Saturday, September 28, 2013

32-Bars for Musical Theatre

If you look up what songs to audition and what not to audition in theatre, the lists completely contradict each other. One website will say it's alright to use "Defying Gravity" and the other considers "Wicked" a taboo word. So, of course it's up to me to write down a list of some under-rated songs to use, and some that people may not warn you that you shouldn't use.
  1. DON'T use "Defying Gravity," just to get that one out of the way. Really, using anything from Wicked is a no. I know of one judge that as soon as they heard ANYTHING from that musical, they won't even consider you. But I also read an article by one person that said that the reason many judges don't like it when people sing it is because they've heard it done badly. What's my opinion? What do you know Idina Menzel for? Yes, she is going to play a Disney queen. Yes, she was in Enchanted. But mainly, her Elphaba is the most popular Elphie there is. So, with "Defying Gravity" being a popular song among non-acting people as well, this song is kinda like, HER song. You'll constantly be compared to her. And it's not original at all. I'm sure by the end of the day, the accompanist will want to throw away your sheet music after seeing the word "Leap."
  2. DO. "What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?" from Avenue Q. This song has a particular kind of performer it suits best, though. If you are a man who is in college or fresh out of college, then it'll fit you. The original singer sounds young and naïve, just like a lot of kids your age are. What do you do with a B.A. in English? / What is my life going to be? / Four years of college / and plenty of knowledge / have earned me this useless degree / I can't pay the bills yet / 'Cause I have no skills yet / The world is a big scary place / But somehow I can't shake / the feeling I might make / a difference to the human race.
  3. DO. "Every Story is a Love Story (Reprise)" from Aida. This song suits a woman in the 20-30 age range who still has a fairly youthful voice (say it's obvious that you're older but you still sound like you're eighteen). From deep within the tomb, a gentle light still shone / showing me my path as I ascended to the throne / certain in my heart that ancient wars must cease / The lovers' deaths gave birth to a reign of peace / and their story / and my journey / and the lesson they provide / drew their strength and inspiration from a love that never died.
  4. DO. "Sure As Sun Turns to Moon" from Tarzan. This song especially works because it is an under-rated musical (I didn't know it was ever even on Broadway until this year) and it is no longer on Broadway. You will rarely find someone else use this piece to audition. This song works best if you are of marrying age, preferably at least in your late twenties.
  5. DON'T. "My Strongest Suit (Reprise)" from Aida. As much as it pains me to never be able to audition this (I actually sound pretty good when I sing this song), this song is somewhat sad. It is also a duet, and being only a minute long, shortening this would take it below 32-bars (though it could work if you were asked to audition an 8-bar). But the point is, this is not a neutral song or a happy one. Avoid sad and angry songs.
  6. DO. "Two Worlds" from Tarzan. This song might be slightly over-rated, but it is gender-neutral, neither happy or sad, can be cut in several ways, and has different variations from singing loudly to quietly to sweetly. This is my audition song. Unless you live near me, you're free to do it. Hope Ezell won't be playing Amneris or Rafiki anytime soon.
  7. DON'T. "Easy As Life" from Aida. This is... in a way, a somewhat angry song ("This is how the gods reward the faithful through the ages") and we want to avoid that kind of chemistry. This was going to be audition song, but then I thought, mm, maybe not.
  8. DON'T. "Shadowland" from The Lion King. I can't express how I feel about this song and its original Zulu version (the live version from Hans Zimmer's album is probably my favorite though). I know just about every word from "Fahtse leso, lea halalela" through "Giza buyabo." So why wouldn't I audition this piece? It's in my vocal range, it's the song that got me into theatre, everyone who hears it falls in love with it, it can touch the coldest heart, and let's face it: It's friggin' perfect. I wouldn't audition this because it is one of the few songs that has made me tear up. Which means it's a sad song. I mean, come on. "Pride land, my land, tear-stained dry land, take this with you, fahtse leso..."
  9. DON'T. "Circle of Life" from you-know-where. Even if you're auditioning to play Rafiki, you won't even be considered if you shout, "Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba" and they will NOT respond with "Sithi uhm ingonyama."
  10. DON'T. "I'm Not That Girl" from Wicked. Like I said, "Wicked" is a taboo word on some websites, and this is one of them. Remember, no one mourns the wicked, and when you audition with a song from that musical, you'll be left only on your own. Wow, that was a really corny reference. This song is amazing. I could probably work this song. Heck, I could probably play Elphaba really well in this moment because, well, I know how it feels to feel that way (like, literally, the other girl had "gold hair with a gentle curl"). However, this is a sad song so it is a no-no.
  11. And numerous others... can't think of them at the moment.
I should probably make a part 2 but you know me... it'll take forever IF I even remember, so no promises.

Love you, chicos!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Whole New... Semester?

"...What I wouldn't give to have a new life. One thing I have learned as I go through life; nothing is for free along the way." -Jekyll & Hyde

It's a new school year! For those of you who didn't know, I had a very, VERY upsetting freshman year of high school, both academically, emotionally, physically, and mentally.

Academically: I didn't reach the GPA I had wanted to achieve (I wanted a 4.0... didn't happen).
Emotionally: I hated EVERYONE for absolutely no reason at all (for the most part). If you caught me on a bad day that year, I probably loathed you for a month. I'm dead serious.
Physically: I got a bald spot during my first semester engineering class. Must I explain why I want to be a performer and not an engineer?
Mentally: One word. AEROSPACE. Maybe when it's not such a sore subject I'll be able to explain how mentally unstable I was and what we even did.

So long story short, that's a year I would like to erase from my life. Too bad it's everywhere-- on my high school transcript, on my scalp (my hair is still growing back), in my mind.

I can't erase the events of last year, but I can make this one better, right? I can make sure others don't make my mistakes, aye?

Here is a list of "Do's" and "Don't you dares" to make this school year the best year yet, even if you have a while to go before National Honor Society and AP courses are an option.

  1. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr-- they all stop on Sunday. You heard me. I ain't having none of that! My sister who is a senior this year has a policy of waiting until her homework is done to get on Facebook and Twitter. That's cool, too, but I need to be more strict with myself to be productive, so I banned non-academic computer use for the entire school week. It works wonders! I'm not distracted and I can focus on the things that matter more to me. Art, of course! Plus I study more often now.
  2. Make sure you ask questions. One thing I've noticed about my classmates this year is that the ones that seem to be high achievers ask A LOT of questions for clarification purposes. Of course, I, being the wannabe-good-student that I am, I'm thinking, "Please. You could totally flunk this and still ace this class." But the thing is, the whole reason they excel is because they get help. They make sure they don't do it wrong. They take every opportunity to do it the exact way the teacher likes. This is also why they are set to be in the race for valedictorian; because they make sure they understand, their grades soar!
  3. Don't make a habit out of being absent. The students who suffer the most are the ones who are either late for school or they skip for dumb reasons. I've known people who have skipped for reasons such as a sore throat that they totally could have survived being at school with. Lezbehonest, I've skipped for reasons like that before and I regret it. Last year I was absent around seven times. Most of the time I was sick. One of the times I was traveling. I always quiz myself before deciding if I want to go to school or not. Am I avoiding a quiz I didn't study or homework I didn't do? Could I get through the day without throwing up, crying, passing out, or losing my mind? Am I completely miserable or just being lazy? If the answers are "I'm not avoiding homework/quiz/tests, I'm actually feeling terrible; I feel like I'm about to puke/die/get diarrhea (I have a diarrhea phobia, okay?)/faint; I am just so miserable," then go on and skip.
  4. Participate in class. Answer questions you know the answer to. Volunteer to read (even if you hate your voice, it's the least you can do). Write on the board. Share your ideas with the class. This shows true effort! I participate in geometry even though people who live on the other side of the world know I can't do math to save the life of a dying puppy (seriously... I had a friend subtract 1.75 from 5 for me). However, my teacher knows I actually care and he often helps me and inquires about my ideas. Do I still do poorly on quizzes? Yes I do. But I'm improving.
  5. Whatever you do, talk. Socratic seminars, debates, speeches. You're gonna have to do it, whether you like it or not. So just... just talk, okay? Participate.
  6. Read something. Reading for pleasure helps with the vocabulary section on the SAT, so just do it. A lot. Adult level books are probably the best. Theology, law, medicine, etc. I personally prefer to read about psychology, manga, comics, romance, and poetry. Plus, reading is fun! I was a total bookworm up until I was nine or ten, and then I absolutely didn't like reading. I just wasn't reading the right stuff. So find the right stuff.
  7. Find a study buddy! Today in biology, the guy I sit next to asked me if I wanted to study with him for a quiz we were taking in like, five minutes. Of course, I said yes. I quizzed him, he quizzed me. The questions I asked were things he hadn't thought of, and he asked me things that were challenging. We got our papers, and what do you know? Our method worked! So, always have a buddy! It can be the difference between an A and an F.
  8. Get enough sleep. If you see me when I am having an insomnia flare-up or whatever it's called, I'm not able to speak well, react quickly, and I definitely don't like people which somehow ties into my scores and social life, so just get nine hours of sleep. If you're an insomniac, there are drinks to knock you out, whether it's triggered by depression, anxiety, or just plain insomnia.
  9. Don't skip breakfast. You see, I don't eat breakfast which I should probably start doing. I'm hungry up until 12:15 and I can't concentrate without meat. If you're like me, eat breakfast.
  10. Get involved in extracurricular activities. It's okay if you aren't athletic; there are other things to do. I'm on one of my school's JCOWA teams with three other girls. We all get along and could easily work together (I live near one of the team members as I volunteer at the library she goes to) and I believe "together we'll be the greatest team there's ever been." This might be fun.
  11. Find something that makes you unique. I'm starting a wedding cake business soon and I am a voice actress who isn't in any shows yet (I have a portfolio and that's it. I'm kind of a model, but I'm not counting that). These are things that most teenage girls don't do. Being the director of the school play or being the president of the student body is cool, but... admissions officers have seen it all before. Be unique.
  12. Give back to the community. The library has brought so much to me that it only made sense that I applied to volunteer there in ninth grade. I love it! I like being able to keep it running.
  13. Set goals for each semester. I have my goal sheet separated in five sections: Academics, Theater, Culinary art, Music, and College prep. I have the list on my wall next to my bed so I have constant reminder that each day I get closer to achieving my goal!
  14. Keep an eye open for possible majors and careers. If you don't know what you wanna do, this is very important. If you already know, it helps to find a backup plan. Also, look at universities and colleges! I highly recommend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. 
  15. Never settle for less. If you can do better, do better. If you have an amazing idea, use it. You can only go through high school once; make it count! And, always study. Remember that if you did poorly in the past, that doesn't have to make this a bad year. You can do it, chumbanut!
"Each day is a brand new life."
-Deborah Cox, Jekyll & Hyde