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Your ticket to shine: Community theater auditions open the stage to seasoned and would-be actors

Posted on Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 4:42 pm


Staff Writer
John Coffelt

Palms sweaty, heart pounding – you’re the next in line to audition.

Even the most seasoned actor feels vulnerable walking cold into an audition, but as a group of Millennium Reparatory Company directors explained, it’s important to not let that stress keep you from exploring what’s happening on the Manchester stage.

“I’d [like] to let the public know what’s going on here [at Millennium], because I think a lot of people think they don’t have the talent or experience. We’ve all been here for the first time,” said Millennium Reparatory Company Managing Director Noel Clements.

“We love to see new people. We try to generate a welcoming environment. We try to nurture newcomers.”

Millennium picks shows with large casts to offer as many small, introductory parts as possible to give people a chance to get their feet wet.

The next show to have auditions is the comedy musical ‘Funny Girl.’

Director Abbey Anchanattu describes it as funny yet glitzy.

“As far as auditions, we’re asking people to come with some music prepared, 16 to 32 bars. If they don’t have piano music or anything prepared, they’re more than welcome to sing happy birthday,” she said.

Those auditioning will be asked to perform a small dance and read from the scrip.

“For ‘Funny Girl’ we’ll really pay attention to their voice because there is a lot of singing, but we will look at how they lineup next to the precast role of Fanny Brice for her love interest.”

She noted, however, that actors don’t necessarily have to match perfectly the physical attributes of their characters.

“In theater we believe in the suspension of disbelief which means as long as the actor believes it, the audience will believe it too.”

She recommended people be confident and willing to put themselves out there.

Teens looking to participate in theater can audition later this spring for the upcoming show ‘Once upon a Mattress’ directed by Karen Wainright. The play is the musical comedic retelling of the ‘Princess and the Pea.’

Wainright suggests that actors be familiar with the story before the audition.

“Before I audition, I go on YouTube, find different versions, see different perspectives of the actors, and to see if it’s a story that I want to be a part of.”

Teens should have one to two minutes of a song prepared. Preferably, Wainright says, of the same style as the music of the show.

“If they have a character that they are really leaning toward, maybe do a song in the style that that character would sing.”

Millennium vice president and ‘Once upon a Mattress’ musical director Landon Spangler added, “You’re looking for a song that gets the director in the mood for seeing you in that role.”

He continued, “If we’re doing a show about fairytales and you want to be a princess, do a song that makes us think ‘princess.’ If you’re wanting a princess and do a song about a cowgirl, we will still accept that, but it’s always helpful to start placing yourself in those roles.”

Wainright said that the cold-reading portion of an audition offers a chance to see how actors will speak onstage.

“I’ll be looking for kids who read well, can project, who can interpret the lines well – I don’t want to hear monotone lines – kids who can understand the comedy.”

The directors all agreed that it’s not necessary to have a role in mind. In fact, some of them even are partial to actors who don’t have a role picked out.

“I prefer it when they don’t,” Anchanattu said. “That way they don’t get their hearts broken as often and are more excited when you give them a role and don’t take it for granted.”

Spangler adds that even when he auditions for a specific role, he has a few others in mind that he would like.

“I love this part, but this one is pretty cool too, so as you’re doing your research, you put yourself in those other mindsets.”

Your time to shine,

no pressure

While Millennium directors are as accommodating as possible, an audition is your moment in the spotlight. Alone. Even the most experienced actors are affected.

Anchanattu said that she botched a really big “cattle call” audition but still got the callback due to a director having seen her audition before.

Spangler said that he still gets the shakes.

“My hand shakes still in every audition. The rest of me will be composed, my voice won’t give out – I’m ready, but my hand will start shaking. That doesn’t happen when I’m in character.”

Wainright said that one reason for the stress is because of the unknown elements of the situation.

“I think the audition process is tough because there is so much unknown and anticipation.”

“It’s the hardest part,” Spangler added. “During an audition, I feel like I’m being judged – onstage, I feel like the character is.”

Auditions are something of an initiation, but should not become a deterrent. It’s important to be prepared but not to let the what-if-I-fail mentality keep you from trying.

Upcoming auditions

The director for ‘How to Succeed in Business without Even Trying’ is currently seeking four men, aged 16 to 60. All will have lines. Must be able to ensemble sing and dance. For more information, email

A workshop for ‘Funny Girl’ auditions will be held at 2 p.m., March 11 at the Manchester Arts Center, 128 E. Main St.

Auditions for the Millennium Repertory Company production of ‘Funny Girl’ will be held April 8-9 at the Manchester Arts Center. Auditions will be at 2 p.m., Saturday and at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Actors are being sought that are 16 and older. All characters in this family-friendly show are adults; however, teenagers will be considered. Note that the role of Fanny Brice has been cast. All other roles are open.

Auditions for the Teen Actors Guild production of ‘Once upon a Mattress’ will be 2 p.m., April 29 and 6 p.m., May 2 at the Manchester Arts Center.

For more information, go to