The knee-knocking business of auditions in Langley

When there’s an audition call, actors swarm to it like bees to honey.

When there’s an audition call, actors swarm to it like bees to honey.

At Whidbey Island Center for the Arts’ season auditions in Langley, this was no exception. A group of 50 to 60 actors called to reserve a spot on the list, and many more were turned away when there weren’t any spaces left.

Actors and singers from South Whidbey and beyond came to compete for roles in the 2010-11 season, which features the shows “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” directed by Katie Woodzick; “Oliver!,” directed by Kira Vogt; “The Understudy,” directed by Vito Zingarelli; “Twelfth Night,” directed by Michael Barker; and “Metamorphosis,” directed by Rose Woods.

Evan Hoke, 20, doesn’t have a lot of acting experience, but has been singing all his life, he said. He was trying out for “Oliver!” and didn’t care what part he got.

“I’m feeling energetic,” Hoke said before he auditioned. “I’m singing ‘I Wanna Be a Producer’ from ‘The Producers.’”

After the audition, Hoke said he thought he had done well and gave a solid performance.

Jill Johnson, 69, is a seasoned performer and has been on the WICA stage many times before. She said that even so, she still gets nervous about auditions.

“It’s intimidating,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve been doing this.”

But some nervousness is good, because getting too confident is bad, she said.

Johnson said she wasn’t auditioning for a certain part, because the audition process is just a good exercise to go through every once in awhile for an actor.

“I just audition, and if they say they want to use me for a part, I say ‘Great!’” Johnson said.

Another professional performer, Amy Walker, 27, said she gets nervous as well. She hasn’t auditioned for a show in a year, and it felt great to be doing it again.

“I’ve learned to love auditions, but I do get nervous, especially in front of directors I know and respect,” Walker said.

She said she likes to mix it up at auditions and show the directors something they know, such as the song “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” from “My Fair Lady,” and give it a twist.

Mike Thompson, 20, recently had his stage debut in “As You Like It” and wants to continue with “this acting thing.”

He said that the connections he made with the actors in the show were what made him decide to audition for the WICA season.

“I am planning to audition with a piece from the movie ‘High Fidelity’ and a monologue from ‘As You Like It,’” Thompson said.

“As for the song, I’m going for ‘Rest in Peace,’ from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer Musical.’”

But besides the actors vying for a part in the cast, there are the directors who have to make the best choice they possibly can and choose people who will fulfill their vision.

Woodzick said she is going to cast people who have a passion for creating characters in her show, “Dr. Horrible.”

“I’m looking for a spark of originality in their auditions,” Woodzick said.

“Dr. Horrible” is a tragic, comic, super-villain musical, and it will be presented as the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” of this generation.

Vogt is going back to basics with her version of “Oliver!,” she said.

She said she is going back to the novel to get to the heart of the original Charles Dickens story.

“There needs to be raw truth in their audition,” Vogt said.

“I want to see the glint of sincerity caught in people, seen sometimes when they don’t know they are being watched for even a moment,” she added.

Zingarelli was the executive director of WICA about 13 years ago. But now he is stepping up to the new task of directing at the theater, he said.

“The Understudy” is a contemporary piece about actors in a Broadway production, he said.

Zingarelli said that he has attended shows at WICA through the years, and knows a lot of the frequent performers, but it will be different seeing them from a directors point of view.

“I’m looking for people to inhabit roles who are authentic and have great comic abilities,” he said.

Deana Duncan, the production director at WICA, said this has been the best year of auditions due to how many people are excited for the shows and the auditions.

“We have a core group of people who come in every year,” Duncan said.

“But we also have new faces, which we are always glad to have.”

Duncan said that this year’s shows are a wide variety and make a balanced season.

“We’re not just doing one kind of show,” she said.

“We are celebrating every art form, which gives our community more opportunities to enjoy our theater,” Duncan said.