Auditions for the first musical to come to the lakecity in over a year are scheduled for the end of August at the Williams Lake Studio Theatre.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a lengthy title for a farcical musical comedy set in ancient Rome during the heyday of the ancient Roman Republic. Modelled after the classic farces of the times, that eventually paved the way for all forms of theatre we know today, Forum is a classic girl-next-door story, except the girl happens to be a slave.
In three neighbouring homes live a collection of eccentric characters including a Roman nobleman named Hero, who is besotten with the virgin courtesan Philia and his slave Pseudolus, who is intent on obtaining his freedom by any means necessary. Hilarity ensues as Pseudolus attempts to woo Philia on Hero’s behalf resulting in a comedy for the ages.
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Casting is being conducted by director Sandi Alaric, a long-time theatre veteran, and choral director Kristen Lyons, who comes from an extensive musical background. Lyons serves as secretary of the Williams Lake Studio Theatre Society and has around 18 years of acting experience under her belt, much of it in musical theatre.
“Sandi Alaric, she approached me and asked me if I wanted to choral direct because I’ve had so much experience being on the actor side of a musical,” Lyons said. “I decided to take on the challenge to hopefully do the music justice. I like a good challenge and trying something new in the theatre world.”
Auditions, as in previous years, will be held over the course of two days one on Sunday, Aug. 25 at 2 p.m. and one on Tuesday, Aug. 27 starting at 7 p.m. at 4100 Mackenzie Ave. North. As this is a musical, Lyons said they’re looking for a big cast including around seven women aged from 15 to 90 and 10 men aged 15 to 90. Any auditioning will be expected to sing during both the audition and later the play Lyons said, in about two to three group songs.
Those wishing to apply for one of the roles with a solo singing part need to prepare a song of up to three minutes in length to sing for Alaric and Lyons. A speaker will be made available for those who wish to make use of instrumental musics.
Due to the physical nature of the play, Lyons said there will also be a “movement portion” of the auditions as there are certain roles requiring solo or paired dancing. Some roles will not have many lines but actors embodying them will be expected to provide physical humour and animated motion to provide background comedy relief.
Finally, as with most auditions, actors will be required to read parts of Forum’s script to see if they fit any of the roles and who has good chemistry together on stage. Due to the number of components involved in this audition process, Lyons said auditioners should be prepared for auditions to go for close to three hours rather than the usual two.
As always, Lyons said, everyone and anyone is welcome to come out and audition be they returning to the theatre after an absence, active members of the WLST or first time thespians looking to try their luck.
For those unsure if musical theatre is for them, Lyons encourages them to attend a vocal workshop she and Alaric are holding at the WLST on Friday, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. They’ll be focusing on vocal anatomy, how best to use your voice for projection, how to warm up for singing and how to blend your voice together with others in a chorus, Lyons said.
Ultimately, Lyons feels that this production will have a wide appeal amongst both the actors of the lakecity and the audiences. Forum is the first musical the WLST has done since Anything that Moves almost two years ago, increasing the demand.
“It’s one of those comedies where it’s just an escape. It’s pretty nonsensical, full of things that wouldn’t happen in real life,” Lyons said. “It’s something to go and watch and laugh at and musicals usually go over really well in this town, they bring in a whole different type of audience.”