broadway shows are required by Equity rules to have these open calls for Equity actors, so even if the show is already cast, they are still required to hold these auditions. These are where you go in the morning an hour before the call starts (earlier if you want to be towards the front of the line) and sign up for an appt time that day. It is really nice to have a guarenteed slot that you can plan your day around. You never really know who will be in the room and whether or not they are looking, but if you are right for the show, it’s always good to go. You just never know. Some people think if you have an agent who is submitting you for things, don’t waste your time going to these. But, people do get call backs and appts from these. AND, agent appts don’t go out until after the required EPA, so if casting sees you at the EPA, they may decide to give you the agent appt.

 

ECC (Equity Chorus Call)

This is specifically for the ensemble parts in musicals. The list starts a week before the call. Broken up into female singers, male singers, female dancers, male dancers. I always go to the singer call, and to the dance call if they invite me after singing. For this one, you sign up a week before. The list is called a half hour before the start time. If you are not there when they call your name, you are at the end of the line. Depending on who shows up, your number may change from 200 to 30. At these, everyone who has a number before they close the call will get seen. If it is crazy busy and they are forced to “type” (that is, decide who gets to audition based on your look/type), you at least get to walk into the room and be seen. You stay until your number, so it is more like an open call situation. What is beneficial with an ECC is someone from the music team is required to be behind the table, so no matter what, you are seen by a member of the creative team. (With an EPA, only someone from casting has to be there.

 

Appointments

These. are. the BEST. This is where casting calls you in from an agent submission or self-submission (or EPA/ECC). They give you sides (songs and scenes from the show) to audition with (EPAs and ECCs, you sing from your book-as in, your personal repertoire of songs). Appointments are great because they are so much more chill, you don’t have to get up crazy early in the morning, you have something specific to prepare, you know they are definitely looking and think you are already right for the part cause you were called in from a submission. I personally love preparing sides much more than singing from my book  because it’s fun to be working on new material and to have that mini-chance of actually performing the role you are in for.

Okay my friends, hope you all are living happy and staying warm. Love.
Xtina

Mondayzzz

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Well, Goodnight Moon has clooooosed this past Saturday……that is, we thought. Until we were told the day before that we will be reviving the show in April, because of all the of cancelled snow day performances. SO, we haven’t said Goodnight to the Moon yet. But, because it was suppoooosed to be the official closing, I received the most beautiful closing day gift from wardrobe (wardrobe, who handles all the quick changes and the laundry every day are the real heroes of the show). A TEACUP!!! To go with my Dish and my Spoon!

And of course, even though it wasn’t Official, official closing, we still had our fill of closing perf shenanigans backstage..

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Friday night was The Great Gatsby opening night. All the interns got gussied up to go for a night at the theatre….

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Needless to say, we had the BEST time. The show was great, the audience had a fantastic energy, and the after party was so fun. The theatre gave out free champagne and drink tickets to celebrate….yeah, we stayed until they kicked us out. Spent the After-after party with my ladies, Rivka and Lea, at home and let ourselves forget a bit about the looming understudy rehearsal, jumping back into R&J tour, and starting Taming of the Shrew all next week.

And now, today is Monday, which is our day off. Had a gym sesh in the morning with Brennan, went grocery shopping with Rivka and stocked up on tour snacks, and now it’s time for one final review before the u/s put in tomorrow. Godspeed!!

while at work

Sifting through the Internets during downtime at work, I came across an excerpt from Garson Kanin’s book, Tracy and Hepburn. She writes:

“All careers in the arts resemble life on roller coasters. First, the painstakingly slow and steady climb: next, reaching a peak; now a sickening plummet from grace. Up again, up, up and down! Again and again. Observe, however, the interesting laws of physics in action as the downward thrust gives flowing motion to the climb up to the next leg of the journey. Without the downs, there would be little self-generated energy for the ups.

There are some who are so shook up by the ride that they stop riding; others hang on grimly, without enjoyment; a number drop out or jump off… but a rare few.. enjoy it all the way, the heady ups and the screaming downs. These are the born roller coaster riders.”

Alright, Garson. Alright.

Xoxo

After Bedtime

You know those nights when you come home dead tired and hungry, so you stay up just to eat and, you know, watch 30 Rock and read Vulture, and then like, you’re done eating dinner, but you’re ready for just one more 30 Rock cause your on that Tina Fey high, and then your like, whoa it is TIME for sleep, but then somehow you’ve pushed past tired into, MAN, I don’t want to sleep, I just want it to be morning so I can have coffee and read Vulture updates. It’s actually a periodic cycle that a piece of me watches with horror while my other peices rejoice in the comedic revelry that instant Netflix gives me. Curse you, 30 Rock, butreallyiloveyouwithallmyheart.

This week has definitely been on the chiller side audition wise (minus the North shore EPA I tried to crash to no avail), which is good because I injured my knee while running last week and its still being extremely pesky even after I bought it new sneakers. The gull of that joint! The good thing about the cold front that seized our city is that now whenever I’m outside, my knee just sort of grows numb with the cold and I feel nothing but the freezing slap of death against my  exposed cheeks. Yay!

Anyway, these ramblings need to stop if I want my dream of coffee and Vulture to happen in the morn. But I’ll leave by leaving some of my winter missions on here so that WordPress holds me accountable for them:

– more videos of me singing will be released into the ether..
-more play going and movie going will occur…. … .
– and coffee with friends will be planned….. …

Goodnight!

The real season has begun

Peter Callles mis call ladies

 

 

The above are two representations of what auditioning is like for the non-equity actress. Opencall holding rooms filled with masses of ladies with curling irons, hairspray, liquid eyeliner, vocal lip trills and humming. This period of Jan-March is when regional theatres are casting for their spring/summer season. DURING this time their are many things out of your control, which is why the things you CAN control, i.e. how prepared you are and what time you get there, you cherish. Your best strategy is to get there early enough that you’re seen in the first hour, or at least, before lunch, which often means getting there between 6a and 7a, and which, for ME and the others who live in the bowels of Brooklyn, means leaving at 5a. AND for those of us who are ladies, and need time for things like hair, and those of us who are humans who need time to make coffee and cereal, it means getting up at 4a.

There’s definitely this sense of non-eq actors needing to pay their dues: living in my very affordable apartment far away from everything in a not so great neighborhood, getting up at the crack of dawn, that’s just the way it’s gotta be for a little while and it’s okay. I just keep reminding myself: this is the job. This is the work. And you know, being in these holding rooms, I really don’t mind it. I always find someone who I know or who I haven’t seen in a while and get to catch up. AND, there’s the manic feeling of possibility. It’s hard not to be affected by everyone’s drive. AND I quite enjoy looking at everyone’s outfits and how ladies are doing their makeup. You look for little inspirations.

I like taking pictures of the holding rooms, because it is pretty crazy what we do. Who else goes on 100s of job interviews a year, but instead of a handful of people sitting on couches, hundreds sprawl around wherever you find space. But I also like putting a stamp on it. I was here, I got up early, put on eyeliner, and I found my space. There are many things you can’t control, but how prepared you are, how early you get there, and really, your outlook on the whole thing, are hopefully tools enough.