‘Aida’ cast: auditions are worth the risk

News, Rotator, Theater — By on November 11, 2013 10:11 pm

By Hannah Wieditz

Judgment. It’s what many humans are afraid of, yet it is routine for the Mount Vernon High School students who audition for plays and musicals every year. For all theater productions, students must prove their acting abilities in front of the judges to win the part they desire. And musicals require a combination of both portraying the part and carrying a tune. How do students prepare for an audition that they don’t get a chance to do over?

The cast of "Aida." Photo by Gabby Kolker.

The cast of “Aida.” Photo by Gabby Kolker.

This year’s cast in the fall musical faced that dilemma at the beginning of the school year when auditions were held. They were required to read a section from the play to the directors Tom Stephens and Thad Wilkins. The section was taken from the musical, “Aida”, set in Ancient Egypt, evolving around the love affair between an enslaved Nubian princess, Aida, and an Egyptian soldier, Radames. Their forbidden love forces them to choose death or permanent separation. Within the auditions, students do not only have to demonstrate their acting abilities with the given lines, but they must also sing a song from the musical.

Mr. Stephens said students should prepare for the auditions accordingly. “They definitely should listen to the music ahead of time so they’re familiar with the show and who the characters are. If possible, they could grab a script from me or look it up online and get an overview of the story so they’re familiar with what the story is. Other than that, I think watching theater is a good preparation for knowing how people move and behave and look on stage, so they can try to bring something original to that audition.”

Sophomore Hannah Clark, the character of Aida, and Trevor Baty, who plays Radames, discover that despite the war between their homelands, that they share true love. Musical performances were Nov. 1, 2, 7, and 9 at the Mount Vernon District auditorium. This photo of the two leading actors was taken by Gabby Kolker at dress rehearsal, Oct. 29.

Sophomore Hannah Clark, the character of Aida, and Trevor Baty, who plays Radames,
discover that despite the war between their homelands, that they share true
love. Musical performances were Nov. 1, 2, 7, and 9 at the Mount Vernon District
auditorium. Photo by Gabby Kolker at
dress rehearsal, Oct. 29.

High expectations from directors as well as competitive peers do not only make auditioners nervous, but also force them to come prepared. Many arrive with a firm idea of what role they want to play, taking the auditions very seriously. Some have rituals to ensure their best performance.

“Before auditions, I just relax,” said senior Cory Brannaman, who played the slave Mareb. “That’s what I do before the performance too. I always bring my headphones and listen to some tunes before the musical. I listen to a lot of OneRepublic, Matt Nathanson, Imagine Dragons, and Eric Hutchinson. Music gets me into an isolated and calm mind-set,”  Cory said.

Other students take a less intense approach. Senior Katy McCollum said, “I do not prepare to audition. I just go. I am too sassy for nerves.”

Despite these contrasting strategies, the audition process is always competitive among students, who are all fighting for their desired role. Junior Trevor Baty, who plays one of the lead roles as the Egyptian soldier, Radames, came to the auditions prepared to do his best. “I wanted the role of Radames so badly,” said Trevor, “In the future, I’m interested in acting as profession. I wanted the responsibility and, in a way, the freedom of a larger role.”

Hannah Clark, sophomore, was pleasantly surprised when she got the other lead role, Aida, the Nubian Slave. “I definitely didn’t expect to get [the lead role]. I’m not joking! I just about dropped my phone when I found out!” Hannah said trying out isn’t as hard as people think. “Everyone’s so nice and it’s just plain out fun. Of course, everyone is fighting for the same role, but its like a family fighting over a board game, so there’s never any feelings hurt,” said Hannah.

Cast members say that the audition process is not as scary as it may seem, and the end result of musicals makes the whole process worth it.

“People should do the musicals because it’s a great time,” said Trevor. “You get to hang out with awesome people and come together to make something that is so fun to perform.”

Cory feels the same way. “Musicals take so much work, but they sure pay off. I really enjoy showing the audience what I and the rest of the cast and crew has done.”

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