Neighbor: Summer sounds

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 3, 2000

of music for Tori Lee


Features Editor

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Nov. 2, 2000 10 PM

Tori Lee knows what it’s like to answer the cattle call. She knows what it’s like to be herded, along with 800 others, before 200 "judges," She knows what its like to have 90 seconds "to showcase everything you’ve got."

Tori knows what it’s like to wait nervously in hopes of a call-back. And, she knows the rewards of the process.

Tori was one of 800 college-age hopefuls who auditioned at the Southeastern Theater Conference in Norfolk, Va. last spring. She, along with the others, dreamed of being picked as a cast or crew member for one of the 200 theater companies there looking to hire performers and crew members for summer stock and full-time theater positions.

Tori had auditioned on the state level and was included in the 50 percent who were passed on from the state screening level to the regional level in Norfolk.

"Every state has a screening audition and Troy State is a member of the Alabama Conference of Theater and Speech, which conducts the screenings,"

the Troy State University graduate said. "I wanted the experience of summer stock and I hoped I could showcase enough talent

to get called back by one of the companies."

Tori auditioned with both singing and acting and she got call-backs for interviews.

During an interview with the Lake Region Summer Theater of Meredith, New Hampshire, Tori was questioned about her resume.

"They saw I had done a lot of different things at Troy State," she said. "I played piano and danced and I also directed music for summer shows. When they saw I had experience in directing musicals, they got together and conferred."

What came out of that "conference" was an offer that took Tori completely by surprise.

"They needed another music director for their summer theater and they asked me if I was interested," Tori said. "I had auditioned as a performer and I could go as a performer or as a music director. I had to go home and think about it."

Tori decided teaching music all summer would be good experience and would certainly benefit her as she pursues a career in music education.

Tori took the job as a music director for Lake Region Summer Theater and embarked on the most difficult thing she has ever done in her life.

As music director, it was Tori’s job to teach the music to all the performers and to accompany them during rehearsal.

"Usually, it’s a music director’s job to conduct the orchestra, but we didn’t have an orchestra," she said. "We had a pit ensemble with two pianos and a drum."

Only having three instruments to "conduct" instead of an entire orchestra seemed like a bit of a reprieve. However, Tori had to program the digital pianos to sound like all the orchestral instruments in the musical score.

"Thank goodness, the other music director knew much more about programming digital pianos than I did," Tori said, laughing. "But that was a very difficult part of my job."

But, it was not the hardest part.

"The hardest part was learning the entire score to a show in 12 days," Tori said. "At Troy State we usually had three months to prepare for a big musical. But not at the Lake Region Summer Theater."

Tori said the Lake Region of New Hampshire is a laid-back tourist section. People go there to relax, eat out, go sailing and enjoy the beautiful scenery and the theater.

Therefore, the theater presented six shows during the course of the summer because the same crowd came over and over.

"We would preform one show for 12 days and, while we were performing it, we would be rehearsing the next show," Tori said. "It really kept us on our toes."

The Lake Region Summer Theater presented, The 1940s Radio Hour, South Pacific, Hello, Dolly, Singing in the Rain, Fiddler on the Roof

and Annie Warbucks.

"And, they were full-scale productions," Tori said.

"Being the music director for the summer theater was the most difficult work I have ever done, but it taught me the most valuable lessons I have ever learned. Working with different people from all over the country and working with so many different levels of talent and not knowing any of them before we started really prepared me for the classroom," Tori said.

The summer job mirrored the profession she has chosen. As a teacher she will have different students each year with different talents and abilities. She hopes that, as a teacher, she will be able to use the experience of her summer in New Hampshire to pull her students together and have them working at 100 percent all the time.

"When you have that kind of commitment and dedication, you can do some unbelievable things," Tori said. "It was an unbelievable summer."

And, if she has the opportunity, she will do it again. Tori will participate in the state screening audition for the Alabama Conference of Theater and Speech in Auburn next week hoping to move on to regionals and then to another exciting summer in the theater.