Contributed by: Felicia Fitzpatrick, Sophomore, B.A. in Theatre and Dance and B.A. in African and African Diaspora Studies
In Wicked’s frivolous and favored song “Popular”, Galinda states, “It’s all about popular!”, as she prances around the stage in pink, giving advice to Elphaba about how to succeed. David Nathan Perlow, who portrays Fiyero in Wicked, provides different advice on how to succeed, especially when auditioning for Broadway shows.
David came to visit my “Musical Theatre Workshop” class, a course where B.A. in Theatre and Dance students learn Broadway repertoire and perform pieces at an end-of-the-semester showcase. Preparing us to enter into the professional world, this class offers many opportunities to gain knowledge and experience, and chances to interact with professional Broadway performers like David. This isn’t even the first time I’ve gotten to interact with professional performers since attending UT! You would think after taking a master class with West Side Story’s and South Pacific’s dance captains, meeting Beauty and the Beast cast members, and being greeted by Jarret Mallon, Corny Collins in the National Tour of Hairspray, as I walked into my vocal rep class, meeting another professional performer wouldn’t cause me to freak out like a ten-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. Well, this was not the case. I was so excited, and I knew I couldn’t wait to brag on twitter about how lucky I am to be in the Department of Theatre and Dance at UT.
Several of the advanced singers from our class were chosen to prepare a song that they could sing for David at the audition workshop, where he would then provide feedback and advice. David was intense and intimidating, yet charming and sincere. His first words during the workshop were “I’m only 26, I consider you guys my colleagues. We’re all the same age so I’m going to do my best to give you advice from my experience”. I appreciated his humility, and I’m sure the rest of the students did, which is why we were all leaning forward, furiously scribbling notes, and absorbing every word he uttered.
David’s piece of advice that impacted me the most? “Be in control of the room when you walk in for an audition. Don’t apologize for being there, it is your time to show off what you’ve got and do what you love.” It’s so simple, yet between the nerves kicking in, your throat feeling scratchy, and hearing four other auditionees singing the same song as you, you forget that you are there to do what you love. Which is why David encouraged us to be ourselves at an audition. “During a performance, you are a character, during an audition, you are you.” He shared anecdotes and memories, mentioning he auditioned 13 times before he was selected for the Wicked cast. He said, “don’t expect inspiration to come before every performance or audition, because it most likely won’t. Use techniques to check-in and center yourself.” His advice was endless and reliable, and if it wasn’t totally creepy, I would stand by the stage door and try to talk to him more, after I see Wicked on February 8th.
The hour and a half went by way too quickly, and needless to say, we star-struck students were not ready to let David leave. As I was leaving, my desire for an iPhone increased, so I could immediately update all my social media about the audition workshop with David and how I am grateful to be here. I feel that in this department, I can develop and cultivate these necessary skills to be a stellar theatre artist, as well as a conscious individual open to human connection. The talent, the creativity, and the expertise I experience here is impressive by itself, but the warmth and welcome I feel when I walk into Winship give me a sense of community, a sense of connection. I am constantly learning from my peers and professors, motivated to grow and stretch myself. When I enter the professional world, as a performing artist, arts administrator, or editorial writer, I will be confident that T&D gave me the tools to thrive and succeed.
Felica and her classmates attended the Wicked Audition Technique Workshop in coordination with the Texas Performing Arts Campus and Community Engagement program. Visit texasperformingarts.org to learn more about the current season and future opportunities for Department of Theatre and Dance students. Wicked continues through February 12.