Chrissy Fournier: Training for College Auditions
Chrissy Fournier is an accomplished performer, passionate teaching artist and musical theater guru. She performed on Broadway and danced in several national tours. After touring Japan with West Side Story she returned to Minneapolis and became the original choreographer at Chanhassen Dinner Theater.
For the past 20 years Chrissy has immersed herself in passing on the craft of musical theater performance, using her rich experience as a Broadway performer, actor and choreographer. She currently teaches a musical theater repertoire class to the teenagers at Lundstrum Performing Arts in Minneapolis. She loves working with older students to refine their craft. “My work teaches musical theater repertoire using the classics. I especially love passing on the specific history of those times” Chrissy said.
Chrissy’s special teaching passion is acting. She enjoys exploring characters and building the empathy that comes with understanding them. “I really love working with the subtext of material,” she said. Private acting lessons have become her way of sharing her passion with more advanced students.
“These older kids are starting their college adventures, and they really need to hone their acting skills,” Chrissy explained, “I’ve coached a number of our graduates–– prepping them for college entrance program requirements.”
“Sometimes students want to run before they can walk, and you can’t do that. You have to go back to the basics and work up"
The private lessons allow Chrissy time to really understand a student’s strengths and weaknesses. “It’s so intimate. It’s so focused. It’s just you and the individual, so they’re getting all the attention, all the feedback,” she said. That feedback is critical to a student’s artistic growth. “The golden rule is to maintain objectivity,” Chrissy explained, “Each person is so diametrically different from another.” Individualized training gives students a clear picture of their skills.
Chrissy has seen this focused approach work for many students as they approach college and professional training programs. She recalled working with one young woman she met through Lundstrum’s summer musicals. The student, newer to acting, started taking private lessons with Chrissy shortly afterward to prepare for college programs. The young woman and Chrissy met weekly for an hour and began to make progress on the student’s audition pieces.
Chrissy gives her students assignments during the week, so every time they meet they can push forward. “There was such a tremendous growth spurt one week. I told this student you’ve obviously been putting in the time on this,” Chrissy recalled. She declared the young woman ready for her auditions. The young woman has now been accepted into one college program and is bound for New York to audition for even more.
When it comes to student auditions, Chrissy has several tips performers should keep in mind:
• Be aware of your environment. You don’t know what physical space your audition will be in. Both your volume and your gestures need to be adjusted to the size of the room.
• Pick a variety of pieces. Pick a funny one, a dramatic one, and one for a part you would never be cast in. This allows the people running the audition to see your range and gives you a chance to surprise people, including yourself.
• Keep your core. When Chrissy trains her students, she works with their whole person. It’s important for them to feel grounded as performers and as individuals. Maintaining their spirit is what allows students to keep faith when things don’t work out and be true to themselves when they do succeed.
“Sometimes students want to run before they can walk, and you can’t do that. You have to go back to the basics and work up,” Chrissy explains. Take it from a Broadway veteran, this dedication to training is what brings success.