Sunday, February 23, 2014

Top 10 Audition Tips from the director of 'Kiss Me, Kate'

Slidell Little Theatre is holding auditions March 9 and 10 for everyone’s favorite musical, “Kiss Me, Kate.”

Audition times are 7 p.m. both nights.

Directed by Renee Saussaye, the musical features a number of roles for men and women of various ages. Auditions are open to the public.

Renee Saussaye
Prior to the auditions, Renee offers her Top 10 Audition Tips …

1.  Act. Don’t just read. 
Remember, you are auditioning to act in a play.  Yes, there are times when simply being a cute little kid is enough, but for the most part, we are looking for actors.  So many people stand before the director and read the lines they were given that when someone really tries to act out the part they make a big impression.  And that’s what you want…to stand out from the crowd.

2. Bring a photo.
You need to do everything you can to help the director remember who you are, and not blend in with the crowd.  That becomes much more difficult to do if the director can’t place a face with the audition form.  When you turn your photo in during registration it is attached to the audition form, so when we look at your form at the end of the auditions we can remember who you are.

3. Learn a little bit about the play you are auditioning for.
The more you understand the play and the characters, the more you will be able to do with the piece of script you will be given to audition with.

4. Take the time you need to prepare.
Remember Rule #1 – Act.  Don’t just read.  Once you are given your piece of script, take some time to get familiar with the part you are given to audition with.  Don’t worry that it isn’t the part you want in the play.  Parts will be assigned after the auditions.  We just want to know that you have the ability to actually act.  If you did your research and learned a little bit about the play, you can start to make some decisions about how to play the part during your audition.

5.  Slow down and enunciate every word.
One sure sign of nervousness is speeding through the lines.  When you talk too fast it is harder to make sure each word is understood, and the emotion that should accompany those words does not come through.  Slow down and make sure you say each word clearly.

6.  If you make a mistake, battle though it.
Even the best actors occasionally make mistakes on stage.  But good actors know how to work through their mistakes without letting the audience realize that a mistake was made.

One of the things we are looking for is poise.  We want to know how you will react when things don’t go as rehearsed.  If you fall apart during an audition, it doesn’t give the director much confidence that you will react well on the nights of the show.  If you do make a mistake, don’t apologize.  Don’t ask to start over.  Just pick up from where the mistake was made and push forward.

7. Try to come early.
In order to make the best impression, you should make every effort to come earlier.  Not only are we fresher and more alert, there are also fewer auditions for the director to compare you to.  The later in the auditions it gets, the harder it is to make an impression, and to have the director remember you and your performance.  

8.  Don’t be too cocky.
No one is guaranteed a spot in a play.  It doesn’t matter what other roles you have had, or what other theaters you have worked with.  If we decide you are not the right fit for the role, you will not get the part.  If you have good acting experience, and you audition well, you greatly increase you chances of getting cast.  If you come across as being someone that is hard to work with, it makes it much more difficult for the director to give you a part.  After all, who wants to take on a headache? 

I have seen quite a few actors walk into an audition because they just assume they will be given a part, and their audition is flat and uninspiring.  Then they are shocked when they didn’t get a major role in the play.  If you are taking the director’s time to go through the audition, you need to give it your best.  Every.  Time.

If you have acting experience, we will know from the information on your audition form or your resume. And we do like to see some previous experience, but again, that does not guarantee you a part.  It is not unusual that a person with no previous acting experience gets a good part because they blew us away in the auditions.

9. Audition often.
One of the biggest obstacles between you and getting cast in a play is your nervousness.  Nervousness makes you more timid.  It makes you rely on the script in your hand too much, so you end up reading and not acting.  It makes you talk too fast.  It make you less memorable and more likely to get lost in the crowd.

The best way to overcome your nervousness is to practice.  That means auditioning more.

If you don’t get the part, shake it off as a learning experience, and when the next show rolls around, go out and audition again.  The more you go through the process, the easier it becomes.

10.  If you don’t get the part, don’t argue about it.
The decisions about who to cast and who we have to say “no” to are not always easy.  There is a lot of discussion about who does and who does not get a role.  If the director decides that you are not the best fit for this show, please respect their decision about what they feel is best for the show they are directing.  It doesn’t always mean that you had a bad audition, or that you’re not a good actor.  It just means that you were not the best actor for this part in this show.  Arguing leave a bad impression on the people that cast the shows.  You will not change anyone’s mind.  All it does is make it more difficult for the director and producers to cast you in a future production.  That being said, it is appropriate to ask what you could do to improve so you have a better chance of getting into future shows.  
For additional information about the production, please email your questions to

“Kiss Me, Kate” is presented through special arrangement with Tams Witmark Music Library.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Audition Dates Announced for ‘Kiss Me, Kate’

Fan favorite musical caps Slidell Little Theatre’s Season

Slidell Little Theatre is holding auditions March 9 and 10 for everyone’s favorite musical, “Kiss Me, Kate.”

Audition times are 7 p.m. both nights. Directed by Renee Saussaye, the musical features a number of roles for men and women of various ages. Auditions are open to the public.

Slidell Little Theatre’s final Main Stage production of the season, “Kiss Me, Kate” is a play-within-a-play with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The story involves the production of a musical version of William Shakespeare's “The Taming of the Shrew” and the conflict on and off-stage between Fred Graham, the show's director, producer, and star, and his leading lady, his ex-wife Lilli. A secondary romance concerns Lois Lane, the actress playing Bianca, and her gambler boyfriend, Bill, who runs afoul with some gangsters.

On stage weekends April 25 - May 18
Performances are weekends April 25 – May 18.

A complete listing of the characters are listed below.

Auditioners should come prepared to sing 32 measures of a song that best showcases his or her voice.  Song selected should be from a Broadway show, not a pop song or anything you would normally hear on the radio. Broadway music styles are vastly different from today’s music.

Be prepared to learn a short dance combination for auditions.  Not everyone will need to dance but there will be choreographed movement for all musical numbers.

Be prepared to do “cold readings” from the script.  Nothing needs to be prepared in advance, but just be ready to do readings.

It is not necessary to come to both nights of auditions, unless the director asks you to.

Please bring a calendar so you can put down all conflicts you may have over rehearsal/performance dates, and bring a current headshot or photo to attach to your audition form.

For additional information, please email your questions to

“Kiss Me, Kate” is presented through special arrangement with Tams Witmark Music Library.

 “Kiss Me Kate” – Cast of Characters

* Hattie – Lilli Vanessi’s Dresser

 * Paul – Fred Graham’s Dresser, specialty dance & leader of solo trio for “Too Darn Hot”
* Lois Lane (Bianca Minola) – A night club singer in her first featured role on the stage

 * Bill Calhoun (Lucentio) – A Broadway hoofer, Lois’ partner, and a chronic gambler
* Lilli Vanessi (Katherine Minola) – A star stage & screen actress, former wife of Fred Graham
* Fred Graham (Petruchio) – Writer, producer, director, actor and superman
* First Man (“Aide” to Katherine) – Gunman-enforcer & half-donkey for Finale Act II
* Second Man (“Aide” to Katherine) – Gunman-enforcer & half-donkey for Finale Act II
* General Harrison Howell – Career military officer, politician, and Lilli’s “new” man

Pops the Stage Doorman (Padua Priest) – Ensemble, part of male quartet for Opening Act I and “Bianca” and 3rd male solo for “Cantiamo D’Amore”
Ralph – Stage Manager and ensemble singer
Dance Captain (Gregory) – Servant to Petruchio, ensemble dancer & Padua recorder player

Harry Trevor (Baptista Minola) – A veteran character actor

Stagehand #1 & Cab Driver (Nathaniel) – Part of male quartet for Opening Act I & “Bianca”, Servant to Petruchio, Padua mandolin player, 2nd male solo for “Cantiamo D’Amore”

Flynt, Aide to General Howell (Gremio) – Ensemble dancer and first suitor

Riley, Aide to General Howell (Hortensio) – Ensemble dancer, second suitor, 1st male solo for “Cantiamo D’Amore”

Stagehand #2 (Philip) – Part of male quarter for Opening Act I, “Bianca, and vocal trio for “Too Darn Hot”, plus servant to Petrchio & half-donkey for “We Open in Venice”

Stagehand #3 & Driver for General Howell (Haberdasher) - Part of male quarter for Opening Act I, “Bianca, and vocal trio for “Too Darn Hot”, plus half-donkey for “We Open in Venice”

Wardrobe Lady – Ensemble singer and part of female quartet for “Bianca”

Padua Inn Waitress – Part of female quartet for “Bianca”

Two Women – Ensemble singers and part of female quartet for “Bianca”

Four Women – Ensemble dancers

* Notes principal singing roles


Monday, February 10, 2014

Local Meteorologist, Former YATS Star Chairs Gumbo Cook-Off

By Don Redman

An alumnus of Slidell Little Theatre’s young actors program, WWL-TV meteorologist Alexandra Cranford is the Honorary Chairwoman of the 5th Annual Northshore Gumbo Cook-Off benefitting youth programs sponsored by Slidell Little Theatre and the Northshore Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction.

A participant in the Young Actors Theatre of Slidell program – YATS – Cranford appeared in several youth productions in the late 1990s to early 2000s.

Alexandra Cranford
I was the lead character Do-Nothing-Dale in The Magic in Me; the evil witch in Rapunzel; and in many other YATS plays,” recalls Cranford. “I loved my years in Slidell Little Theatre’s YATS program. The process is so memorable: auditioning, finding out which role you’re cast in, memorizing lines, rehearsing, assembling your costume. I especially loved the live performances; it was so rewarding to see the final production emerge after weeks of hard work in rehearsals.”

Cranford adds that live theatre, even at an early age, gave her the courage to explore beyond her comfort zone and provided her with skills she still uses today.

“Community theatre was a wonderful thing for me as a kid,” she says. “I’m naturally pretty quiet and reserved, and the theatre gave me a place to break out of my shell a little. It made me realize that doing things in front of an audience isn’t scary – it can be interesting and satisfying. And that applies to my career today. Back then I performed in plays; today I deliver forecasts in a newscast. Learning to adlib comes in handy today, too, especially since weather people don’t use TelePrompTers!”

A native of Slidell, Cranford attended St. Margaret Mary Catholic School and Slidell High and graduated summa cum laude in 2009 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge where she served as Chief Forecaster for LSU’s campus news program and worked in a Biological Sciences Laboratory as part of her LSU Chancellor’s Scholarship.

A baker at heart, Cranford says even though she grew up with gumbo and loves it to this day, she has never attempted to make it. “I like to cook, but somehow I’ve never tried to make my own gumbo,” she says. “I’m better at baking. I’ve made quite a few bread puddings, which I think of as the dessert version of gumbo. They’re both rich and southern, and each one is a little different.”

But when she does decide to make her own gumbo, she’ll likely turn for advice from her personal favorite gumbo king – her dad.

“My dad is the gumbo specialist in my family,” says Cranford. “He even makes his own gumbo filé from local sassafras leaves. When I was a kid, the filé made me sneeze. Now I love it!”

Whether with filé or with okra, Cranford says she really isn’t too choosey about her gumbo, just as long as it has seafood in it. “I love shrimp, oysters, crabs, anything from the water,” she says.

The Northshore Gumbo Cook-Off will be held Saturday, March 22, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the grounds of the Bethany Lutheran Church at the corner of 8th Street and Gause Boulevard in Slidell.

Team registration is currently being accepted; applications are available online at The cost to register a team is $75.00. Business sponsorship opportunities are available, too. Email your questions to or call (985) 960-1177 or (985) 285-0737.
 Admission is $10 and children age 10 and under are free. Admission entitles you to unlimited gumbo samplings, voting privileges for People’s Choice Award, live musical entertainment and more.

Funds raised through the annual Northshore Gumbo Cook-Off will be shared equally between the two non-profit organizations to help each organization expand its local outreach projects that will enrich the lives of more than 17,000 school-age children, young adults and seniors in our community.

SLT will direct its proceeds toward the “Next Stage” project that will allow the Theatre to expand and add to its young actors theatre program. The Northshore NAWIC chapter will utilize its proceeds to allow the organization to expand programs like Block Kids, CAD and hand drafting contests, college scholarships and more.
The Northshore’s premier community theatre since 1963, Slidell Little Theatre is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to engaging, educating, and involving members of the community in high quality theatrical productions. SLT is supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council as administered by the St. Tammany Commission on Cultural Affairs.
 Slidell Little Theatre – where the magic comes to life!