Called Back – Lundstrum Students in the Spotlight

‘Tis the season for heartwarming shows and theater spectaculars, but area directors have been hard at work casting these shows for months. We sat down with some of our students who were called back and cast for different shows in the Twin Cities to hear their thoughts and advice for other aspiring actors and actresses.

When Annie lights up the Ordway in Saint Paul this December, Lundstrum students Audrey Mojica and Brianna-Marie Mraz will be among the dancing orphans.

The orphans of Annie with Audrey (far right) and Brianna-Marie (center stripes).

The orphans of Annie with Audrey (far right) and Brianna-Marie (center stripes).

After studying at Lundstrum Performing Arts for four years and taking private voice lessons with Director of Vocal Program Susan Casserly Kosel, Audrey was well prepared to audition for the show. She remembers being nervous before her audition, but after she arrived, she calmed down and thought to herself, “Even if I don’t get in, it’s a great experience.” Audrey believed her acting classes at Lundstrum were very helpful in knowing what to expect at the audition.

So far, Audrey’s favorite part of Annie has been learning the choreography, and as she prepares to play the orphan Kate, her advice to other performers is “Give it your all, and just keep trying until you make it.”

Audrey and Brianna weren’t the only Lundstrum students who tried out for Annie. Sadie Stillman, Jocelyn Goldman, Laila Mosley, Elsa Dungan-Hawks, and Gabby Reak also tried out.

Gabby, a Lundstrum student of three years, remembers when she found out she was called back, “I was at my friend’s house and my mom came running across the street, like ‘You just got called back!!’”

Gabby was thrilled after all the hard work she had put in to prepare, including private coaching with Lundstrum Artistic Director Kerry Casserly Carter. “We worked on projection and making sure I said the words clearly.”

"Lundstrum students know real professionals never stop training."
- Kerry Casserly Carter

Kerry gave her advice on little things she could do during her audition to help stand out. “When you walk up to them and you say your name, you don’t want to step back before you’re done talking.”

Kerry, who also coached Brianna-Marie, noted "I believe Lundstrum students have learned to understand attention to detail when learning musical theater material. These kids know that learning from teachers who are Broadway veterans and professional performers means working with people who really care about the craft. They have learned to respect the handwork it takes to train properly in voice, dancing, and acting. Lundstrum students know real professionals never stop training."

Practicing helped Gabby stay calm. “I could breathe,” she said, which was handy since her audition and callback required a lot of singing, including the iconic song “Tomorrow.” This wasn’t the first time Gabby performed a number from Annie however; she previously performed “It’s a Hard Knock Life” in a Lundstrum end-of-semester showcase performance.

While Gabby didn’t get cast, she’s glad she auditioned for the show and is looking out for future opportunities. She’d really like to be in The Wizard of Oz again, since she performed in the show with Lundstrum’s summer musical program.

In Minneapolis, Lundstrum students are also gearing up for the Guthrie’s annual A Christmas Carol production; Carolina Sierra, Levi Reed, and Daniel Untied are all playing in the show.

Levi auditioned with his sister Jeanie Reed, who was also called back. Currently part of Lundstrum’s Junior Conservatory program, both have been studying at Lundstrum for five years and are planning to continue building their skills in acting, dancing and singing right through to the Broadway Arts Conservatory (the highest level for students).

A Christmas Carol is Levi’s first professional audition. “It feels really nice to get into a show the first time that you audition,” he said. He’ll be performing as a street urchin and the child of a poor family, as well as understudying for young Scrooge.

Both Levi and Jeanie faced stiff competition for roles. There were 30 boys at the first round of auditions and 50 girls. The show was only casting 6-8 child roles per gender.

Levi and Jeanie agreed that the skills and professional guidance they received at Lundstrum definitely helped them prepare. Levi said the way Lundstrum’s classes cemented technical skills made parts of the audition, like learning a quick dance routine, easier for him than other performers who auditioned.

Levi Reed is in this year's Guthrie production of "A Christmas Carol."

Levi Reed is in this year's Guthrie production of "A Christmas Carol."

Jeanie also noted that since both of them are strong dancers, they appreciated how Lundstrum classes have helped them also develop their singing and acting skills. The initial audition was singing and dancing, while the callbacks were all line reading.

The pair had advice for other young performers auditioning. “Be yourself,” Jeanie said. “That’s what they’re looking for,” Levi agreed. “They're not looking for people trying to impress them, just be yourself. Don’t over do it.”

"Be yourself."
- Jeanie Reed

Lundstrum is now registering students for winter/spring classes in musical theater if you want to get in on the magic.