Q&A with AVENUE Q’s Kerri Brackin

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Kerri Brackin is currently in the NYC production of AVENUE Q at New World Stages playing Girl Bear/Mrs. T. The actress chats with The Broadway Warm-Up about her journey as a performer, daily rituals/habits and her warmup routine.


When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

I started singing and dancing at the youngest age possible. I was around 2. I LOVED it!!!! I was into competition dance and pageants and singing at anything and everything. I started acting at about age 10 when I auditioned for and was cast in a production of ANNIE. I totally fell in love with musical theatre and knew I wanted to pursue a career in this industry. Believe it or not, I actually stopped performing at age 14 and didn’t pick it up again until I packed my bags and moved to NYC after college. The rest is history.

What’s been your best audition experience? Your worst?

My best audition experience may have been the series of callbacks for the tour of AVENUE Q. Worst? Hmmmmmm…maybe one where I had an awesome crack, a crack that just kept cracking, on a super long-held belt note at the end of a song. Classic!

Why do you do what you do?

I love being part of an experience for the audience that hopefully sends them away with a smile and some laughs and an enjoyed time for a few hours. Life can be hard…theatre should be fun!! I also love booking a job. It’s the great feeling and a feeling of accomplishment. And performers are always so much fun to work with!!! The sweetest people.

What are some daily rituals and non-negotiable habits that you include in your routine?

The Broadway Warm-Up is becoming the ritual. A good night’s sleep is a non-negotiable. A substantial meal a few hours before a show is non-negotiable.

How do you prepare for your show?

Typically my preparation for a show is what happens at half-hour…getting dressed, makeup, hair/wigs. Thanks to The Broadway Warm-up, honestly, I am really beginning to see the importance of and the difference that the physical and vocal prep makes. The Broadway Warm-Up is new to me and is making a huge difference for me. My body feels more aligned for sure. Physically, I’m more relaxed and more stretched. It has made a HUGE difference in how my voice feels and how I think it sounds onstage. It’s such a complete warm-up and my whole voice feels great after. Another thing that is extremely helpful for me….because of the vocal warm-up, I can see day-to-day where my voice is, where my allergies might be sitting, etc. and so I’m able to deal with that better in a show and better know how to negotiate any potential quirks for any particular day and how to sing around/work around any issues. A big help!!!!

What do you know now that you wish you knew 20 years ago? What advice might you give?

I wish I had known the sacrifice of being so far away from my family to perform at this level. I’m an Oklahoma girl and all of my jobs have been either touring or here in NYC. I don’t see my family enough. I wish I had known that nerves would become the biggest inhibitor and would, at times, take away some of the fun and joy….I say that because I wish I had learned how to deal with them and conquer them years ago. Also though, the incredible people I’ve met and made lifelong friends with, the excitement of booking a job, the love and appreciation for a long-term gig, and what a true dream it is to live and work in a steady show here in the Big Apple…There are no words for how much I love it and how grateful I am for this time.

avenue q.jpgLike this post? Check out more of our The Broadway Warm-Up interviews! 
#BeWarm

Hi, I’m Johnny!

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a Completely synchroninzed Vocal and dance warm-up

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I’m Johnny Shea and I am the newly appointed Blogger-In-Chief and Head of Brand Ambassador Development for The Broadway Warm-Up.

I’m going to be posting some awesome content on this blog over the coming weeks, so I thought I’d take a moment to say hi!

I have just moved to New York to pursue a career in acting. Just over a month ago, I graduated from Ithaca College with my BFA in Musical Theatre. The link to Ithaca is actually how I met Kim Stern, Owner/Creator of The Broadway Warm-Up. Back in March, all of IC’s graduating Theatre Arts majors traveled down to NYC to for a week-long series of panels and workshops with industry professionals. Kim was joined by fellow IC alums Mark Price and Caesar Samayoa in their panel called Empowered Artistry. I remember feeling so inspired after this panel. I left with a feeling of confirmation that my dreams were legitimate and possible in this city.

I’ll be honest – there are times when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. For all my life to this point, I’ve had the structure and schedule of school to return to and live by. Now that I’ve graduated, the blank canvas before me is both exciting and terrifying. I’m choosing to be excited and inspired by the unknown ahead. I’d love for you to join me as I venture into the unknown and pursue my dreams of acting professionally.

This city, this lifestyle and this business are new to me, so my plan is to be a sponge. I will soak up anything and everything that pertains to life as an artist in New York. I thought it’d be fun to share what I discover as I go. SO, I’ll be conducting interviews with industry professionals to break down their daily habits & routines, and to deconstruct what makes them the best at what they do. In these interviews, I’ll talk to people with all different backgrounds and ties to the entertainment industry. I’ll speak with anyone from Broadway actors, composers, directors to ENTs, therapists, personal trainers…you  name it. I am interested in speaking to anyone with relevant info on this awesome industry. My mission is to inspire you to do what you love by interviewing people who have done just that.

Why do we warm-up? I know I warm-up so that I may perform at my best and stay healthy. I want my voice, body and mind to be in optimal condition before I go out onstage. The Broadway Warm-Up is designed to help performers reach optimal states before audition or performance. These interviews and blog posts are designed to dissect top performers so that all of us may strive to reach and realize our potential. My hope is that these interviews will provide tangible, actionable information that will inspire you.

The interviews will vary in form: video, audio & written. Be sure to follow the blog and check back soon for our first!

Be Warm,

Johnny

www.broadwaywarmup.com

And…We’re Back!

BWALPHAHey gang! It’s been while…but we’re back! Going to be starting to bring you some more blog content focused on performing musical theatre, audition technique, singing, dancing,  auditions, warming up and all around inspiration.  For starters, check out this exciting new blog series from The Anonymous Actor!  The Anonymous Actor is a real, live, young performer who is out there trying to make it happen in this great city of New York.  He/She will be giving weekly accounts of their victories and disappointments , discoveries and day to day dealings as they work towards booking the next job, getting the attention of an agent, finding the perfect NYC apartment and figuring out how to balance it all with a smile at the end of the day.  The Anonymous Actor could be someone who reminds you of yourself when you were starting out, or someone you hope to be in a few years, it could also be the person your sitting next to in your audition… RIGHT NOW. Enjoy!

The Anonymous Actor #01

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Hey New York artists: singers, musicians, actors, dancers, and all around cool people! Anonymous Actor here, bringing you the first ever titillating news on auditions, New York living, shows, and tips and tidbits about being an artist in this crazy city!

Unknown-1This week was full of incredible auditions including three days of singing EPAs for a brand new Broadway musical with casting by Telsey + Company. The CD was incredibly kind in the room, tapping his feet along to my 16 bar rock number and the accompanist was flawless! Sometimes you have incredibly fun and expectation-defying auditions (which this was for me) and sometimes you have crash and burn situations (which I have certainly experienced). One thing that I have learned from both situations is that a warm-up before a singing audition boosts my confidence ten-fold! It could be going to the gym, or walking and humming, or yoga, or a full classical 20 minute warm-up, but the one that truly stands out for me is The Broadway Warm-Up developed by Kim Stern and Deidre Goodwin!11011221_901133246616502_8468730541207047620_n  It is a fully immersive and completely synchronized vocal and dance warm-up. If you are already salivating at the prospects, then you will want to stay tuned for what I have to say next week! If you live in New York, audition, perform, or just love the arts, then you will want more of this behind the scenes look at the life of an NYC artist, brought to you by me, Anonymous Actor. Stay spicy chickadees 😉

BWALPHA

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A completely synchronized vocal and dance warm-up in under 30 minutes!

 

3 Things That Every Thank You Note To A Casting Director Or Agent Should Include (And 1 Thing You Should Definitely Leave Out!)

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We’ve all heard that after an important audition, callback or meeting it is a good idea to send a Thank You Note.  Certainly a wise business decision- a way to keep in touch with your new business contact and potentially grow your relationship with them.  However, I think something gets lost along the way when this act of giving thanks turns into a business transaction. Over the years I’ve had multiple students ask me about what their thank you notes to casting directors or agents should look like. While no two thank you notes will look the same, there are a few elements that are of utmost importance to include and one thing you want to be sure to leave out:

THE ACTOR’S CHECKLIST OF WHAT TO INCLUDE IN EVERY THANK YOU NOTE

1. SINCERITY

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Whatever you do be sure you are coming from an honest and sincere place when writing your thank you note.  We are all people and we all have instincts and can smell insincerity a mile away.  Be sure to give yourself the proper amount of time to write your note and find a space to sit and think back on your meeting or audition experience. Try to find one or two specific things that you are really grateful for regarding your audition/meeting experience.  If you can’t think of any,  you probably should not be writing that specific note.

2. CONNECTION

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Your thank you note  is your opportunity to reach out to that new person in your life and begin to build a connection with them. Try to include your voice or personality in the note in some way.  Give the person on the receiving end a taste of who you are. A few examples of how to include this are:

– Choosing a note card that reflects your own personal style.

– Allowing your humor or personality shine through in the text of your note.

– Mentioning something specific about the role or audition that spoke to you as an artist.

3. PURPOSE

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This goes back to the idea of sincerity.  Know WHY  you are sending a thank you note in the first place. Whether it is because the person you are writing to has taken the time out of their day to consider you for a role that you’ve been chomping at the bit to play or because they helped you discover your song in a new way – have a specific purpose for sending the note.  If you were at an open call with 300 people and they were typing and you got typed out-this could be a situation where you either don’t necessarily need to send a note OR you might find that you really appreciated the efficiency of audition- that is your call to make and really depends on your personal experience of the situation.

Once you’ve included Sincerity, Connection and Purpose into your note, the rest will generally take care of itself.  You may want to mention something specific about your audition to jog the person’s memory and put a face to a name but as long as these key elements are in place you’ve got a great place to work from.

Now that we’ve taken a look at what we want to be sure to include. Let’s discuss the one thing you want to leave out of your thank you note:

THE ASK

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Let’s talk about Thanksgiving.

Thanks.

Giving.

Giving Thanks.

When we write a thank you note, it is an act of giving.  We are giving someone our genuine thanks for their generosity , their time or just for being who they are. So many times we get lured into the trap of thanking someone with an expectation or hope that we will get something back in return: another audition, an agent referral, some feedback etc. See what it feels like to send a thank you note with the the pure intention of thanking the person for the experience that you shared with them. I guarantee you will feel better for it and will most likely begin to build a more solid relationship.

 

KimStern_PC_1Kim Stern is a co-creator and owner of The Broadway Warm-Up along with Deidre Goodwin. She is also a private voice teacher and vocal coach in NYC. Kim is the editor of The Broadway Warm-Up Blog. For more information go to: www.broadwaywarmup.com

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A Completely Synchronized Vocal and Dance Warm-Up for Performers

Now Available for Digital Purchase or Rental and on DVD!

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“Am I my resume?” : Living life wholeheartedly as an actor

BWALPHA copyAnother wonderful and insightful blog from our monthly contributor Jessica Latshaw!

Check it out:

 

 

I care very much about health. I am lucky; my parents put me in ballet when I was eight years old, introducing me to a way of life that both challenged me physically and fulfilled me emotionally. Soon, one didn’t come easily without the other. It’s still that way, and I have them to thank for it.
And though I am not sure the world needs one more article or blog post about the recent tragic passing of the great Robin Williams, his death is indicative of the fact that our health is not comprised solely of how we look, the numbers that appear when we step on the scale, the amount of accolades we have garnered, or how fast we can run.
Our health is the sum value of every single part of us. It’s what wholehearted living is all about: your body, mind, and spirit working towards the same goals. There is chaos and unbalance in our lives whenever one part of us–whether it’s physical, emotional/mental, or spiritual–betrays the goals we have and the values we nurture.
Many years ago, a good friend of mine reached out to me sobbing in the middle of the night. Being the genius and sensitive discerner that I am, I asked what was wrong.
“Are you hurt?”
She shook her head and kept crying.
“Is your family okay?”
She nodded this time, sobbing even harder.
Finally, she started talking and I pieced together what had brought her to this place. She has core values. She loves these values. She believes they are the right way to live and she has always strived to uphold them. Until recently, when she started betraying these values and shame set in. She still believed the values, and yet she was acting in a way that said she didn’t.
And subsequently life became chaotic.
images-1This is not a matter of being good or bad, though, see? This is a matter of living wholeheartedly. Of living in balance. Being in sync with yourself. Meaning every part of you is in agreement and moving in the same direction. It’s a healthy picture of a person. It’s what’s available to each of us.

 

Another part of wholehearted living is community. Reaching out. My friend talked to me that night for as long as she needed. I loved her; I listened. By the end of that conversation, something changed. Not because she or I were able to actually erase the past or snap our fingers and give her an immediate solution, but because she is loved and knew it and sometime between finding her crumpled in the corner of a hotel room–more tears than dignity–and taking deep, trembling breaths before standing up and declaring that now she was at peace enough to sleep, at least–the fact that she is loved became the bottom line.

images-2All this to say, it is very important to surround ourselves with people who care more about who we are than what we do. The pressure is real. To make money, to get the job, to fill your resume, to get the girl, to look good, to be good, to have a thousand things to say when people ask you that inevitable question: “So, what do you do?”
When is the last time someone asked you who you are?
If you crossed off the list of external things people can readily see when they look at you (an accountant, a performer, an instructor, etc), could you answer?
I remember in grade school, getting the assignment to write an essay on who I am. I was young enough to write out the whole thing in pencil, the letters big and awkwardly printed across lined paper. At that point, I had no job, earned no money, and had an unfortunate haircut that was a byproduct of allowing my brother to play barber with me one day. After he cut my bangs in a perfect diagonal line, my mom simply cut them all off (who needs the hassle of going to a salon when you have a perfectly good pair of scissors at home, anyway?), creating a short–albeit still tragically uneven–fringe on the top of my already too big forehead.

Good times, guys; good times.

images-3But I had a lot to say about who I am. I wrote about loving my family, loving animals, and drawing, too. I didn’t know it, but I was writing about the connection to both people and creativity, which has turned out to be the two greatest needs in my life when it comes to feeling fulfilled and alive. I had a sense of self then, and it had nothing to do with what the world would call success.
You don’t need me to tell you that life can be hard. From time to time, people who have heard about some darker nights that I have walked through will reach out to me and ask how they get through their own dark night. I always tell them to surround themselves with kind, safe people who love them more than they need them. To be purposeful about hanging out with those who they never feel a need to impress. To let your personal life be vastly different from an interview or an audition. To realize that life is more than a facebook status in which a new job is announced; that it’s made up of pictures. All kinds of pictures–many that we would never post on Instagram.

This is not a DOWN WITH SOCIAL MEDIA! post (I am a fan of social media, actually–Instagram, especially, because FILTERS!). This is me telling you that you are way more than what you do and until you realize this, life will always be precarious, rising and falling with the awards, jobs, and notice you do or do not receive from others.

Live wholeheartedly. Be at one with yourself, your values, your goals. Create for yourself a community where you are loved for who you are, period. And from that place, you will end up doing so very much; you will end up impressing the world, whether you ever meant to or not, because a healthy, loved, balanced and wholehearted person is a breathtaking, beautiful sight, indeed.

img-26Jessica Latshaw is a monthly contributor to The Broadway Warm-Up Blog.  For more info on Jessica check out: www.jessicalatshawofficial.com

 

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A completely synchronized vocal and dance warm-up for performers. 

Now Available on DVD!

www.broadwaywarmup.com

Get Generous With Your Warm-Up!

BWALPHA copyOur friends at Motivated Movers recently asked Broadway Warm-Up co-creator Kim Stern to contribute a blog post that talked to their monthly theme of generosity. Check out this post and then get to know more about motivated mover over at www.motivatedmoversnyc.com!

GET GENEROUS WITH YOUR WARM-UP!

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It’s been said that generosity is the act of giving even when we are not necessarily in a position to give.

I recently joined a gym again and have started swimming. It feels great! The past two weeks I’ve committed to swimming every day and I have seen a marked change in my overall health, my energy level, my productivity and general well being.

imagesDespite all of these incredible benefits, this week it seemed to be more of a struggle to motivate to get to the gym and get myself swimming. I knew I would feel better for it, I had conscious intent to go and yet there was a part of me that felt a definite resistance. Oy! It’s no news that sometimes taking action to do the things that will benefit us the most can feel like moving a mountain. We just don’t feel like we have the time, energy or desire to give to ourselves.

Over my years of teaching, I’ve found this to be an overwhelming truth when it comes to performers taking the time to warm-up before a performance. While we all may have great intentions of warming up before each performance, a lot of the time when push comes to shove, our warm-up seems to be the first thing that gets thrown to the curbside if we are running short on time or energy. That was actually one of the things that inspired The Broadway Warm-Up, my business partner Deidre Goodwin and I recognized our students and colleagues either skipping their vocal warm-up and just doing a dance warm-up—skipping their dance warm-up and just doing a vocal warm-up or not doing a warm-up at all. We recognized that there was an urgent need for an efficient warm-up that could organically warm-up your whole instrument in a set routine and make it easier for performers to commit to the generosity of a warm-up.

lkIDuNPY44lbET9dwRvt7ba4-OsdQiJfAHlJRtFeAvg,FOW1SDVEwEr6Rr7Ta3MiCw7pi2gh-HvC6OMNMmZ11FU,LgeIJVEIJRVU0Z9AToMeISYh09KxWQSuBMVQnlpIQw0What if we looked at the warm-up as an opportunity to be generous with ourselves? An opportunity to give even when we are not necessarily in a position to give. How many moments in a day do really take out to take care of ourselves? A warm-up can be the daily gift we give ourselves and a true act of generosity towards ourselves and others. In warming up, we’ve prioritized our time and our energy towards the maintenance and betterment of our instrument. We’re being kind and generous to our muscles and are giving ourselves the best odds to avoid injury and achieve optimal performance.

Magic_Hat_-_sliderEvery time we warm-up we are increasing the probability that we will have a successful performance. By taking the time to prepare our voice, body and mind we are not only allowing the actual muscles to reach their potential but we are giving ourselves the incredible gift of preparation. Armed with the knowledge that we have properly prepared ourselves for our performance our level of confidence will automatically increase exponentially. That’s when we have an opportunity to discover some really magical moments as a performer. Because our instrument is awake and ready and we have gifted ourselves the confidence of preparation we are far less likely to become distracted by what is happening for us technically and have the freedom to be in the moment and artistically present! Huzzah!

In finding the time to warm-up you are not only being generous to yourself and images-1your instrument. You’ve also created an opportunity for yourself to be generous with your fellow performers and your audience. Take the challenge to give yourself the gift of a proper warm-up every day this week. Be generous with yourself. Let that generosity feed into your performances, your auditions and practice sessions. Comment on this blog and let me know how it feels to commit to that sort of generosity on a daily basis. As for me… I’ve got my bathing suit in my gym bag and am headed for a swim.

 

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Kim Stern is a co-creator and owner of The Broadway Warm-Up along with Deidre Goodwin. She is also a private voice teacher and vocal coach in NYC. Kim is the editor of The Broadway Warm-Up Blog.  For more information go to: www.broadwaywarmup.com

 

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A completely synchronized vocal and dance warm-up for performers. 

NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD!

www.broadwaywarmup.com

 

The Top 7 Signs You’re Working With THE BEST Voice Teacher or Vocal Coach

The Top 7 Signs You’re Working With THE BEST Voice Teacher or Vocal Coach

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It goes with out saying that we would all love to be working with THE BEST. We do our research online, ask our friends who they study with, find out who works with the stars we love and try to make an informed decision as to who is THE BEST Voice Teacher out there. While most of this seems like good sense when looking for a teacher– there is an element missing in this equation that is crucial to your success as a vocalist. That element is YOU.

I’d like to believe that in the city of New York (or most any city for that matter) a person who has set out to make their life’s work to teach or coach voice will have something extremely valuable to offer their students. Hopefully, they will have spent years doing their own exploration, studying several different techniques and pedagogies and making discoveries with their own instrument. They may hold certificates of study or be members of a teaching association such as NATS or NYSTA. They will have gained a reputation by slowly building their clientele and benefitting from positive word of mouth about their teaching. They may even have reputable clients that you recognize.

"Hey Elphie, I found THE BEST voice teacher!"

“Hey Elphie, I found THE BEST voice teacher!”

Of course, these qualities are desired in a teacher and when your friend tells you their teacher is THE BEST– that’s probably a fantastic referral source that you should take very seriously .

With all this in mind, the most important element in finding THE BEST teacher is finding out whether or not they are the best teacher for YOU.  The following is a list of signs that the teacher you are working with is working for you and you are a THE BEST match:

 

weinstein_goals1. MUTUAL GOALS:  You feel like your teacher understands and supports the goals that that you have set for your instrument and for your career.

 

SO HOW DO WE OVERCOME COMMUNICATION BARRIER

2. COMMUNICATION: You feel as though the way in which your teacher communicates is clear to you. You’ve found a common language and way to express ideas. You don’t have the sense that  your teacher understands something and you’re just not getting it.

 

3. CONFIDENCE:  You feel confident that your teacher has an understanding of your instrument and you as a person and will be able to help you achieve your goals.

4. TEAM SPIRIT: You feel your teacher has your best interest at heart and is on your team.  

Quote-Productivity-is-never-an-accident5. PRODUCTIVITY: You feel that the time spent in your lesson is well structured and productive towards your goals. Whether your working purely on technique or on repertoire, you feel that the time in the lesson is geared towards helping you move forward. 

 

 

6. INSPIRATION: You generally leave your lessons feeling motivated and inspired.

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7. FUN:  You look forward to your lessons and consider them an exciting and special part of your week.

Your voice teacher is an important member of your support team and the right teacher can be key in helping to reach your goals and stay motivated and focused. When it’s a good match you will feel supported, confident and like you are consistently making progress— it’s great! Whether you are looking for a new teacher or have been working with your teacher for years, it’s important to check in and see where you are and if these dynamics are working for you.

Keep in mind that sometimes we go through plateau phases or set back phases while other times we are growing exponentially. If you are feeling stuck with your teacher, that does not necessarily mean you need to move on. However, it would probably be a good idea to have an open dialog and discuss the situation. Most of the time, if you are feeling frustrated, your teacher is feeling that as well and would like to help you find a way through that frustration.You may make some exciting discoveries within that discussion. Other times,  you may discover it’s time to move on and explore your work with someone else– even if it’s just for the time being to discover a new perspective.

With the proper research you will be able to find several teachers who have a ton of great technique, inspiration, experience and resources to offer. The only person who can really know if you’ve found THE BEST teacher is YOU.  Whether a teacher or student, we are all artists and we got into this industry because we are passionate about music, theatre and creativity. It’s part of our life force.  We all want to be inspired and we all want to use our gifts and creativity to contribute to the world of music and art. The best teachers learn from their students and are there to offer their experience , knowledge, guidance and support. When those elements are in place and communication and inspiration is flowing… it is truly THE BEST. 

Be Warm, 

Kim Stern

The Broadway Warm-Up: 

A Completely Synchronized Vocal and Dance Warm-Up that can be completed in under 30  minutes!

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www.broadwaywarmup.com