The Show Must Go On

This is the second in a series of articles covering the HBS Annual Show 2004 (Show). As mentioned in the first article, the Show has become a time-honored tradition and an essential component of the HBS experience.

Usually, the Show is a musical comedy and the characters are exaggerated HBS stereotypes like the overenthusiastic Baker Scholar, the overambitious investment banker and so on. Coming as it does at the end of the academic year, the Show thus provides a spectacular grand finale to another successful but stressful year and is the perfect opportunity for HBS students to let their hair down, and laugh at themselves and the preceding term’s mishaps.

The HBS Annual Show 2004 team is already well on its way to laying the foundation for this year’s Show. The Harbus takes you behind-the-scenes

for a look at the work of the moment – the HBS Show 2004 Auditions.
The process started on Jan 15th and 16th with the Audition Sign-Ups outside the Spangler Grille, where students could sign up for convenient time slots on the days of the actual auditions. The Auditions were divided into four separate parts – acting, singing, dancing and orchestra auditions.

Prior experience was not a prerequisite for auditioning and as the teams manning the audition desk told some of the more hesitant HBS students, the motto is “Enthusiasm is better than Expertise”!

The Auditions themselves were then held on Jan 20, 21 and 22 and were conducted by Jaya Tandon (Director), Jon Frank (Musical Director), Philip Behn (Vocal Director), Anna Dedousis-Wallace (Acting Coach), Jennifer Cole (Lead Choreographer), John Collier (Assistant Musical Director), Molly McCarthy (Assistant Vocal Director), Gaurav Misra (Assistant Choreographer), Shannon Dunphy (Assistant Choreographer) and Amber Carroll (Assistant Choreographer). Support was also forthcoming from Gordon Liao and William Gonzalez (HBS Show Board Members), Laura Franses (Producer), and Maria Trokoudes (Production Manager), all of whose assistance was much appreciated.

The Acting Auditions were held in Burden Auditorium. Three to four students were auditioned at a time and each acting audition consisted of three parts. First, the students were made to do warm-up exercises, which essentially meant that they were asked to jump and run about as senselessly as possible!

This was followed by the “object exercise” where everybody stands in a circle and pretends they are holding an object in their hands. They are not allowed to speak and can only communicate what the object is by their actions. The imaginary object changes as it is passed around from person to person. So, for example, the first person might do a mime of throwing a ball. The second person will then pretend that he caught the ball and that it turned into a kite which he will pass onto the third person who might pretend that it turned into a bird and so on.

There was a good deal of creativity on display here and some very interesting miming was observed, not the least of which was when a student dropped on his knees to propose to another student with an (imaginary) engagement ring in his hands, or when a student pretended to kiss another (imaginary) person or when one enterprising student pretended to take off her underwear and throw it at the auditioners! For once, they were the ones left speechless!

Second, this was followed by the improvisation and the stereotypes. This could take many forms. For example, one student could be asked to sell a chair to the other. Another popular version that was used was modeled on the lines of one of the games on the popular show “Whose line is it anyway”. In this, one of the auditioners would pretend to be hosting a party. A second auditioner would tell each of the students being auditioned to attend the party while acting the part of a certain stereotype like a hippie or a socialite or a rapper with eight people trying to crash the party!
Third, the students were made to read dialogues and monologues from the scripts of prior years.

The Singing Auditions were also held at Burden Auditorium and were divided into three parts. First, the student’s vocal range was tested and the highest as well as the lowest notes he or she could reach were noted.

This exercise also served the purpose of a warm-up. If the auditioners had a specific song from the script in mind, then, they would ask the student to do scales in the range that that particular song required.

Second, the student was asked to perform an acapella song which they had been asked to prepare at the time they were signing up. Third, then followed the pitch-matching exercise. In this, the student was asked to match his or her voice to a series of notes played on the keyboard. This helped the auditioners to judge whether the student “had an ear for music” or not – the worst extreme of the latter is what is called “tone deafness”!

The Dance Auditions were held at Shad Hall. A group of around 15 students were auditioned at a time and the audition consisted of two taught group exercises – one in jazz and the other in hip hop. Each time, one choreographer led the group from the front while the others observed the group.

The Orchestra Auditions were held at Burden Auditorium and consisted of two parts. First, the student would be asked to play any song that they had prepared. Second, he or she would be asked to accompany a singer.

This would give an idea of how quickly they picked up new songs.

At the time of going to press, the auditions had just finished and the students had been rated separately on their dancing, acting and singing abilities. Next on the agenda was the casting meeting to decide which student would be best suited for each part. Look out for the next article in the series which will introduce you to the actors and take a look at how the rehearsals are going!