UB’s fall musical leads share their audition experiences
Actors prepare for 'Guys and Dolls'
While audiences won’t see the finished product until later this fall, performers in UB’s upcoming musical have been hard at work since the beginning of May.
Even though the actors are students, they receive the same treatment as professionals, and are expected to work just as hard.
From Nov. 15-24, UB’s Department of Theatre and Dance will present the Tony Award-winning musical “Guys and Dolls” in the Drama Theatre at the Center for the Arts. “Guys and Dolls” first premiered on Broadway in 1950 and has since been continuously revived. The musical follows two “guys” –– Nathan Detroit and Sky Masterson –– and their “dolls” –– Sarah Brown and Miss Adelaide –– as Nathan tries to win money from a bet with Sky in order to run an illegal gambling game in a safe space away from cops.
Rory Tamimie, a senior music theatre major, will play the role of Sky Masterson. As soon as Tamimie heard the department was planning “Guys and Dolls,” he immediately began researching the show and its characters. While he was familiar with the story and some of the songs, he wanted to better understand the details to prepare for auditions.
Tamimie said auditions at UB are “a simple process and actually rather fun.” For the first audition, actors perform part of a song that matches the style of the show as well as a short monologue. Once they perform the two pieces, the audition process is over for the actor.
“I’ve never been a fan of auditions, but if you treat it as an opportunity to perform, it makes it so much easier,” Tamimie said.
Michael Wells, a junior music theatre major, will play Nathan in the upcoming production. Wells said auditions at UB are similar to auditions in the professional world.
For his audition, Wells chose to perform a comedic monologue and a song written in the same era as “Guys and Dolls.”The song was “I Could Write A Book” from the musical “Pal Joey,” and the monologue was from the show “Rumors”.
“I love being able to put my creativity into a character and bring it to life on stage,” Wells said. “Theater is the one thing that I do where no matter how many times I do it, I could never get sick of it.”
Cassandra Elkin, a sophomore music theatre major, will play the role of General Matilda B. Cartwright. Elkin performed a monologue from “42nd Street”’s character Dorothy Brock and sang “It’s a Perfect Relationship” from the musical “Bells Are Ringing”for her audition.
“After solidifying my audition song choice, I would go to a practice room almost every day to work on my song and monologue,” Elkin said. “I would spend almost an hour each time I went.”
While Wells and Elkin picked songs and monologues that were around the same era and theme as “Guys and Dolls,” Tamimie chose pieces from the show itself for auditions.
And Tamimie knew he wanted the role of Sky before auditions and researched and prepared with this in mind.
“I made sure to know every detail about [Sky’s] character,” Tamimie said. “I watched as many productions of the show that I could find so I could see different portrayals of Sky and find the best way I could portray the character myself.”
Along with initial auditions, actors often attend callbacks. Unlike the typically quick first round, callbacks last for hours and may keep actors until midnight.
“The director wants to make sure he has the perfect cast, and callbacks are a very essential part of the process to figure that out,” Tamimie said.
Once music director Nathan R. Matthews decided and released the cast list, Tamimie was ecstatic to see he had secured the role he trained so hard for.
“I was beyond thrilled,” Tamimie said. “Classic shows are my favorite shows to perform and I believe [they] best fit my voice.”
Guest director Keith Andrews will both direct and choreograph the production and Matthews, UB’s director of music theatre, will be the production’s music director.
Andrews previously directed and choreographed UB’s 2015 production of “Legally Blonde.” His return as a guest director is just another reason Tamimie is excited about the production.
“I have many friends who have told me [Andrews] is great to work with,” Tamimie said. “I’m also excited that we are finally doing a classic show and I get to do it with all my fellow cast mates who are some of my closest friends. Being in a show is always an incredible bonding experience for the entire cast and we are going to have so much fun with this one.”
Music rehearsals for the show began last week and the first staging rehearsal will be Monday, Oct. 7.
Anastasia Wilds is an assistant arts editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org on twitter @AnastasiaWilds