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THE ARTIST’S JOURNEY – Lauren Elder of SIDE SHOW - La Jolla Playhouse Blog

THE ARTIST’S JOURNEY – Lauren Elder of SIDE SHOW

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THE ARTIST’S JOURNEY provides an insider look at the creation of a La Jolla Playhouse production, through the eyes of one of the show’s cast, crew or creative team.

Lauren Elder is an ensemble cast member of our upcoming, re-imagined musical Side Show, helmed by Academy Award-winning director Bill Condon.  As part of the ensemble, Lauren, who is making her Playhouse debut, will be playing various roles: Venus di Milo, Spectator, Party Guest, Cherub and  Townie.  In this series of guest blogs, she’ll be sharing her experiences working on this much-anticipated show, which kicks off performances on November 5!

By Lauren Elder

In early spring of this year, I received a call from Laura Stanczyk, a casting director and producer in New York City, asking if I would be willing to take a very unique job.  I wouldn’t be auditioning, but she wanted me to come and sing with all of the girls trying out for the roles of twins Daisy and Violet Hilton in the upcoming production of Side Show at La Jolla Playhouse. I quickly accepted the offer, being a longtime fan of the original Broadway version.

She sent me the new script and a couple of new songs to learn, and the next week I was in the room with the entire creative team (which included director Bill Condon, composer Henry Krieger, lyricist Bill Russell and choreographer Anthony Van Laast, all wizards in their respective crafts) and singing with some of Broadway’s brightest stars. I also got to read audition scenes with everyone who tried out.  I wasn’t up for a part in the show, but it was such an incredible learning experience, and I felt so lucky to be in that room, helping them find their perfect cast. During the last week of auditions, Laura pulled me aside and said that the Side Show team was considering me for a role and wondered if I’d mind coming in to audition for them. I was overjoyed and accepted immediately!

And wouldn’t you know: they cast me!

Fast forward a few months.  The show is fully cast, and we are all asked to do a reading of the revised script in NYC before heading to La Jolla. It was so exciting to finally be all together and to start becoming friends with the people whose auditions I got to be a part of. The reading was amazing, with people singing along with songs that they knew and our musical director Greg Jarett and Henry Krieger singing the rest.  What a treat!

We moved into our apartments in La Jolla in late September and started rehearsal the next day.  We began with music. This is a very music-heavy show, so in order to do the scene work, we needed to be comfortable with the songs.  Within three days, we had learned the entire score and were doing a complete read- and sing-through.  Staging and choreography started the next day.

It was clear right away that our creative team looked at us as equals.  This is not often the case.  They want to hear our opinions and are open to changes that serve the story and show.  Since this is a re-imagining of the show, there are many changes being made.  Almost every day we get new pages for our scripts and scores. Sometimes we come in and find that an entire song has changed, but it’s so exciting to be a part of such a dynamic creative process.

We’ve staged the entire show now, though things are still being tweaked almost every day.  We’re working in a rehearsal space with minimal set and costumes, but in a few weeks we’ll be in the theatre and things will most likely continue to change once we get to play with our amazingly intricate outfits and the set. And I’ll be posting here to keep you in the loop about what it’s like to be a part of this amazing journey, so check back next week for more!

Lauren Elder has performed in Hair (Broadway, West End, Shakespeare in the Park/NY Public Theater) and As You Like It (Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival), and has also appeared in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. She performs regularly in nightclubs around New York City, including Joe’s Pub, Birdland, 54 Below and Jazz at Lincoln Center. She recently recorded her debut album of original music. Hear it and learn more at www.lauren-elder.com.

From left to right: SIDE SHOW's Lauren Elder with cast mates Brandon Bieber, Javier Ignacio, Hannah Shankman and Zonya Love heading to their first day of rehearsal at the Playhouse in September 2013.