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Theater auditions leave students excited, nervous

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Students auditioning for the musical were given two dances to memorize and then perform for the casting directors.
Rebecca Erickson/Winonan

Haley Loeffler/Winonan

Auditions for the musical “Dames at Sea” took place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, with callbacks on Thursday.

This is a unique opportunity for students involved in the theater as Winona State University only puts on a musical every three years. This year the musical is a comedy—a spoof on the common 1930’s musicals where a girl travels to the big city to try and make it in a production, lands a back-up role and then the lead gets ill and the girl is made a star.

Before Director Jim Williams calls everyone to attention, the group of hopeful students was abuzz with excitement and nerves.

Chattering filled the theater, some students busted into spontaneous song; others softly spoke about dancing experience.

The group was then split into men and women. The women danced first, while the men performed their vocal pieces. The women were lead by a choreographer on stage, and learned the steps three times. Then the choreographer stepped back to take notes and begin the elimination process.

The men walked into a recital room one by one to perform pieces they all individually chose for Williams. The men finished singing first, and were led back onstage where the groups combined to learn a tap dance number.

The groups helped each other by switching places so everyone could follow the dance steps and by teaching each other combinations someone may not have picked up.

After the number was run through multiple times, the women exited the theater to take a turn singing, while the men stayed to learn another dance number.

While waiting for a turn at vocals, the women sat in the hallway outside the recital hall. Voices were barely above a whisper.

Williams told anyone that was interested in theater this coming year to “be focused, be disciplined and know what you want. Take a risk, make a choice, go big with it and have fun.”

Williams said his favorite part of being a director was that “there is so much diversity of talent, and different styles of productions, that there really is something for everyone.”

Williams has been at Winona State for five years. “We are training a generation to appreciate the arts. Theater really is a reflection of life, using stories we can all relate to in order to show the human experience.”

Garrett Bowling, a junior majoring in vocal music education, previously in nine musicals, said that acting is “a way to have fun and de-stress.”

Chelsea Hobert, a senior majoring in global studies, shared Bowling’s thoughts and said theater is her place to “be silly, and play a different role for a change.”

Anthony Schliesman, a sophomore theater major, said acting and theater are his way to “entertain and give fun to an audience. It’s awaytomakeamassof people happy.”

Ana Corina, a freshman majoring in mass communications, said that acting is “expressing through other characters what you can not express yourself.”

The cast has not been made final yet, but Williams thinks they should have a solid list by Tuesday, Sept. 4. The show’s preview date is Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. After that date, the production will go from Oct. 17 through Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. There will be a matinee program on Oct. 21 at 2 p.m.

Contact Haley at [email protected]

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Theater auditions leave students excited, nervous