When I got to the audition I felt ready and confident in what I had worked on. I had even found a consistent Nicky voice in the past couple days which has always been a hard thing for me. After hearing some pretty great guys while in the hallway, it was my turn. I walked into the room and actually felt pretty comfortable. There were definitely some nerves trying to work their way into the directors line of vision, but I was able to combat them with preparedness.
After realizing that I had a ton of material to do, Evan (the director) asked what I'd like to start with. I chose "Purpose" because it was how I had envisioned the audition starting for the last week. Whenever I have the choice to make something happen the way I've envisioned it, I take the opportunity. Tempo wise, I feel like I might have taken it slightly slower than I wanted, but I was able to hit all the acting beats I had been working on so I wasn't too worried about that. Next I did a Princeton scene which felt great. After that I did the scene between Rod and Nicky that sets up "If you were gay", first as Rod, then as Nicky. I was prepared to do "If you were gay" too, but we moved right on to "The Internet is for Porn". "I wish I could go back to College" was next and I was a bit worried what I would sound like after doing Trekkie, but in my search for placing his voice, I think I've found a healthy spot.
After "College" it was puppet time. They asked if I would rather put on Princeton or Nicky...a tough choice because Nicky is a cooler looking puppet, but Princeton is Princeton so I chose him. The puppet builder in me really wanted to sit and inspect the design but that's not exactly what you have time to do in an audition so I had to set those feelings aside. They had me start "Purpose" again, puppet in hand (or on hand) to check what kind of Puppet skills I might already possess and to see if I would be right to continue.
This is where the puppeteer in me started trying to reassure himself of all he's learned in the past. I'm not sure what I must have looked like but for you're reading pleasure, I've broken my though process down like so:
Purpose, ~wow, this grip is different from anything I've built before~
it's that little flame that lights a fire under your a*$... ~hmm, I wonder what it's made of...it's kinda like the king fish puppet built by Henson that I used in Elmo's World Live...
Purpose, ~that would make sense, Rick Lyon worked for Sesame Street~
it keeps you going strong ~ooh, remember the acting, I want to punch "full" tank because that's really the operative word, not gas just because it rhymes with the first line~
like a car with a full tank of gas ~yes, got it~
Everyone else has a purpose, so what's mine ~puppet acting, make sure he's alive, they don't care how good you sound right now, they just heard you sing...crap what do I do for the penny bit ~
oh look, here's a penny, it's from the year I was born ~watch your syllables ~
It's a siiiiiiii ~loosen the wrist, make it fluid~
iiii-iiii-iiiiii ~this new version of the music is good- oh crap what have I been doing with the arm rod ~
iiii-iii- ign ~do something with the arm rod ~
I don't know how I know ~ act!!! don't forget this means something ~
but I'm gunna find my purpo-
"Good, that was great"...
The second callback was a success!
On to the final, but with a quick stop along the way... Avenue Q Puppet School, a two day workshop involving puppet manipulation and character study to prep for the final callback. This means another trip to New York, and boy will it be fun. This is a chance to get to see how they teach puppetry and it means the opportunity to work on the material with the director. AND... I'm not sure if this is 100% for sure, but it is my understanding that Aymee Garcia (Avenue Q original cast member, It's A Big Big World tv show, and currently Shrek on Broadway) may even be leading the puppet workshop.
I can't wait! I'll let you know what I can after it happens.
There's a good reason why I have not been posting lately...
Now I don't want to jinx this, but since it's puppet related I feel like I couldn't NOT blog about it.
As Kyle mentioned I just recently made a quick trip to NYC to audition for Avenue Q! As you might imagine it's the ultimate dream show for us puppet loving musical theater majors, so when they said they'd like to call me back, it took everything not to jump through the ceiling. Adam, the casting director was great and upon realizing I had flown out from Chicago for the audition, offered to let me do the callback via video tape so I wouldn't have to pay the money to fly right back.
From the looks of it, they were mainly looking at me for Princeton/Rod which has been my dream role since I first heard the soundtrack on a car ride a few years ago. They included, however, material for Nicky/Trekkie too; in case I could be considered for an understudy position.
As much as I would have liked to tape and re-tape, nitpicking until I got a perfect take of each part of the audition, there was not nearly enough time... nor would that really be fair since everyone else gets only one shot anyway. With that, the taping was complete. Kyle gave me a crash course in video editing over the phone and I posted it to a private youtube account that night.
Soon after, I got word from the casting director that I was invited to the second callback. This meant flying out to NYC again to do the material for Even Ensign, the director!
Adam gave me a lot of great notes to work on from what he saw on the video. Notes that would help with characterization, intent, voices, and so on. What was great, was that I had a couple days to take those notes and really work on them with some of the faculty at school here. Since it was finals week, there was more time to spare and the sessions I had really helped break down the acting beats of the songs. Being able to talk through the lyrics with different minds was really beneficial. Everyone was on the same page, they just identified with different lines in different ways and had a different vocabulary for articulating those ideas.
Since there is a lot to say (and hopefully more to add within the next month) I'm splitting this up into different posts.
A few weeks ago I took Yancy to the National Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City. While unsafely filming inbetween lanes of traffic, our attention was suddenly drawn toward a frantic woman beckoning us to finish crossing the street for an interview. Not one to pass up an unbelievably well-timed opportunity (it was November 10 - the day Sesame Street turned 40), I traversed the remaining lanes and safely arrived on the sidewalk. Within moments I was given a microphone to wear and the camera was focusing on my cloth-covered hand!
We spoke for a few minutes about what I do for a living and what Sesame Street means to me, and as I settled into this impromptu interview I realized how crazy lucky the entire situation seemed. After a mere few minutes the interview was over and we parted ways... Talk about being in the right place at the right time!