Belles and Booksellers.
There are four now, the young, fresh-faced and beautiful women vying for the iconic female lead.
There are no big glass slippers to fill, but perhaps a big book to be held. Belle must be many things more past the beauty of a Disney princess. She must be slightly awkward around others, but comfortable in the presence of her equally intelligent and eccentric father. She must display an outward intelligence and emit a quiet strength. She must possess a bold mind of her own with a character strong enough to go against not only the Beast, but against the conventions of society as well.
The booksellers, older gentlemen, mostly, of varying heights and body types are memorable in face and feature in their own way. All exude fatherliness and a delight in Belle’s interest in books.
The LTGI casting board, watching intently, eyes either narrowed in targeted thought, or wide-open to note every nuance of gesture, intonation, cadence of speech, posture, every detail. There is some switching of ages, body types.
It’s Saturday, April 29, the second day of auditions, a bit past 2 p.m. We are back inside the same small classroom at LCC’s Guadalupe and Lilia Martinez Visual and Performing Arts Center for the remainder of the singing and reading auditions.
There are more people here today. Those who could, returning from the night before, along with a whole batch of first-timers, who could not for whatever reason make it last night. The new ones are are put through their paces of dancing, singing, and reading. And even though there are more people trying out, the numbers of those auditioning for the main roles have dwindled as the casting board has narrowed its focus.
Of Gastons and Silly Girls
Inside the classroom a trio of possible Gastons is each surrounded by a trio of silly girls. Three sizes of men all portray the same giant-sized ego. Gaston announces his marriage proposal to Belle, and the silly girls express their feminine shock, heartache, and despair.
-“Drop the script to see the number.”
These are invaluable pieces of advice from the board.
Tom Petty said it is the hardest part.
In theater, there’s all kinds of waiting: patient waiting, nervous waiting, anxious waiting, numb waiting.
But slowly, with time, the pieces start to fall together. Various chemistries gel. Hands to chins. Shaking of knees. Intent note-taking. Their faces have tightened, concentration increases. There are fewer people still, but the choices! There are myriad combinations of body type and voice tone — the wrong combination, an instrument out of tune; the right, a perfect symphony.
The last of the masses have left the reading. Some have stayed to read for the core cast, but there is still one last bunch, a final group of about eight who have not read.
There’s a more relaxed feel to the room after the major work is done. Now it’s just the details.. Whatever the outcome, the process of the audition is done. And for the first timers, that is enough.
The final group.
From dancing to vocal warm ups to singing and then lastly readings, voices are flat, raw, fresh, practiced, resonant, soulful, classical. How funny the utility of the process, and so it must be to see such wondrous talents, such exposed souls, hearts, dreams in all states of metamorphosis — from fledgling and unnamed to fully-formed and declared.
There’s a small handful of people left to audition for singing: an opera star, a couple of little girls. Auditions are scheduled to end at 5:00, and there are still some readings left. Again, as before, all styles of song are performed – from The Little Mermaid to “La Vie en Rose,” Adele, a beautiful, slow acapella rendition of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”
The board goes back to deliberating the merits of casting this person over that one for a particular role. There are more choices to make, though now from a select handful. If any more decisions are to be made, it will be during call backs five days from now on the following Thursday. By Thursday night’s end, the casting board should know who will be in the cast.
But when will those auditioning know?