I just wanna slappa da bass while people in clown costumes swing around me.
November 9, 2009 5:46 PM   Subscribe

I play bass guitar. I'm not bad at it. In fact, I'm quite good. How do I get auditions to start playing for touring musicals and the like? (and do I stand a chance?)

A little backstory: My wife decided to audition for a community theater production of Rent. Which got me thinking. Why don't I try to land a spot playing bass instruments in a show? The only problem is that I have no contacts. Google searches for auditions don't turn up much. How do I get started doing this? Do I need to get representation? Do I need to just know people? I have no idea where to begin with this.

And for those of you with experience, here's a brief rundown of my abilities. Perhaps you can give it a quick look and tell me If I'm being deluded.

+ : I'm very experienced on my instrument. I've played in live situations before. I've got very good technique and a great sense of tempo and rhythm. I can play really any style. I know a little theory and I can read tab, chord charts, and sheet music. I'm mostly experienced with electric fretted and fretless bass, but I can play an acoustic upright, both pizz. and arc.

- : Never actually played in a theater production before. But everyone has to start somewhere right?
posted by tylerfulltilt to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, you need representation: by the American Federation of Musicians.
posted by BostonTerrier at 6:09 PM on November 9, 2009

Or you could contact the music directors of your wife's community theater production, or other local ones first to see how you like it. Bassists are hard to find for those guys - especially of the non teenage stoner/slacker variety
posted by Think_Long at 7:10 PM on November 9, 2009

The union issue is going to vary radically depending on where you are. Where I am (Boston) the vast majority of local shows pay so badly (e.g., $40 for a 4-hour tech rehearsal) that a union member would technically be in violation for playing any of them. You will typically neither want nor need to be a member until you've advanced to a certain level, at which point you'll know. The best advice I got when starting out was: "If someone asks you if you're in the union, you say yes. And then you run to the hall and join."

That said, if you're trying to break in, well, you start with whoever will take your phone calls. Start with community theater, call music directors of smaller local shows. Find out who contracts for your local theaters -- a touring show will hire local players to meet the house minimum pit size (varies by theater) and will almost always use whoever "always" hires players for that theater.

An audition could range from something formal to stopping by after a rehearsal to play a little. The entire community typically runs on word-of-mouth. I have a few friends playing in pits on Broadway and they all ended up there through the same path -- lots of dues paying, lots of terrible gigs, and eventually (for example) a player on a touring show gets sick, they get hired as a temp and knock the socks off the director, who forwards them up the chain, etc.
posted by range at 8:25 PM on November 9, 2009

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