Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Audition Preparation Tip: Know Your Type

Photo: Emily in Our Town. Bickford Theater, Morristown, NJ. 1999

As an actor, it is important to know your "type". This is not necessarily how you see yourself, but how the casting team sees you. It is important to tap into what you are being called back for and being cast as. Sure, I would love to see myself as a powerhouse like Patti Lupone, but realistically I do not have her vocal type nor am I her casting type. We have to understand our limitations and our strengths. Embrace what, and where we are, and recognize that as we age casting options change.

When I was young I was the ingenue. The sweet, girl next door, the innocent. Now in my 40's I am the mother, the vulnerable woman and sometimes directors see me in character roles: the neurotic, the dim-witted, or the crazy hag. It actually has been fun getting older and taking on more character roles. Even in my 20's there were directors that saw me differently and took a chance. That is always exciting, but most of the time we will have to stick to the same thing over and over. And that can be a fun challenge as well, "How will I make this mom different than the last mom?"

So there is character type: the hero, the villain, the heart clown, the leading lady or man, the hooker with the heart of gold, the femme fatale, the quirky best friend, etc. And then there is vocal type for those that sing: Belt, mix, legit, hip hop, rock, country, pop, etc. Be clear on what you are able to sing well. It may be just one style or a few. Knowing your vocal type will not only direct you to the roles you try out for but, what songs you will sing for an audition. Most of us have that audition book with all of our songs (usually around 6 or 7) that are different styles/genres that we know inside and out. They sit well in our voice and show off our strengths. It is always wise to have the help of a vocal coach to guide you in this selection process. They are an outside source that have the expertise in knowing the repertoire that fits your instrument.

It can be frustrating to be, as they say, "type cast" but that is the reality of this business. Of course, we have that initial mentality that we are actors! We can play any part! And it is wonderful to have that confidence, but one has to realize what makes them unique and what they will most likely be cast as.

As a side note, I never discourage anyone from trying to break out of a mold or learning a new skill. Keep working. Always work. That may pay off in the future if you desire to play certain types of roles that you wouldn't have gotten early in your career. Enjoy the journey of finding your facets and take risks. One never fails when they step out of their box to take a chance. It takes courage but, may mean a successful turn in your career.