BEING UNFORGETTABLE with Aidan Park What musical theatre casting directors are really looking for...
Aidan Park shares his thoughts on being unforgettable in the audition room, and will
be having a master class at MMT!
Hi Everyone! In this crazy world of Musical Theatre, things can absolutely get overwhelming. Musical Theatre actors must all somehow sing! dance! act! at the same time!
I remember back in 2006 when Louis, Jordan and I were all in a production of "HOT MIKADO" together and the director at the time told me to do a split leap, while belting an F while looking natural and proud to be a "Gentleman of Ja-PAAAANNN" (I'm Korean by the way) . . . So I feel your pain. We need to spin a lot of plates!
But one of the most daunting elements of being a Musical Theatre actor is . . . AUDITIONING! What song to pick? How to act the song? How to stand out? What are these casting directors looking for?!?!? This blog post will demystify some of the casting process for you.
I'm Aidan Park and you may be wondering why you should listen to me. I'm an actor and stand-up comedian based out of LA who has auditioned a lot! I am thrilled to take a break from LA to come to Music Mountain Theatre and do some theatre and also offer my master class at MMT!
I've been in the performing arts business for 20 years (right out of high school) I've performed in all mediums from film, tv, commercials, musical theatre, concerts, Shakespeare, plays, stand-up comedy . . . I've auditioned for various projects probably over 2000 times!
I've also worked behind the scenes as director, producer, writer and casting director. With all my experience and years of grinding it out, I can tell you with certainty that casting directors/directors/producers are not looking for the most technically proficient singer/dancer or actor. Technique is not going to win you the role.
Here is what casting directors are looking for...
Casting Directors want to see the essence of YOU! The soul of who you are! Who are you at your core? There are thousands of actors who can sing the song that you are singing at the audition with technical proficiency, but no one has the soul of you! To the degree you can lean into the soul, spirit that makes you uniquely you, expressed through the lens of your audition piece, the more memorable and essential you become to the piece you are auditioning for!
Let me explain with a personal story so you get what I mean. Let me use THUY from Miss Saigon as an example because I have played that role 9 different times.
Thuy is a character in Miss Saigon who is a Viet Cong military leader who tries to force his cousin (Kim) to marry him and when he finds out she has a child . . . he tries to kill the 6-year-old. Really fun guy. Anyone who knows me at all knows . . . Aidan is not scary. I laugh like Spongebob Squarepants, I am friendly with high energy, I can't even watch a horror movie without getting sad because I start thinking "OMG what about that person's mother? What is she gonna do when she finds out her son was slaughtered?" I'll admit I'm kind of emotional!
When I spoke to casting directors and directors about why I was chosen for Thuy ... I got responses like..."There was an innocence about you in your audition even with the harsh character" or "We saw your gentle soul in this soul less character" or "We found your internal conflict interesting." They were right. As I was approaching Thuy as I would see it . . . I could understand how this character might have become how he is (i mean he had to learn to be tough) . . . and I did have an internal conflict as Aidan, doing what the character is choosing to do (Like trying to kill a 6-year-old). I would have a hard time trying to kill the 6-year-old . . . and so as tough as I was trying to be . . . I kinda couldn't help but feel bad . . . I wasn't trying to show my guilt . . . (in fact I was desperately trying to hide it) but . . . I guess it leaked out.
That intangible element is what won me the role. Sure, I could sing the song and do the blocking, but so can 30 other Asian male actors. What won me the role over and over was my being in touch with who I was and that coming through the lens of the character. This created a unique perspective and interest.
I auditioned for Louis Palena (MMT artistic director) way back in 2006 and I did "She Loves Me" and the dark piece from Miss Saigon. Louis paid me a great compliment and said he still remembers my audition and called me back 16-years later to do the producers! That is a memorable audition. I feel this kind of impression can only come from being in touch with who you are and by allowing that special soul of YOU to shine through, through the context of the song, or the piece, or whatever!!
So! Here is what I advocate! Get to know who you are! What makes you unique? What makes you special? Who are you? I would love for everyone to honor who they are and allow that unique special perspective to shine through the lens of the character they are portraying in the audition.
This is what everyone wants actually! Whether you are auditioning for TV, FILM, or SHAKESPEARE. If you are doing stand-up comedy, cabaret, going to a job interview, meeting friends, going on dates. Everyone you encounter, at the end of the day, wants to see who you are. The more comfortable you can become with who you are and allowing yourself to be seen, the more enriching career, relationships, friendships, and life experience you will have.
The audition class I am teaching, will help you identify the uniqueness of you.
About the Class
Here is how the class will break down:
We will have a 30-minute personal one-on-one zoom session all about YOU!
In these sessions, I will identify your intangible qualities and perspectives
We (the Music Mountain team and I) will pick a song for you that will perfectly express "you" through the song in an audition setting.
We will have a 2 in-person workshops where you will be able to practice your performance
We will have a final performance/concert and showcase at which you will perform your song!
Casting Directors and Producers
As a Bonus, we will have 3 LA casting directors and producers review your tape and provide valuable feedback on your performances!
Nina Gosiengfiao: 3 Arts Entertainment, a management company for Jane Krakowski, Mindy Kaling, andSeth Meyers
Ana Parsons: Writer, Executive Producer, Casting Director. (Azn Americanized Comedy Special, Jeremy Lin the Musical, Netflix Pilot)
Analisa Gutierrez: Casting Director, Director and Producer at Lyric Theatre
Whether or not you take the class I would urge all of you reading to investigate the juice of who you are and share that with not just the audition room and the stage . . . But with the world at large. We need your light :-) So share it!