I was at a conference last week and was seated next to a school that was giving away buttons. The buttons read, “Will act for food.” Everybody wanted one of these buttons.
The gimmick was that, in order to get a button, you had to either sing a song or perform a monologue. I saw a metric tonne of monologues and heard twice as many songs over the course of the weekend. Did I mention that everybody wanted these buttons?
I sort of ignored the singing and acting at first, but then I started paying attention, and then I started noticing patterns. Here are a couple of comments/tips/observations that applied to 99.5% of the performances I saw.
Slow. Down. Every single monologue was performed at breakneck speed. Follow the punctuation. Commas are pauses, periods are full stops.
Focus on telling a story and clearly communicating the journey of your character. Draw the audience in with clarity. Find beats, find pauses, find changes in tone/pace/attitude. If you can’t find places in the monologue where tone/pace/attitude changes, then you need to find another monologue.
The “Broadway” recording is probably what attracted you to the song, but you need to forget what you’ve heard.
Prepare a song the exact same way you prepare a monologue – from the point of a character and their journey. Focus on travelling through the journey of the song from your own perspective. The interpretation on the recording is what worked for that actor, and for that actor’s interpretation. It’s neither the definitive interpretation, nor is it how you should interpret the song. Perform the song with your own unique voice and perspective.