Hi, I’m Johnny!

BWALPHA

a Completely synchroninzed Vocal and dance warm-up

www.broadwaywarmup.com

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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

What to Wear To An Audition: The Rules

BWALPHA copyLadies in Gentlemen, it is with absolute joy that we introduce our next guest blogger… Gretchen Bieber! Gretchen is one of those multitalented folk who we just marvel at. You’ve seen her performing on Broadway, she’s one of the top hair and make Hair and Makeup Stylists we know and she just so happens to be a Broadway Warm-Up Cast Member.

You can discover more about Gretchen by clicking HERE, but first check out this installation of her blog for The Broadway Warm-Up titled From The Outside Looking In.  Keep an eye out for this monthly segment for fantastic Hair, Makeup and Style tips geared specifically for actors!

From The Outside Looking In: What To Wear To An Audition

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Hey! I’m Gretchen. Your friendly Actor/Makeup & Hair Stylist/Broadway Warm-Up Cast Member. As a stylist, having a “good eye” is critical. It’s not really something that can be taught. But it is something that can grow and change and morph into what’s current. As actors, it is our responsibility to also be current and know our product, know our brand. It’s our job to take a critical look at who we are and how we present ourselves in life and in the audition room.

Gretchen bw headshotWhen I first moved to NYC ten years (or so) ago, auditions were different. There were unwritten “rules”. We had black and white headshots, wore dresses with stockings year round (unless auditioning for Rent), and wore our 3 inch Capezio/LaDuca’s when we weren’t even dancing at a Singer Call! I had 3 audition dresses and 3 dance outfits in sensible jewel tones on rotation. Men wore a button down shirt, slacks, and dress shoes. Was it convenient? Absolutely. Was it appropriate? Not so much.

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BTW- we do love our La Duca’s!

The new rule is that there is no rule. We just need to find what is flattering to our type and “dress in the world of the play” (as Jen Waldman says). Anything goes as long as it is carefully thought out and on purpose. Do your research! The information is available at our fingertips with the click of a few buttons.

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Musical Theatre and Broadway have changed. What’s required of the actor has changed. And if we have to be able to belt a high “G” in spanish while dancing on roller skates playing the cello- all while looking fetching in our underwear…Rules are obviously out the window.

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Gretchen Bieber is a monthly contributor for:

BWALPHA copy The Broadway Warm-Up: A Completely Synchronized Vocal and Dance Warm-Up that can be completed in under 30 minutes! 

www.broadwaywarmup.com

Be Warm

You Want Me To Sing WHAT?!?!?… A Guide to Deciphering The Breakdowns

auditioning Please prepare: Your best 32 bars of an uptempo contemporary standard song, traditional musical theatre showing range and comic timing.  No pop/ rock or folk.

I can’t count the number of times a student has come into a lesson and been beyond confused as to what to prepare for their audition based on what it says in the breakdown or the information they have received from their agents. Most of the time the confusion is not the fault of casting or the actor.  It’s simply that over the years we’ve evolved several different ways to describe a style of music and have yet to agree on certain definitions. I think it is safe to say that everyone has a common goal when it comes to the audition.  The casting director would love for each actor to come in with a piece of material that is appropriate for the role they are auditioning for and that shows the actor off at their best.  The actor has the same interest going into the room. In the interest of getting us all closer to that goal, I’ve offered some definitions that I’m hoping will help to clarify some key phrases and begin to distinguish certain categories.  This is by no means a complete list –it is simply a conversation starter. Please feel free to share your thoughts as some definitions will certainly need to be looked at further. The list you see is taken directly from current breakdowns and auditions received from students.  If there are additional definitions you would like for me to explore please leave comments below and I will be happy to delve further.

Ballad: a song that utilizes a slower tempo.  Generally a ballad will contain sustained notes and emphasize longer musical lines and phrasing.

imagesBlues: Among the formal, identifying musical traits of the blues are the familiar “blue notes,” a three-line AAB verse form, and a characteristic use of the familiar blues chord progression. Examples: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith,Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Elmore James, Howlin’ Wolf, T-Bone Walker, B.B. King.

Brief Song: Around 32 bars or 60-90 seconds of music.

Classic Musical Theatre: Refer to Musical Theatre Standard. NOTE: this does not necessarily refer to a “Classical” style of singing.

Contemporary: a general term for a song that would be heard on the radio today. Not Musical Theatre.

images-1Contemporary Musical Theatre: A song from the musical theatre repertoire written within the past 10-20 years that embraces a more contemporary style of writing. This could also include a stand alone song or a song from a musical that has yet to be produced. Examples: Jason Robert Brown, Michael John La Chuisa, Stephen Schwartz, Joe Iconis, Kerrigan-Lowdermilk, Pasek & Paul , Ahrens & Flaherty,Jonathan Larson, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Adam Gwon , Andrew Lippa, William Finn 

UnknownContemporary Rock: Modern rock, a rock format commonly found on commercial radio; the format consists primarily of the alternative rock genre. Generally beginning with late 1970s punk but referring especially to alternative rock music since the 1980s, the phrase “modern rock” is used to differentiate the music from classic rock, which focuses on music recorded in the 1960s through the early 1980s. Examples: Nirvana, Green Day, Linkin Park, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avril Lavigne, Florence + The Machine, No Doubt, Alanis Morissette, Coldplay, Green Day

images-2Country:  Ranges from old-time string-band music to “Western swing” from blues decorated with yodels to smooth, pop-influenced vocals. The basic core formula, which consists of a straightforward chord progression, a resonating chorus or bridge, and a memorable story, will most often be the foundation of country music songs. Examples: Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, Randy Travis, Garth Brooks,Kenny Rogers,Lyle Lovett, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash

Unknown-7Country-Rock: A subgenre of country music, formed from the fusion of rock with country. The term is generally used to refer to the wave of rock musicians who began to record country-flavored records in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Examples: Emmylou Harris, The Eagles, Dixie Chicks, Carrie Underwood, John Mellencamp, Jim Croce, Keith Urban, Taylor Hicks, Taylor Swift

Gospel: A form of impassioned rhythmic spiritual music rooted in the solo and responsive church singing in the American South, central to the development of rhythm and blues and of soul music. ( We probably want to hear you wail.) Examples: I’m Amazed, I Never Lost My Praise, God Is Here, We’ve Come This Far By Faith, I Don’t Mind Waiting, Great Is Your Mercy, Wonderful Change

Unknown-6Legit: Refers to a style of singing that embraces a more classical vocal approach. Generally this will involve an open throat, rounder vowels and vibrato. Songs can come from Contemporary Musical Theatre Repertoire but are primarily found in Standard Musical Theatre. Examples: Rodgers & Hammerstein, Weill, Bock & Harnick, Yeston, Gershwin, Meredith Willson, Kern, Sondheim,Paul Gordo

Musical Theatre Standard: Generally this will refer to a song from the musical theatre repertoire from 1980 or earlier. The song will embrace the traditional stylings of Musical Theatre and can either show off a legit vocal quality or a belt. PLEASE NOTE: This is different from a STANDARD ( See definition below) Examples : Styne, Kern, Gershwin, Strouse, Porter, Lerner & Loewe, Jones & Schmidt, Rodgers & Hartt, Rodgers & Hammerstein

Unknown-2Pop: Pop music has been and continues to be a melting pot that borrows and assimilates elements and ideas from a wide range of musical styles. Rock, r&b, country, disco, punk, and hip hop are all specific genres of music that have influenced and been incorporated into pop music in various ways over the past 5 decades. Pure pop  typically consists of relatively brief songs with vocals that have a very strong catchy chorus, or hook. Examples: Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Beyonce, Pink, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson

Unknown-1Rock: Generally referring to music from the “golden age” of rock or “classic rock”. A genre of popular music that o developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. Examples: Aerosmith, Led Zepplin, Styx, Queen, The Who, Meatloaf, Guns n’ Roses, Deep Purple, U2, Whitesnake

R & B: Rhythm & Blues. A kind of pop music with a soulful vocal style featuring much improvisation. Characterized by a strong backbeat and repeated variations on syncopated instrumental phrases. Examples: The Four Tops, The Drifters,Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Barry White, Lou Rawls, Ben E. King, D’Angelo Unknown-3 Showing Range: This is a request to show off some of the strengths of your vocal range and what you would be comfortable singing 8 shows a week. The material need not show every possible note you can sing, but should give a sense of whether you are a rocking’ high belter, a fantastic rich mezzo, a lovely soprano with a solid floaty C, a soaring tenor or a warm rich  bass. Use this request to show off the best parts of your instrument.

Unknown-4Soul: A combination of R&B and gospel and began in the late 1950s in the United States. Soul differentiates from R&B due to Soul music’s use of gospel-music devices, its greater emphasis on vocalists and its merging of religious and secular themes. Examples: James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson, Etta James, Patti LaBelle

Standard: A song of established popularity. Standards can fall into several categories such as Jazz Standard, Blues Standard, Pop Standard, Musical Theatre Standards or Songs from The Great American Song Book.

Traditional Musical Theatre: Refer to Musical Theatre Standard.

Up-tempo: a song utilizing a quicker tempo.

16 bars: A cut of your song consisting of  approximately 16 measures of music. Ideally, this cut will have a beginning a middle and and end and will give a sense of your vocal strengths and ability to connect to a lyric. The measures do not need to be consecutive, but do need to be clearly marked and make musical sense. In some cases, your 16 bar cut could be the equivalent of 30 seconds of music.  You can generally have a cut that is slightly longer than 16 bars (18-24) but should be prepared to sing EXACTLY 16 if asked. Unknown-5 32 bars:  32 measures of music.  Generally the equivalent of Verse / Chorus / Verse of a song or around 60 seconds of music. As in the 16 bar cut , your 32 bars should have a beginning a middle and end and should give a sense of your vocal strengths and ability to  connect to a lyric. You may generally have a cut that is slightly longer than 32 bars but should be prepared to sing EXACTLY 32 bars if asked.

You may notice that there are several categories that can easily cross over and be misinterpreted. The more precise the breakdown information can be  the more likely actors will show up with appropriate material.  At the same time, it’s important that the actor make an informed decision going into the room. Be aware of who the composers  of the show you are auditioning for are and what their writing style is. Make an educated and informed decision on what to sing based on what you know about the show and the information that has been provided to you in the breakdown.

Case Study: I recently had someone come in for a Beauty and the Beast audition. She wanted to be considered for Belle. When I asked her what she was thinking of singing she said “Somebody, Somewhere”. I was confused. She said she was going to sing something more contemporary and belty/mixy but the breakdown had said “Classic Musical Theatre”.  I went on to explain to her that in that case, they were asking people to sing a musical theatre song as opposed to a pop or rock song. While the breakdown was a bit misleading, it’s also an important lesson in using your judgement to go into the room with something that you feel represents you best for the role you are auditioning for.

As musical theatre continues to evolve to embrace a full spectrum of musical styles, it’s important for us to continue to evolve our understanding of these styles along with it. Continue to explore musical styles that you may not be familiar with and really do the research when you are going in for a role so that you can be confident that you are going into the room with something that will represent you well and give sense of the style that is needed. If something is unclear in the breakdown, see if you can get further information either by asking or looking for other clues from the show— the character, the composers, who else is working on the project and so forth.  At the very least you will have an expanded knowledge as a musician and performer and know that you’ve done the work.

I encourage you to comment and continue this conversation— I’m certain there are several descriptions I have not hit upon and would be happy to explore them further.  Thanks!

Be Warm,

Kim Stern

www.broadwaywarmup.com