Singing & Performance: We’re all in this together! - Missy Wise
photo courtesy of www.stagecenterla.com
October 23, 2014
I’ve been honored to work on amazing musical theatre productions both on stage and behind the scenes with some wonderful people. I honestly think I may be the luckiest person in the world to have not yet had a nightmare experience with divas and overwhelming bad-itudes. That being said, I’ve noticed some recurring things that can help make the process better for everyone. Here are some tips to help make you a better musical theatre ensemble member:
1. Come prepared.
Your private preparation is a way to show the director and your cast mates that you care about the project in & out of the rehearsal room. Time is of the essence, and if you show up unprepared, everything has to slow down. A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link, so…don’t be the weak link.
2. Arrive on time.
I admit, between the day jobs and traffic and daily struggles this one is hard to accomplish, especially for those of us still on the non-equity train. The thing to remember is that this struggle is the same for everyone. Being inexcusably late is basically telling someone your time is more valuable than theirs.
My good friend and Artistic Director Jared Watson always says “To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, to be late is unacceptable”.
3. Be kind.
It’s true that you catch more flies with honey. Being a diva is no way to foster the community that is necessary to pull off successful productions. Ask people how their day went. Offer encouragement. Tell a joke. For goodness sake, SMILE. You have the privilege of doing something that thousands of others wish they could. No time for being a jerk.
4. Be a bringer of treats.
The last ensemble I was a part of had no problem putting away some snacks. People even asked about food allergies/restrictions to make sure everyone was included. This is of course not required, but people really like treats.
5. Be flexible.
Things change and ebb and flow all the time when mounting a production. Those changes often occur at the last minute or even on the fly. Don’t be immovable. Try not to pout.
6. Ask questions.
Not sure about the change in blocking at last night’s rehearsal? Forgetting the same lyrics every time you sing through? Don’t really get the intention on a direction? ASK. Ask your cast mates, ask the production manager, ask the director. I would personally like to get it right in the run through rather than hear about it in notes.
7. Learn who you’re surrounded by.
I often find that the folks I’ve been cast with are marvels of the human race. They’re funny, smart, educated, experienced, well-travelled, over achievers, and extremely surprising. You’ll be shocked at the talent you get to soak in all around you. Your cast mates are your best teachers.
I have so much more to say on this topic, but these are a great start. Getting cast is an honor that many, many others didn’t receive. You are so blessed to be working with such incredible people. You are so lucky to be able to tell stories. Ensemble work can be incredible or it can be painful, and it starts with you!