by Lynn Hedl
If you are planning to audition for a slot on the 2014 FIA Showcase of the Performing Arts in Las Vegas this year, please make note of some important changes. If you have never auditioned to perform, let this be the year you step out and show your stuff. You will be able to tell your friends that you "played Vegas!" If you plan to attend as an audience member, we intend to give you an unforgettable show, and even though we have had to increase our ticket prices to compensate for extra expenses we will incur from the hotel, it will cost much less than any show you may attend on the Strip.
Who's playing? For the past two years, FIA has been lucky enough to secure professional bands who have not only played during the show, but who generously let us use their microphones and sound equipment for our performances. None of us were able to "sing with the band," but that is changing for this year. Thanks to the persistence and hard work of FIA member Dwayne Estes, we were lucky enough to secure professional musicians on drums, bass, keyboard and guitar, who are ready and willing to accompany performers. It goes without saying that everything comes at a price, and just as we paid musicians for the last two years, we will be required to pay these band members. In addition, because this is Vegas, extra costs will be incurred for use of sound technicians as well as hotel sound equipment. Thus, this unavoidable cost increase had to be passed down to Showcase attendees with higher ticket prices. In future years, we hope not to have to deal with these inflated hotel charges.
You're playing in Vegas, baby! Yes, you have an opportunity to get up and sing with a real Vegas band! Of course, this means that you really have to have your number well prepared. We are also keeping to our five-minute time limit in order to give performers an equal chance in the limelight. If you do plan to sing with the band, you will need to bring one copy of the sheet music or lead sheet you wish to use. If you do not have sheet music, you can obtain it in any key from several web sites, including http://sheetmusic.com. A copy generally costs around $5. It is probably a good idea to keep your original music and only bring copies in case things get misplaced. Remember, these folks are professional musicians, and as long as they have your lead sheet, they can style a song any way you want to perform it. As always, it is good to have a backup number in case someone else wants to sing the same song.
Opera, anyone? In past years we have provided a sighted accompanist, but we haven't done this in some time. This year, if you want to belt out that aria you have worked hard on, by all means, bring along a copy of the music and share your song with us. If you are a classical performer, a movement from a favorite sonata would always be welcome. Of course, you may choose to accompany yourself, have another person play for you, or to perform with your own instrument. Other instruments add variety, which every show needs, and in past years, guitars, ukuleles, flutes and harps have graced our stage.
Make room for the spoken word. In years past, we have always welcomed spoken performances in the form of poetry, stories, and even short dramatic readings. This year will be no exception, and we already have it on good authority that a certain beloved storyteller from Oregon will make an appearance with a brand-new tall tale.
FIA Mixer and Audition
At the FIA mixer this year, which is an ice cream social, you may submit your name, along with information on what you want to perform, to Lynn Hedl. You can also come to the FIA booth in the exhibit hall if you are not able to attend the mixer. Auditions will take place in the FIA suite beginning at 2:45 on Monday, and ending around 5:30. This year we are not requiring specific audition slots, but we would like to know who we are expecting to audition. Come to the FIA suite during that period of time prepared to perform your number. We will have a keyboard in the suite, but there will be no microphone. We just want to hear your number, time it, and later determine if it will fit in the show. Please note that you will be unable to sign up after auditions have been held. You will be notified by phone on Monday night about the results of the auditions. Please note that, as of this year, with no exceptions, we will no longer use accompaniment tracks or CDs.
It's Show Time!
On Tuesday afternoon, beginning around 5 p.m., the band will be set up in the performance space and you will be able to rehearse your number. If you are singing with the band, this is your only chance to rehearse with them before the show, so it is very important that you make plans to arrive in time to get this accomplished. If you are playing your own instrument or accompanying yourself, this sound check rehearsal is also a must for you. All performers will need to be present no later than 7 p.m., so we can arrange you in performance order. This makes it easier for volunteers to quickly get you on and off stage so that the show runs smoothly. Please plan your day taking these things into consideration if you are one of the performers. Luckily, they have food 24/7 in Vegas, so you can grab a missed meal any time.
Please address any questions you may have to [email protected]. This is an address specially created to share information. If you know what you would like to perform with the band, please send that information to the above address so we can get an early idea of how the show may be shaping up. In any case, get your act together, because it's Vegas, baby, and we want to provide the best experience for you as a performer, as well as for you as the audience.