What has been really fun about being part of WFYL 1180 AM’s “From Bullets To Broadway”, is that the scope of the conversations has changed from where we started to where we are now. In addition to show host, Sgt. Dan McCaughan and the show creators Dr. Jeff and Jacob Foy, we have had some really fun and informative special guests. The two guests featured on the latest show, Nick Kohn and Robin Lounsbury (Sound of Music), are veteran actors who shared with “Un-Block The Music” some of the nuts and bolts, funny and difficult situations they have faced with auditions. (Read on, but if you missed the latest show, you are in luck, it will be rebroadcast this Saturday, February 27 at Noon Eastern time).
If you have been listening to the radio broadcasts, Dan and I have expressed many times over, that working with the Foys may be a bit different than what actors usually face, starting with the audition process. On this week’s show, Nick and Robin talked about there being donuts at the door of the audition room; not too typical. Nick said, “how could you not do well? (From the start), there was good energy. You do your best when the room is welcoming.” Robin reiterated. “(when I walked in), my eyes went right to the Foys, they were smiling and looking up…you felt like they wanted you to do well.”
Auditions vary in other ways as well. A good casting director will give you preparation material a few days before, but that is not always the case. Robin said, “often times you are not given the music when auditioning for a musical. They say…come in and ‘do you!’ Show the best you. I am a comedian type. So, I do something funny and belty, then I will ask if they also want to hear something different.”
It might be a little easier if it’s an older musical and you have some feel for the music beforehand, even if they want a different spin when you are in the room. Nick, who spent many years playing Brian in Avenue Q, said, “I went in for Sister Act. I got all of the material 24 hours before the audition. I could only do my best.” That scenario did not work that time, but it might not always be bad because when you are not overprepared, that can free you up too, he said citing that he often books TV and film with not as much time to prepare.
It’s not all about your ability as an actor at an audition, you have to keep in mind, acting, like accounting, is a job, and you are going to run across all different personalities and you have to adapt and not take it personally. Nick said, one time he walked into an audition, the casting director was turned sideways and eating a sandwich. He only took a break from the sandwich when he decided to take a phone call in the middle of Nick’s song! “Not sure if they are rude or mean, it’s just business, but it makes you truly appreciate the dreamy experience of working with the Foys.”
“Un-Block The Music” asked, how do you get passed it when you don’t like the team? Jeff and Jacob said, “we have never cast anybody we don’t like. We are looking for people with whom we want to work.” Emergency is near and dear to their hearts. “We didn’t want to entrust it to be people we don’t like.” But, sometimes the personalities don’t click. Robin said, “I did a show; my cohort was not a nice guy. Nothing I could do was good enough for him. It just made me want to be so much better, so I could be in his face. ‘You don’t think I am good, just wait! The audience is going to love me.’ He brought out a really good performance, even though we couldn’t talk about the path. Sometimes it is like playing catch. You throw something out there, hopefully they will catch it and throw it back to you!”
Jeff said, “Before the auditions, I told Jacob to watch how the actors treated the piano player. You would be surprised how many people are rude to the piano player.” Playing piano for auditions is probably one of the hardest jobs on the planet…they have to play cold all of the time. Jacob said, the show’s director agreed. He, too, placed a lot of importance on how actors handled themselves in the audition room.
Nick said, he auditioned for something and the director told me him that he personally called two former employers per potential cast member to make sure they were easy to work with and could take direction. “He said, ‘I don’t have time to work with difficult people.’”
You know the monitor outside the audition room that signs you in and takes resumes and headhsots? Well, Robin said, one director she knew told the monitor to put a plus or minus at the top of the resume based on how that actor was reacting to others around them. Suffice to say, it’s not just about talent! Robin said, “it’s like running an Emergency Room. You have to have a well -oiled machine to work properly.”
Jeff and Jacob agree. Since first casting Emergency, they have casted two other shows, One Night Only and their new show The Z Team which will be part of the Front Line Fringe Festival in March (more on that next week.) Jacob said, “ we casted One Night Only virtually so it was different initially looking at self-tape auditions. If they liked an audition, they called the actor back for a live virtual audition. “While, it made the process more difficult, our approach is the same and will stay the same when casting people with whom we want to work,” Jeff said.
The Foys have worked thus far with Daryl Eisenberg casting and they are more than happy. Jacob said, “she was good about letting us cast the show we wanted.”
If you want to her music from Emergency and/or One Night Only, check out these links:
If you have missed any of the other past episodes of “From Bullets To Broadway, Anatomy of A Broadway Show, Featuring Emergency The Musical,” it’s not too late to hear them. Go to https://www.1180wfyl.com/ and hit “podcasts.”