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   April 14 , 2006

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Fifth Great Year for DC Equity Auditions

By Gregory Gorton

For the fifth consecutive year, the Washington/Baltimore Equity Liaison Committee has presented the Equity only auditions. They were held on January 9 and 10, 2006 at The Olney Theatre Center in Olney, Maryland.

The traditional symbol for a fifth anniversary is wood, and the boards of Olney's Gudelsky Theatre were home to some outstanding examples of the rich and diverse depth of talent in the Washington area.

The auditions have averaged 175 participants over the past four years and the popularity of the auditions continues to grow.

The number of auditors attending the auditions has increased as well, with this year's total of 36 the highest we have had, representing theatres from as far away as Pittsburgh, Richmond and Kent, Ohio. Many participating auditors have been coming since the inaugural year of the auditions, including Derek Davidson of Barter Theatre in Abington, Virginia. Harry Winter, representing Signature Theatre, was greatly impressed. " I thought that the level of professionalism displayed by local actors was the highest I have seen in 28 years or so. I was extremely proud of both performers and organizers."

The Washington Stage Guild is another of the charter members attending. Representing the Stage Guild, Bill Largess said, " I've always found the Olney auditions to be a great way to see people at their best. The relaxed, professional atmosphere seems to inspire a degree of calm and confidence in the actors, and that, of course, is an advantage both for them---they tend to do their best work---and for the auditors, who can get a truer sense of the actor's strengths and personalities. As for the talent, it seems to get stronger every year, and this year I was especially pleased by the number of familiar faces who made strong impressions by showing us something new. As this event has become an expected part of the theatre casting season, it's allowed savvy actors to come back and display their range as they get to be seen by newcomers to town as well.

Donielle Juenker of NETWorks, a newcomer to the auditions, was pleased with her visit. " The auditions were well organized and a pleasure to attend. There is a wealth of talent in this area and I think it was represented well."

Round House Theatre, which has been coming to the auditions since the beginning, has recently had a change in Artistic Directors. After many award- winning years at the helm, Jerry Whiddon has turned over the position to Blake Robison. Blake, as the new Producing Artistic Director, was more than happy to attend. " As the new guy in town", he said, " it was my first time attending the Equity auditions at Olney. Not only were they well organized and hospitable, they provided me with a great opportunity to see the region's professional actors in one place. The level of talent and diversity was remarkable, and the timing is optimal, since we are just beginning to make decisions about next year's season at Round House."

One of the hallmarks of the DC area auditions is the professional setting provided for both the actors participating and the auditors who are watching. Plans will soon be under way for the 2007 round of Equity auditions for the Washington/Baltimore region. See you then!

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