Scott Giessler talks with Kingswood Theater students about the auditioning process. (Photo by Joshua Spaulding) (click for larger version)
September 05, 2018WOLFEBORO — The whole idea of auditioning for a musical can be a scary thought, even as an adult.
As a high school or junior high school student who's never done anything like that, it's probably downright terrifying. The idea of getting up on an empty stage in front of a group of adults and/or your peers may even keep people from signing up for auditions.
Scott Giessler, the director of the award-winning Kingswood Theater program, thought it would be a good idea to offer up tips and advice to some of his young actors and actresses in advance of auditions for the school's musical, "The Wizard of Oz."
So, on Saturday morning, Sept. 1, a few days before school even began, a group of Kingswood students filed into the Kingswood Arts Center with the idea of learning a bit more about just how to improve their auditions.
"This is something new," Giessler said. "We like to try something different every year."
He thought about the idea when he thought back on the large amount of talent he graduated from the program last year. Knowing that the program would need an influx of new talent in order to continue the success Kingswood has had, he hatched the idea that came to fruition on Saturday morning.
"We have a lot of ninth graders, a lot of middle schoolers," he said. "We kind of hit the reset button."
Giessler invited vocal coach Jenni Goodman, who starred as Marian opposite Giessler's Harold Hill in last fall's Village Players production of "The Music Man," to work with the kids on their vocal auditions, while he and assistant director Kimmi Adjutant, a graduate of the Kingswood program, worked with the kids on their monologues and sides.
"Jenni will show you how to open up your pipes," Giessler said to the students. "That's going to be immensely valuable.
"The whole purpose is to better prepare for your audition in September," the Kingswood director continued. "This is not an audition. We're going to see things today, hear things today and give you suggestions for improvement."
Goodman echoed Giessler's statements to the kids.
"This is an amazing opportunity to come and prepare for auditions," Goodman said. "And you can make improvements between now and auditions."
Goodman then went on to lead the students through warm-ups, talking about the importance of posture, confidence and relaxation when it comes to auditions. And she told the kids it was important to sing. A lot.
"The more you sing, the better you get," Goodman said.
And though the two audition songs presented are for the parts of Dorothy and the scarecrow, she pointed out that there's no rule that says you have to sing it like Dorothy or the scarecrow.
"Take a song and show your teachers how creative you are," she said. "Do 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' from the Wicked Witch's point of view.
"If there's a part you want, you need to show him," she said. "You need to prepare, this is a great opportunity to prepare."
The students then broke into groups, with four students at a time going to the music room with Goodman to work on audition songs while the rest worked on monologues and sides in the auditorium and lobby.
As one by one, students made their way to the stage, Giessler listened and offered advice.
"Think of it less as a speech and more as a scene," he said.
And as one student got on stage with a monologue and had a mind blank midway through, Giessler took the chance to use it as a teaching moment.
"Nerves are a thing," he said, noting he sees it all the time. "They happen, now what do you do when it happens?"
He turned that question toward the other students sitting in the audiences and they offered up their advice, further advancing the thought that theater is indeed a family. After all, what makes one person better, makes the entire group better.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.