Saturday, June 14, 2008

Finding Frida Kahlo

A few weeks ago I was sitting at work when an important NYC casting director walked up to me and asked for my headshot. Now, since I have been auditioning for months now and nothing has come up, I was pretty thrilled. She told me that she was casting a reading of a new musical called Finding Frida Kahlo. Thrilled? No. ECSTATIC!!!!! I really enjoy Frida's work. It's pretty morbid and graphic, but it is also really powerful and has a way of connecting death with our daily lives. Scary, yeah, but pretty truthful. Also, my family used to live in Mexico so I have been to Frida's actual house in Coyoacan! We're tight, me and Frida.


A few days later, the casting director who asked for my headshot sent me an email offering me the role of Andres in the reading of Finding Frida Kahlo. For those of you who don't know, a reading is basically exactly what it sounds like. A cast gathers and sits around to read and sing through and new script for the writers. By hearing their work aloud the writers can then make any changes they think are necessary. Also, a reading is a good time for producers to come around to check out new work that they can possibly take to new and more exciting heights!

I'd never done a reading before so I was scared shitless. I had no idea what to expect. Were the people gonna be nice? Was I gonna fit in? Was I gonna have some singing solos? What if I cracked??? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!

Thankfully, I was able to set up an early rehearsal with the guy who wrote the music, who was very nice. There was a lot of music to learn so I brought my little tape recorder and he plunked out all the music for me. He also gave me the tenor line which is always fun since you get to sing out like crazy.

The first day of real rehearsals was on my birthday. Pretty good birthday present, huh? My first real NYC rehearsal had to fall on my birthday. Perfect! And I mean that, I'm not being sarcastic. Another amazing birthday present was the fact that the reading was featured on and my name was mentioned. Craziness!!!!! On top of that, the other cast members were very very nice. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing and also seemed to already know one another which was really refreshing. It gave me my first taste of the NYC theatre community which, from what I saw, seemed to be pretty close knit.

The one thing that kinda surprised me was the fact that we actually had a director (and a pretty damn good one!) who blocked the whole thing! I thought maybe we were gonna have to stand up to sing a song here and there, but no, we were up and moving around! All the better for me since I haven't been to a proper rehearsal in a long time.

Oh, and I need to mention this. We were asked to write a short bio so mine went a little something like this.....

Jonathan Atkinson is thrilled to be a part of the Finding Frida Kahlo reading, especially since he is such a fan of Frida's work. Favorite roles include George in Sunday in the Park With George and the Emcee in Cabaret.

I realize now that should have added some other things like where I went to school and a thank you to the casting director (cause she showed up to the reading!) but I really thought it was to the point and simple. Little did I know it was too to the point and simple. I read everyone else's bio's and almost fell on my ass. These people I had been rehearsing with were REAL BROADWAY PEOPLE!!!! Most of them were either on Broadway at the time or had been at some point in their lives. AND they had not only been on Broadway, some of them had worked opposite such legends as Patti LuPone, Gwen Verdon, and Chita Rivera. Holy shit. I mean.....HOLY SHIT!

Pretty cool, right?

So, the day of the reading came and we rehearsed from 11am till 6:30pm for a 7:30pm show. I was ridiculously nervous but it went really well. Since we had such a short rehearsal process we really just had to go for it and we definitely did. It was a great time. And once I got out there onstage my nerves kinda left me and I was able to enjoy myself. I great NYC debut, if I may say so myself!

I wish I had taken some pictures but since it was such a whirlwind process I wasn't able to. I'll just leave you with some of Frida's work.....

The Two Frida's

Love you all :)

1 comment:

MAnderson said...

JONNY! This is so great!

I am very happy and proud of you. But I DID notice you didn't stumble over yourself to add 'WONKA' to your bio.