Think of this cabaret act as Forbidden Broadway-Before They Get to Broadway. Interspersing songs with vignettes that depict every stage of the audition process, Would You Consider Ensemble? shows theatregoers what performers have to go through to get a job, and it gives performers in the audience the chance to laugh at circumstances that normally might reduce them to tears.
The show was written, produced, and performed by Elizabeth Figols, Beverly Hall, and Paul Story-three likable actor/singers with everything from Sesame Street to Steppenwolf on their resumes. They have turned their experiences pounding the pavement in hopes of treading the boards into a variety show of sorts, complete with vaudeville-like placards on an easel that announce the title of each skit and musical number. The scenes proceeded in rapid-fire succession-more than 15 of them in less than an hour! Their satiric humor and use of show tunes (some performed intact, others "modified") remind one of Forbidden Broadway ; like that more famous revue, Would You Consider Ensemble? is most likely to be appreciated by theatrical insiders.
There is a strand of a plot in Would You Consider Ensemble? It follows three characters, bearing the same names as the actors, in their quest for employment. First, there's the sizing-up and attempted psyching-out of their rivals for the part. Then there's the scramble to find the room where their audition's being held ...then an uncooperative accompanist to deal with ...and a casting director who's so "short on time" he cuts the customary 16 bars to eight, then four - then just four notes. Later scenes parody typecasting and pretentious Eurotrash choreographers. And when one of our troupers finally lands a role-in a 312-cities-in-62-weeks tour of Hello, Dolly!-she's forced to accept such contract terms as a shared bed in Motel 6 for accommodations and playing tuba in the orchestra, driving the school, er, tour bus, and building the set as additional responsibilities.
Meanwhile, the audience also gets to watch various auditions, such as The Leading Man Audition (Story sings "With So Little to Be Sure Of"), The International Audition (Figols does "Besame Mucho") and The Character Boy Audition (Story with a Tom Lehrer ditty). The highlights of these musical interludes-and of the entire show-were Hall's rendition of Maltby/Shire's "Miss Byrd" (The Character Girl Audition) and Figols and Hall's duet of "I Will Never Leave You" (The I-Was-Too-Scared-to-Do-This-by-Myself-So-I-Got-My-Best-Friend-to-Do-It-With-Me Audition). Hall revealed precisely the offbeat charisma that could win her a character role, and she and Figols brought as much tenderness and sorrow to their song as did the women who originated it in Side Show.
The three performers were ably supported by musical director/pianist Paul Chamlin. Their material isn't profound and it may have limited appeal to non-actors, but it does accomplish just what an audition piece should: showcasing the performers' most endearing talents and qualities.
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Copyright 1999 Adrienne Onofri