SCHENECTADY -- Dozens of young girls from across the Capital Region lined up at Proctors on Tuesday to snag a spot in a touring Broadway musical.
“I’m really excited,” said Viviana Demarco of Schenectady as she waited for her chance to audition for the role of “Lulu.”
The part is a small but crucial one in the musical “Waitress,” which makes a stop in Schenectady on June 11-16. Throughout the day on Tuesday, around 45 local girls came out for the audition.
Viviana, who is 5 years old, prepared for her audition by holding daily dance parties around her house, said her mom, MaryAnn. The young dancer was just happy to have the chance to get on stage.
Evelyn Spring of Saratoga Springs, who colored while she waited for her name to be called for the audition, was feeling nervous.
Though Evelyn, 5, is a dancer, mostly focusing on jazz and tap, it wasn’t her dance background that made her want to try out. It was seeing “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” on the Proctors stage just a few months ago. Since then, Evelyn has wanted the chance to get up on stage and in on all the action.
To do that, of course, she had to audition for Dayna Dantzler, the associate casting director for “Waitress.” Over the course of the next few days, Dantzler will be reviewing the auditions and picking two girls to play the role, as well as a few alternates. The two “Lulus” who are picked will share the role and each will perform in four performances.
Dantzler has worked with the show since 2017 and has gone to around 20 cities so far searching for local talent to step into the role of Lulu.
The character is meant to be a carefree and fun girl around 4 or 5 years old. She’s the daughter of Jenna, an expert pie baker working at a local diner who is stuck in a loveless marriage. Lulu becomes her saving grace.
“We’re looking for personality. We’re looking for someone who is going to pick up the material as quick as possible because they have a very [short] rehearsal period,” Dantzler said. The girls who are selected for the role will only have one day of rehearsal before the performance, so they’ve got to be quick learners.
One of the first to audition was Lucia Bogardus of Albany. Though no parents are allowed in the audition, 4-year-old Lucia didn’t come alone. She had her trusty Boogie Board drawing tablet with her.
Surprised, Dantzler asked Lucia — whose nickname is Lulu — how to use it. Lucia shyly showed her how while Dantzler asked her questions about her life.
Before getting into the acting portion of the audition, Dantzler likes to start out with a conversation with the young prospective actresses, both to hear their stories and learn more about them.
“You can find out which girls are there because they want to be there and which girls are there because their parents want them to be there,” Dantzler said.
Though that was the case for some of the kids, it certainly wasn’t for Lucia. She took Dantzler’s directions enthusiastically and only needed to go over them once or twice. After a few minutes of running through the line, “Hi, Mama!” running and dancing, she left with a smile and her Boogie Board.
While no acting experience was required to audition, Dantzler has noticed that some kids came already knowing the part, either because they’ve seen the show or they’ve watched other auditions on YouTube.
“I’ll even ask them, ‘Did you practice this with your mom?’” Dantzler said.
Genevieve Carmichael of Amsterdam was one such girl. At just 3 years old, she came to the audition dressed in pink and with her hair tied in pigtails. Shortly before going into the audition, she happily declared that she’s practiced the part by herself with her mom.
While the acting and dancing portions of the audition are fun, Dantzler said for her, getting to know the kids is the highlight.
“The stories that they come up with. It’s really funny because kids have no filter so sometimes they just open right on up and you just never know what’s going to come out of their mouths,” Dantzler said.
When Paivi Farrell of Burnt Hills went to audition, she told Dantzler all about her spy-themed birthday party, which involved a scavenger hunt and lots of gummies. It made her open up a bit before Dantzler asked her if she wanted to act or dance.
“Waitress,” was inspired by Adrienne Shelley’s film, and created by an all-female creative team. It includes music by Sara Bareilles, a six-time Grammy nominee, a book by Jessie Nelson, and direction by Tony Award winner Dianne Paulus.
Tickets for the show start at $25 and are available at the box office at Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady, by phone at 518-346-6204 and online at proctors.org.