Sheri Sanders, the mastermind behind the revolutionary rock musical theatre audition technique, Rock The Audition, took time out of her busy schedule to once again sit down with "Call Me Adam." This time around we discussed her upcoming not-to-be-missed concert experience at the American Theatre for Actors in NYC from September 25-October 2 (314 54th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets!
1. You are about to kick off your concert tour right here in NYC from September 25-October 2 with a unprecedented format: part concert, part pop music history lesson, and a special inside look at your rock class, Rock The Audition. Why did you choose to format the concert tour this way? Well, people don't have ANY idea what on earth goes on in my classroom unless they take the class. They just know that people change...A lot. I wanted the theatre community to see how I work, what I ask of people, and most importantly, what I stand for as a teacher and liberator. Oh, and I am a performer FIRST so that part is just me getting to "fill my own cup" so it can "runneth over" for everyone else. I couldn't perform while I was pioneering and I hated that part.
2. What made now the right time to do this concert? Um, these amazing young producers Kenny Metzger and Kristin Morris from the Araca Project contacted me to see if I knew anyone who needed something produced and I said, "yeah! Me!" I tried to do this concert in NYMF a few years ago, but I was so exhausted from writing then launching my book, that producing my own concert was too much for me. So I cancelled the concert until further notice. And now, it's further notice cause Rock The Audition has really hit a new and exciting level. And I've gotten some sleep :) And I have two people producing it now. I don't have to do it all myself!
3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing your concert? Your questions are always amazing. That popular music is not just important to study how to audition for Rock Musicals, it also creates a profound opportunity to soul search. Something that I fear too many actors don't get a chance to do because they are told they are "ingenues" and need to sing "ingenue songs" and play "ingenue roles" is ask themselves how they FEEL. About ANYTHING. They have messy raw wild feelings that get completely lost in the shuffle. Popular music allows for those feelings. Insists on them actually!
4. Joe Barros is directing. How did you decide that he was the one you wanted to work with? What has been the best part about the collaboration so far? Joe Barros knew me from a concert we did. I had a cold for it, but I was like," OK, cool. My voice is gonna have some texture on it" as opposed to freaking out. So my guess is he remembered that about me and called me in as an emergency replacement in a Fringe show. I had 3 days to learn the show before it opened. Why I chose him for this was that in those 3 days, he allowed me to be who I was, do my best, find my way through, be imperfect, with some real clear guidance and trust. And he is a FANTASTIC director/choreographer that I was dying to work with anyway. So when I asked he was like," F*&% yes." And so was I.
5. The NYC leg of the concert is being presented at the American Theatre of Actors. How did you decide on this venue? What do they offer that another venue might not? This venue came along with getting booked with the Araca Project. The Araca Project is really cool. The Aracas are these FAB producers whom I had the pleasure of working with when I did Urinetown. They have this UNBELIEVABLE mentorship program for Syracuse University. They mentor young producers, writers, casting directors. You name it. So when they asked if I wanted to do my concert with them, that's the spot they do it at! How wonderful for me since thats where Urinetown had its off-Broadway run!
6. As part of this concert, you are going to be bringing students on stage and adjusting their rock songs in front of the audience. What excites about this part of the show and what makes you nervous? Love this question too. The same thing excites me and makes me nervous. I have no idea what they are gonna do. They are brave enough to get in front of the audience. Just like they're brave enough to take my class and get up in front of class as well. But I don't know them, I don't know who they are or what kind of acting technique they have. So it REALLY is a gamble. It feels a bit dangerous and that really excites me!
7. You are also going to have emerging contemporary pop/rock musical theatre artists and songwriting teams to present selections of their work as the "opening act" of the shows. How did you decide which artists you wanted to feature? Well, it's funny cause this was the producer's idea, and the producers and I had different lists. They did the reaching out on my behalf and got some coooool folks, like JOE ICONIS!!!!!!! Then I said hey hey can I get these other folks too? Some are my friends who NEED to be seen, some are HUGE influences in the musical theatre scene. We've got a little of everybody which is awesome.
8. In this day and age of Social Media, how do you feel Social Media outlets have helped your brand? How do you think it will help promote this concert? I think social media has been INCREDIBLE for me because I have created a "Facebook persona" that invites people to come explore lots of stuff with me. If I say, "look at this" or "do this" people do it cause they KNOW I am doing my homework for them about growing in this genre. I am gonna do my BEST to send them to the right places to learn the coolest things. So social media may have turned me into the pied piper. :)
9. What are you looking forward to most about taking this tour around the country? Well I've ALREADY gone to 24 colleges with my classes and that will continue. It's really about, for example, going to Chicago where there are several musical theatre programs and a VIBRANT musical theatre community. And that I get to do this concert as part of my "residency" there so people get to see the impact popular music has had on ME. It turned me into a much cooler person.
10. What do you enjoy most about teaching your students and interacting with your fans around the country? What have you learned from them? This is my favorite question. My students have given me courage. When they break through I come back to my own life and say, "Sher, are you gonna break through your crap like that boy did today? Or sit in your dirty diaper and do nothing about it?" So thats the best part. What their courage gives me. I can speak honestly when I say it's saved my life.
Sheri Sanders is the acclaimed author of Rock-The-Audition—a required read in more than a dozen top musical theatre training programs around the country, and her in-demand master class has been a part of the syllabus for students at renowned institutions like Pace University, Boston Conservatory, NYU, Syracuse, Berklee School of Music and Oklahoma City University, to name a few. Sheri has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Out Magazine, Playbill, The Huffington Post, as well as on NBC News, Good Day New York, and on Oprah’s OWN Network. Sheri’s students consistently receive callbacks and are cast in Broadway’s top rock shows, concerts, and national tours; many also number among the top competitors on reality competitions like The Glee Project, The X Factor and American Idol.