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Robyn chats with Justin about star quality, actors with wit, and what’s really happening on the other side of the casting table.
Robyn Goodman is a Broadway producer known for Avenue Q (2004 Tony Award) and In the Heights (2008 Tony Award), and she is the Executive Producer of Bucks County Playhouse. Connect with Robyn on Instagram @robyngoodman3419.
Welcome to the sixth episode of Audition Secrets!
Be the you that you want to see in the world
As a producer, Robyn has spent lot of time in the casting world. She says that the single biggest mistake an actor can make in the audition room is not being themselves. People who are schtick it up or feign anything send red flags to the casting team. Robyn doesn’t want actors to walk in as the character, she wants them to show her the magic of creating the character. Be friendly, and show them that you’re great to work with. Bring your own, authentic energy into the room. And don’t “do” anything until you start acting.
Do your homework
Robyn says it’s obvious when an actor is underprepared. Simply put: this doesn’t set you up well. Memorize your audition material, if you can, or at least be very familiar with it. The casting team wants you to make choices! Robyn likes actors who say come in eager to try the material one way (of course remaining open to directorial adjustments) because it shows her that they’re prepared!
Let me entertain you
Justin and Robyn discuss what makes an actor stand out in an audition. Robyn loves encountering a song or monologue she isn’t aware of, and she loves actors with wit. Ultimately, she says, it’s all about finding a way to genuinely entertain. Find a real laugh in the song. Find something surprising within the scene.
A job well done
Justin speaks to the feeling that actors are on trial, being judged: “next case!” Robyn reminds us that the casting team wants you to get the job. They want to be finished with casting that character. They want to say, “Wow, where have you been? This blows my mind!”
As a producer, Robyn is very involved in casting, and she acknowledges being very opinionated (and having earned that right over her career). Most of the politics she encounters involve star casting (putting a star/celebrity in a role to drive ticket sales), and pushing back on that inclination.
Shine bright, shine far
“If you can get a star, you must.” So says Robyn about producing a show for Broadway. But she prefers making or discovering stars. Beyond raw talent, Robyn says stars are hard to define. Some people have a certain way of looking at the world that’s different from everyone else’s, and that shows up in the performance “and exposes their or our humanity."
Charlie Chaplin + Tootsie
Robyn cites Rob McClure and Santino Fontana as two performers who immediately demonstrated an infectious energy and joy, a certain attack on the material. In her eyes, they both have a confidence in their onstage points-of-view that make the audience come to them, which is thrilling.
Justin Bell Starini
Justin emphasizes that acting is less about playing a character and more about letting a character play on you. Robyn recalls when Justin stepped into a role in The New World at Bucks County Playhouse very last minuet. She says he brought his “truth, sense of humor, and gorgeous voice — and poured it into that character!”
It’s not you, it’s me
Robyn was an actor for ten years, so she knows the pain and suffering of “feeling like you did a good job but still not getting the part.” Casting teams have something in mind, and if you don’t get a role, it usually has nothing to do with you. Try not to take it personally!
A swing and a miss
Justin shares a horror story from auditioning for the 2011 Broadway revival of Godspell. He had an elaborate audition planned and knew the idea was great, but after executing, the casting team was clearly on a different page. Good ideas don’t always make sense, so all you can do is have fun! The casting personnel definitely want that. Prioritize a sense of play, and remember that auditions are dialogues; figure out if you and the creative team speak the same language.