Singer Mugrage hopes for second Broadway callback

By Trish Yerges, Observer Correspondent October 26, 2012 02:39 pm

Singer/songwriter Rick Mugrage of Elgin is hoping for a callback after a promising Broadway audition.

UNION - Local singer/songwriter Rick Mugrage returned from a promising Broadway audition in New York City for a role in the hit musical “Once” and is waiting for notification from the casting director as to his future with the show.

Mugrage arrived in Manhattan Oct. 13 and met up with Friends of the Elgin Opera House Artistic Director Terry Hale.  

The two attended a couple of Broadway shows Saturday, including a performance of the Tony-award winning “Once” by Glen Hansard. 

 Mugrage was the third scheduled audition the following morning. Auditions for the 14-member cast of “Once” were each about 15 minutes long, and the judges were going to be busy hearing at least 20 auditions until 4 p.m. that day. 

 Mugrage said he arrived about 45 minutes before his 11:15 a.m. audition. 

The judges were not there yet, but there were two musicians who had auditions ahead of him waiting in the hallway outside the audition suite. They were doing some last-minute tuning of their guitars.

“Both of these other guys were auditioning for Andre, a minor role different from mine,” said Mugrage. 

“They were both professional actors and both were with talent agencies. These guys had friends who were in the show right now on Broadway. So they heard about it from their friends.”

Mugrage said that the other guys were on their second callback in the audition process whereas Mugrage was responding to his first callback. 

“So, as far as I know, I could have been right in the middle somewhere of the auditioning process,” said Mugrage. He did hear the two first musicians auditioning before him as he stood outside the room.

“They were loud enough with the hardwood floors in the room to hear them through the closed door, but I couldn’t afford to pay too much attention to them,” said Mugrage. 

“I was trying to get all geared up and ready to go, so it was hard to focus on them when I was trying to get ready myself.”

Mugrage accompanied himself on guitar and performed two verses and choruses from the song “Low Rising” composed by Glen Hansard. 

Since the musical “Once” is an ensemble, all those auditioning had to come prepared to sing and play an instrument.

“Auditioning is always hard, no matter if it’s for the Opera House or a college play, because you’re baring your soul out there...”

—Rick Mugrage

The judging panel was composed of three men, and the head casting director was Stephen Kopel. Mugrage said that Kopel seemed to like his singing audition and then asked him to perform a scripted reading from “Once.”

“I read sides (script excerpts) from a scene,” said Mugrage. “The other guys read the other lines from the scene, and I read the character I was auditioning for. I had memorized my lines, which I think surprised them a bit. The only thing was I wasn’t exactly sure if I was supposed to perform to the judging panel or to the other readers.”

Due to some nervousness, Mugrage said his audition seemed to pass by quickly, and before he knew it, the next musician was invited to audition.

Mugrage said he went over his own audition in his mind, picking it apart and wondering what he could have done differently. 

He was confident and pleased with his singing performance.

He said it was intimidating, knowing he was standing in front of one of the most powerful casting directors on Broadway.

“Auditioning is always hard, no matter if it’s for the Opera House or a college play, because you’re baring your soul out there, and you’re not super comfortable yet with the material. 

“You’re kind of winging it, so it’s really tough,” Mugrage said.

Though it was hard for Mugrage to gauge the impression he left on the judges, he was pleased at what Kopel said.

“Kopel did say, ‘That sounded really good, man,’ when I got done playing,” said Mugrage. 

“So that was nice that I got that feedback. After the sides, he said, ‘Thanks for coming in.’ 

“That’s how auditions are. I don’t think the judges are going to act one way or another. 

“It was super, super tough to know.”

Mugrage said that future callbacks will be made soon, and that he’s waiting again for notification.

“I hope to get a callback this week,” said Mugrage. 

“It’s really killing me (to wait). I felt really good about my song. It sounded really good, and I played good, too. 

“I didn’t feel super strong about my sides, but I’m hoping (the casting director) will see my resume and give me another shot.”

If he gets another callback, Mugrage will be returning to Manhattan for further auditioning. 

If not, he will keep watching for his next opportunity to audition for another production. 

That’s show business.