Here we go again

An inside look at latest musical audition


Julia Carvalho

Senior Eden Smith demonstrates ensemble choreography in “Mamma Mia!” auditions.

On July 27 and 28, the Perry Theater Company held auditions for its first ever production of “Mamma Mia!” Set on a small Greek island, the play follows Donna, an inn owner, and her daughter Sophie as they prepare for Sophie’s wedding. While Donna is busy planning, Sophie invites three men that could possibly be her long-lost father to the event. As Sophie works to uncover the mystery, Donna recalls the memories she shared with the three men and grapples with the emotions surrounding her only daughter’s upcoming marriage. 

Interested students met in the auditorium and were sectioned off into three groups. In the choir room, the first section of auditioners reviewed their song choices and received advice from choir instructor Jameson Staley. The second group, in the dance room, learned a section of senior Eden Smith’s ensemble choreography. Those remaining in the auditorium rehearsed their prepared monologues under the supervision of the Perry Theater Company’s director, Shawna Marquis.

Walking into any one of the three rooms, one could sense the nerves, excitement, and focus of the auditioners. At the same time, a mutual passion hung in the air, bringing the competitors together. Although many of the auditioners were not new to the stress of the process, Rebecca Amend captured these feelings when she exclaimed, “We all do this and after so many times you don’t really get as nervous… of course you do a little but not as much as first timers do.”

Once students had the chance to prepare, Marquis analyzed their performance thoroughly in each area. At the beginning of the audition she explained that certain roles were a better fit for strong vocalists, whereas other roles were better suited to those with more dance experience. Keeping this in mind, Marquis began to make decisions on which auditioners could be a good fit for certain characters.

The second day was callbacks. Marquis explained, “Callbacks do not determine whether a spot is given or not.” In this part of the audition process multiple students were considered for one role but final decisions were not made. Those who continued trying out for the same character had to practice the same song, trying to perform it just as their character would. This process is very selective and allows students to convey their best abilities to Marquis.

For senior Sarah Bishop, who has been cast as Donna, the whole experience was unlike anything she has done before. Without doing any prior acting, performing a script in front of her peers was nerve-wracking at the beginning. Bishop claimed, “At first, I did not know what I was doing, and I just stood there and I read off the sheet, or whatever, and then I saw what other people would do and I’d be like, ‘Oh, I can move around and use expression or whatever,’ and it was really fun.” Auditioning for Donna was Bishop’s chance to try something new before her time in high school came to a close. “I was like ‘Why not go big? Why not try out for it? And if I get it, I get it. If I don’t, whatever,’ and then I got it which was really exciting,” Bishop shared.

Moving forward, cast members are practicing regularly to prepare themselves for their Nov 4. premiere. Junior ensemble member Mackenzie Landin stated, “We usually have rehearsals Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…and then sometimes we have to stay from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and then it might go longer.” The play will hit the stage on Nov. 5, 10, 11.