Tag Archives: acting

Academy of the Performing Arts: An Interview With Drew

Academy of the Performing Arts: An Interview With Drew

Because so many of our students audition for local performing arts programs, we decided to put together a collection of interviews with students who’ve successfully auditioned and been accepted to various programs. We’ll start with the ultra-talented Drew, who was just accepted into Huntington Beach’s Academy of the Performing Arts (APA) as a musical theatre major for next year. Drew shares her experience about her prep work for the audition and about the audition itself and even kindly offers her email address so that perspective students can get in contact with her and ask questions.

MM: Can you outline to me what you did to help prepare for your audition? Did you feel like preparation was an important part of your success?

DD: Preparation is the key to success. Without preparing myself and rehearsing over and over again, I wouldn’t have felt confident going into the audition room. I prepared by choosing my audition songs about 3 months in advance and just practiced as much as I could. It’s quite simple.

MM: Can you describe the audition process itself? Was there anything unexpected, or did it go like you thought that it would?

DD: So there was a dance, acting, and singing audition. During the dance audition we learned a short dance routine and auditioned in groups of four. In acting and singing there were about 4 or 5 people behind the table and I auditioned with no other students in the room. During my singing audition I only sang one of my audition songs and the pianist played some notes on the piano for me to match pitch with. I was at the school for about 3 hours since there were so many people auditioning but the actual auditions only lasted about 5 minutes each. Everything went smoothly and I wasn’t surprised that I only had to sing one of the two songs I prepared.

MM: Did you find preparing for the audition, or the audition itself, to be a bigger challenge?

DD: Honestly, preparing for auditions is always easy for me. I have an extensive knowledge of musical theatre audition songs and a musical theatre repertoire book that I can use for auditions. If you don’t know what a repertoire book is, it’s a binder filled with audition songs that are in your range and are a wide variety of different types of songs. Always have classic and contemporary songs, uptempos and ballads, and comedic and dramatic. I have a few pop songs in my rep book as well because you never know when the director might call for a pop song to be sung at auditions! I also fill my rep book with an array of different monologues. And I was nervous for the audition itself but it was over in about 10 minutes and went better than I expected!

MM: Do you have any thing that you do to help you calm down before the audition, or are you one of the lucky few who don’t get nervous?

DD: I’m one of those auditioners who seems like they’re calm and confident but on the inside I’m pretty nervous. I always try to calm myself by:

  1. Taking deep breaths
  2. Drinking lots of water because being hydrated can really calm you somehow
  3. Giving yourself pep talks! You can do it!

MM: How did it feel when you found out that you got accepted?

DD: Amazing! I felt that my audition material was great and my resume and essay were written well. I couldn’t stop smiling for a week.

MM: What are you most looking forward to in attending APA?

DD: Overall just getting to be around all my friends. I have been online schooled for the past 2 years so I sadly haven’t gotten to see many of them.

MM: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

DD: If anyone is auditioning for APA like I did and needs help finding audition songs, monologues, or just needs some advice feel free to email me at drewnicoleeee@gmail.com. I always love getting to help people find the perfect audition material for them!

How to Make a Monologue Sound Natural

How to Make a Monologue Sound Natural

The following was written by one of our top voice and monologue coaches, Anne.

The hardest thing for a young actor is making the monologue not sound memorized. It is, of course, memorized. That is a requirement for any actor. But the trick is to make it seem not memorized. And that is where the difficulty comes in. How do you make something that is memorized seem to not be memorized? Magic? Possibly. But a more mundane, attainable option is to make sure you are clear about where the beats go.

Beats Aren’t Just Part of Music

Wait! Beats are part of music. Monologues don’t have music. If they did, they would be songs. That is true. But it is also true that all human language has beats. If someone speaks with a lot of long pauses, we read hesitation. If they speak quickly, with words pouring out of their mouth, we read excitement. We are able to read this hesitation or excitement in the speed and timing of human language, just like we do with a song. But since plays and, therefore, monologues have no composer to write the rhythm in for us, it is our job as actors to figure out how to put them in.

Listen to People in Real Life

Pay close attention the next time someone is talking to you. Chances are that they will stop a little bit. They might need time to think of the next thing to say, or might need time to react to what has just been said to them. There might be a moment when they are waiting for someone else to react. Those pauses, when we are referring to monologue preparation, are beats. It is a point in the monologue where you intentionally stop talking. Your character might be taking time to think of something, they might need to remember an event before they can say it. A memory might have knocked them off their feet for a minute, or they are waiting to see if the other character (who may or may not be there) is going to say something. But those pauses are necessary so that we understand what is happening, and understand why the character is reacting the way that they are. We need to read the character the way we read the people that meet every day.

What Are Beats So Important

Why else are the beats so important? Because they are what help us not sound like we are simply reciting something memorized. They are what allow us to get that organic flow of words that is the bridge between recitation and acting. It is a time to silently develop the character, to allow them to be a little bit more real and human to the audience. Another thing that makes the beats important is that they help us slow down. We are filled with adrenaline when we audition and perform, and that makes us speed up, which can cause us to lose some of the emotional impact. Paying attention to the spacing allows us to not only create an organic, emotive monologue, but also to maintain it when it truly matters.

How to Put Beats In

If you are unsure how to put beats in, start simple. Read through your monologue. Put in two beats (count one, two in your head if that helps) after each comma, and one beat (count one) after each comma. That alone will begin to slow down the monologue and make it feel less rushed. Practice like that for a while; get a feeling for what it feels like to go slowly. Then begin to take apart the monologue a little bit, what I like to think of as “going over it with a fine-tooth comb.” We are looking for the details to make the big picture bigger. Does your character have to think of a reason why something is, or have to come up with a list off the top of their head? If they do, you’ll want to put in some more spacing. If someone asked you to list ten birds, it might take you some time to think of them, even if you know them all. Unless, of course, your character has been practicing a list of ten birds, and they show off that skill in the monologue. Then the beats will be different. Understanding your character, and why they are saying what they are saying, will help you figure out timing for the monologue. Spend some time with who you think the character might be, and you might just find that the beats fall naturally.

Student Spotlight: Megan B.

This month we had the pleasure of speaking to actress and singer Megan B. Megan is our Student Spotlight because she inspires us with her positive attitude and great work ethic. Despite previously lacking confidence in her voice, she’s made enough strides to land her first solo at South County Performing Arts! As an actress, Megan has learned the power of acting a song the same way she would a scene or monologue. We can’t wait to see how her career progresses.

MM: How did you get started with singing? How old were you, and what made you start wanting to be a singer? I hear you’re an actor, too – did that come first, or second?

MB: When I was 10 yrs old I started doing Musical Theater at our local Toy Store called Toy Town. I noticed as I started auditioning for parts that many of the kids had strong singing voices, so it became apparent that I needed to work on my singing. My mom found Molly’s Music and I started working with Anne LaBella. Now I not only sing better, but I also know what “Real” singing is.

MM: What are your goals/dreams with singing and acting?

MB: My goal is to have an acting career in TV/film. Singing is one tool that will help me to progress in my desired profession.

MM: Do you share your musical skills with family, friends, or your community? How?

MB: Yes. South County Performing Arts (my musical theater group) performs 2 shows per year and does several summer camps. Every show my friends and family come to see me sing. Recently, I got my first ever solo and performed “Tele” from Matilda.

MM: Do you have any practice tips that have helped you over the years?

MB: I would say that you definitely need to listen to your teachers and practice every day. It’s always worth it! Only hard work and practice leads to true success. Innate talent will only take you so far.

MM: Who are a few bands/artists/musicals that have inspired you, and why?

MB: Susan Egan, Belle on Broadway for 10 yrs, made me starstruck when I met her this past summer at a camp I did with her. She is my biggest inspiration because I noticed how hard she worked to get where she was. I valued that so much.

MM: Can you share about a technique, skill, or song you struggled with, and how you are overcoming or have overcome it? Story time!

MB: I’m still overcoming this, but whenever I had an audition where I had to sing, I froze and forgot all the words! It happened at my audition for Aladdin. I didn’t believe I had the best singing voice and as I did not feel this was my strength it made me so nervous. My teachers have taught me to take a different approach and look at singing a song as no different than acting out a story. Thus now when I audition I rely on the techniques my teachers have taught me and I simply focus on acting, which is what I really love to do. It’s helped me a bunch and was what got me my recent singing solo of Tele.

MM: What advice would you give to other students just starting out?

MB: New students need to set goals and practice to achieve those goals. They should be taking care of their voices by warming up before they sing and doing daily vocal exercises. I’ve learned that not only do singers do this but actors/actresses as well.