The The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts is offering a musical theater training program for novices with a twist – at the end of the program, you’re in a show.
The musical will be Rags, which tracks the experiences of immigrants to America during the early twentieth century. It was a collaboration between Steven Schwartz (Wicked), Charles Strouse (Annie) and Joseph Stein (Fiddler on the Roof), enjoyed a brief run on Broadway in 1986 and is now periodically produced in regional theatres. Theatre Labs’ production will be April 14-23 in the Theatre Lab auditorium.The training program is called “Creating a Musical Role” and is co-taught by Theatre Lab co-founders Deb Gottesman and Buzz Mauro. Theatre Lab’s course perspective states that students will learn “vocal production, how to act a song, how to sing a scene, defining the arc of a character, and all other aspects of singing and acting a musical role” and will “replicate…a typical professional production experience, from learning the notes through taking the bow.” It begins January 20 and meets three times a week through April 16. Tuition is $560.
Gottesman and Mauro, while known by many as two of the area’s top acting teachers, are no strangers to the boards themselves, having acted, directed and musical directed at Signature Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Arena Stage, Keegan Theatre, Studio Theatre, CUA’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, and the Bay Theatre Company, among others. (We last noted their appearance in A Man of No Importance at Keegan last June.)
It is not unusual for a training program to open to novices, but it is rare for such a program to culminate in a full-blown musical with 18 featured roles. “We believe that if you’re willing to put in the work and truly throw yourself into learning the craft, you can perform at the highest level,” says Gottesman, who will be directing Rags. “Too often people see an audition notice and think, ‘they probably want someone with more experience, more talent, more…(you fill in the blank)… than me,’ so they won’t even take that first step. But how will you ever know what you have to offer until you’ve had a chance to learn what it’s all about?”
“The first time we ever offered this course,” Gottesman laughs, “the Chair of our Board said, ‘Are you nuts? You can’t rehearse and perform a major musical with a cast that has beginners in it by meeting a couple of times a week!’ But after doing beautiful, professional-quality productions of Ragtime, A Man of No Importance, Jane Eyre and many more, we feel affirmed in our belief that you can aim for the stars.”
Gottesman and Mauro, who provides the musical direction for the show, say they are looking for a large cast of all ages, ethnicities, types and experience levels to “bring this sweeping musical to life for Washington audiences.”
Anyone interested in winning one of the featured roles should reserve a 10-minute audition space by e-mail at [email protected]. Be prepared to sing the song of your choice (bring sheet music for the accompanist). Potential students who want a place in the ensemble should request a five-minute “non-audition slot” at the same email address. All auditions will be held on this Thursday, January 13, at Theatre Lab’s campus, 733 8th Street NW in DC.
Note to auditioners – DCTS columnist Joel Markowitz will be at the Thursday audition, recording for an upcoming feature. Stop by and see him.