Step One: Admit You Have A Problem
Greetings! I am Michael, Office Manager at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. If you are a theatre nerd like me, you probably have the new musical, “Hamilton”, on repeat in your car. I was fortunate enough to see the show on Broadway a few months ago and it completely moved me. I am still recovering to this day. Baby steps.
A few weeks ago it had been announced that the casting team behind “Hamilton” would be hosting an open call in Los Angeles. I was not going to throw away my shot! Yes, that show reference just happened. Sorry, not sorry.
Saturday, April 16th. The day was finally here! I had my sheet music, headshot and resume ready to go! I met up with my friend Nina and we carpooled to save ourselves the crazy parking hassle. We arrived at the Hollywood United Methodist Church, right in the heart of Hollywood, at 8:30am (Sign In began at 10 a.m.), thinking we were a little “early”. Little did I know, auditioners had arrived as early as 6:30 and I was given #250. The first 2 hours were spent waiting outside in line. Note to self: bring an umbrella to the next open call. From there we were brought into the church’s gym where we signed in and received an audition form. By the time I had reached the front of the line, the chairs/space in the gym had already filled up. I saw an open door leading outside and I decided to take a walk. I found a beautiful rose garden and most importantly: SHADE! I decided to make that my home for the remainder of the audition day.
The halls were alive with the sound of music! See? Theatre nerd, I warned you. Numerous auditioners were spread out throughout the area doing vocal warm-ups or rehearsing their audition pieces “one last time”. Another HAM reference…I’m a monster that cannot be stopped! Due to the large turnout, we were instructed to do away with our sheet music and go a Capella and the 16-32 bar requirement for our audition song was lowered to 8 bars. I decided to change my song completely and I went with “A House Is Not A Home” by Luther Vandross because I felt I could show/give more in 8 bars with that song, rather than my first song choice. By 12 p.m., they had 600 auditioners and the line had to be cut off. After about an hour, the casting team started lining up the first 50 people and they were put in numerical order and it went on as the day went by. In the waiting process I met many people from various backgrounds and it was great to see this wonderful show bring people together. I met a girl in line from Upstate New York who had just moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. She heard about the auditions and immediately cleared her schedule for the weekend. Another person I met was from New York as well, here on vacation. His friend is in the Ensemble of the Broadway cast and filled him in on the audition notice and encouraged him to audition.
The audition team had the process down to a science and I was truly impressed. Instead of a Broadway audition it felt like an audition for “The Voice” or “American Idol” where you are lined up and then sent to different tables of casting directors. It was about 2:30 p.m. when my group of numbers got called. THIS IS IT! We were lined up, walked to our audition space and then waited outside the room, where we were instructed to go in one by one. I walked in to the cold, quiet audition room also known as The Grant Hall. I walked in to see a casting director, sitting at a table by himself. I walked in, was asked to introduce myself and tell him what I was singing. I got about 30 seconds to sing my song and that was that. If they were considering you for a callback, you were asked to step into another room to sing another song selection or a musical theatre piece and from there they would decide whether or not to call you back the next day.
In the end, I left without a callback but gained a wonderful experience. I got to audition for THE hottest show in the world and be in a room filled with bright, future stars of tomorrow. Everyone I met was so excited to be there and it was great to see a show like this EXCITE so many people.
As an actor, you will hear a lot of no’s, but it’s up to YOU to pick yourself up and start again.
The next chapter begins…now.