Next week, students and community members will get the chance to help cast the theater department’s production of Rent.
Callbacks for the show will be done in an unusual way. People are invited to attend and vote on the finalists for the parts of the main characters. Admission for the callbacks will be $5.
“The tricky thing with this show is that people who are used to the musical theater venue are used to this idea of the Fourth Wall, where the audience doesn’t exist,” NMU communication and performance studies professor and director Shelley Russell said.
“Rent’s different. It’s performed much more like a concert. [The actors] expect to see the audience’s reaction.”
Russell said that while this isn’t the first time something like this has been done, it is the first time it’s been done at Northern.
“I really want it to be kind of relaxed, casual. I don’t want people to get all nervous. None of us have done this before,” Russell said. “All of us are in the same boat. I’ve never auditioned someone this way. I just want to get in there with some music and find out who’s ready to sing.”
Russell said that she was looking for something new with this show.
“I need rock musicians. I want to find musicians who really enjoy playing to a live audience,” Russell said. “Anybody who is thinking about auditioning should come and audition. I don’t have any idea who I’m going to cast. I know what the voices need to be able to sing, but you know people will bring their own style. I am ready to cast people that I’ve never heard before.”
Performers who plan to audition are asked to prepare a sixty to ninety second song for the callbacks. Denise Townsend, assistant director and assistant choreographer advised performers to be prepared with a rock or pop song.
“Be positive coming in, and just roll with the punches. It’s going to be fun. We want to create a good atmosphere for people,” Townsend said.
Both Townsend and Russell said that people who are planning to audition shouldn’t worry about the live audience.
“The callbacks are going to be one big party, a celebration. And we really believe that’s going to start the show off on the right foot and be a positive experience for everybody,” said Townsend.
Ben Filipowicz, a senior elementary education major who is performing in Doubt and in the Haunted Theater, said that the callbacks make him nervous.
“I think I can talk for myself and everyone who plans on auditioning that it’s terrifying. I’m scared out of my mind. But, it’s going to be fun. I mean, we’re actors, we perform. It’s what we do. It shouldn’t be anything that difficult,” Filipowicz said. “Maybe it’s the fact that people are coming to have an input on whether or not we get into a show, when they never had that input before, I don’t know. One way or another, it’s terrifying, but it will be fun.”
Filipowicz said he was planning on auditioning for the role of Mark.
“Well, really, just because it’s Rent, I’d really love to be involved in any way,” Filipowicz said.
Filipowicz added that although auditioning in front of an audience can be intimidating, people who are thinking about auditioning shouldn’t be scared.
“It’ll be fine, so please come and audition. And if you’re not going to audition, please come to help us cast rent. It is a fundraiser for the theater, so please come and support us,” Filipowicz said.
Russell said that they are still looking for an accompanist who can sight read for the callbacks. Interested applicants should contact the theater department.
The open auditions will be held on Thursday, Nov. 5 and Friday, Nov. 6. Performers only have to attend one audition. Callbacks will be on Saturday, Nov. 7.