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Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Places, Please!

By • Jun 27th, 2006 • Category: The Time of Your Life

Laura and I have been working on ShowBizRadio nearly ten months now. We’ve seen a bunch of great shows and a few clinkers, learned a lot about theatre, met a bunch of great people, and had a great time. We are looking forward to the future. We’ve stayed active in our church’s drama ministry. We directed a few shows, and took part in a few brief sketches to help illustrate the sermon topic. Regarding ShowBizRadio.net, we have received a few complaints/concerns from people that we don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to theatre. To a point, that’s valid, after all, neither of us have studied theatre.

So we have both been looking for a way to get involved in a local community theatre production, so we could learn more about what is really involved in getting a production onstage. A few weeks ago I was on vacation here at home and I saw an audition notice for the Providence Players’s Fall show, The Time of Your Life, by William Saroyan. I looked over the background information, and thought it could be a good match. I emailed the director, Chip Gertzog, and introduced myself to him. He said I should go ahead and audition. I went that afternoon to the library and Borders, but couldn’t find the script to read through before the audition. I did check out a book of Saroyan’s short stories. They are really good stories, although I do wish I could learn more about some of the characters, the details in the stories just make me want to read more.

So on the evening of June 15th, I found myself on the stage at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church, reading lines from the play with many of the people I’ve seen perform before. I had expressed interest in several parts, and read for many of them. I really enjoyed watching the actors throw themselves into the parts. Chip was looking for how different actors looked on stage. Some of the roles will be paired together, so they need to look the same age; or maybe they need to look like opposites. And since no one knew the script already, it was ok that I hadn’t read it yet. I do wish I had gone to the first audition, that would have been more exposure to the script and the other players.

Near the end of the audition, Chip started double-checking his master list and releasing actors who he had finished with. I had read for all the roles I had expressed interest in, but he asked me to stay and read for the role of Tom. That surprised me, as Tom was a larger role than I had expressed interest in. But he wanted to see me, so of course I stayed and read more lines.

We had one more audition session on the following Tuesday evening. Chip was focusing on the male roles. I read for two parts, Krupp and Tom. There were a couple new people who did really well. And the other “regulars” continued to do great. I felt like an imposter at times, but I was enjoying myself. I definitely felt more comfortable on the stage, and with the script, since I read it that weekend. At the end of the audition, Chip told us he would make final decisions by the weekend. He was going to talk it over with some of the other people involved with Providence Players. That makes perfect sense to me, since he only had two eyes, and there was a lot to keep an eye on. He also videotaped the auditions; I guess he wanted to watch the dailies back at home.

I was pretty up front with Chip that I would be happy to help out backstage, or on-stage. The role of Tom would be a big step up for me, and Chip understood that there could be an element of risk in casting me in that role. I kept flip-flopping in my mind between nervousness, and excitement. It’s one thing to be a Monday morning quarterback and tell the world what the team did wrong. It’s quite another thing to offer to suit up and take your hits with the team. Well, I offered to suit up, now it’s up to the coach to decide if he wants to use me or not.

Over the weekend I received an email from Chip. The moment of truth. I get the opportunity to play the role of Tom. Woohoo! How exciting! The cast will be doing a read through of the script in the next few weeks. And I get to spend the rest of the summer learning my lines. I am planning on writing about my experiences, feel free to offer me advice, I’ll be learning a lot over the next four months. The tentative plan is to start rehearsals in late August or early September. The curtain rises Friday October 13th at 7:30 at the James Lee Center in Falls Church, Virginia. (View the complete schedule.) I hope you are able to come and enjoy what I hope will be a great show. And yes, this is also your opportunity to give a critic a taste of his own medicine.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

5 Responses »

  1. Break a leg! 🙂

  2. Congratulations! I hope you have a wonderful time and enjoy getting to learn the whole process.

  3. #1. Auditions are fun. It is very interesting to see how different actors approach a role and to the see the casting decisions the director makes. #2. Don’t be too discouraged about people telling you you don’t know what you are in regard to your reviews of the shows you see. Everyone has an opinion and yours are as valid as a reviewer who writes for a prestigious newspaper. You are much braver because you provide a method for public feedback. Your participation in this production will be a learning opportunity. The participation of even a seasoned performer in a production should be a chance to learn new things and to take on new challenges. Typically the audience for local theatre is not composed largely of renowned theatre experts. Most of the audience members are people very much like Mike and Laura and their post performance wrap-ups in the car on the way home are much like the observations you generously share here. You are eager to gain new insights from theatre. In a similar manner, the people who put on the shows should use this forum as an opportunity to learn from you. If you see a show and you just don’t get it, it is a great disservice to themselves for the cast and crew to attack your opinion. They should accept you honest opinions and use the experience to learn how to make their productions comprehendible to a typical audience member. If your reviews were all just, “We really like it they did a good job”, they would be rather pointless.

    Kevin

  4. Have a great time and just remember they call it a play for a reason. Have fun with it and “play”. But just one word of advice. Learn yourt lines asap. It is impossible to act with the acript in you hand.

  5. […] admit, that my appearance in Providence Players’ The Time of Your Life in October 2006 was initially to audition just to see what the audition process was like. I think our getting experience on both sides of the stage has improved our coverage of local […]