Sunday, January 14, 2001

CCM grad concentrates on auditions

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Aaron Lazar has already learned the secret of surviving in theater: “You can't plan, because it never turns out that way, be confident, and know that if they're looking for you, they're looking for you and that's it” and if they're not, they're not.

        As Scarlet Pimpernel star and former Cincinnatian Ron Bohmer says, in theater there are always 200 options, but so far Mr. Lazar has no complaints.

        When he graduated from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music with a master's degree in June, “I vowed to myself that I wanted to take jobs that would be career moves, not just to survive,” he says by phone from Denver, a recent stop on the Pimpernel tour. He is understudy to Mr. Bohmer.

        The New Jersey native had saved some money, his family had provided a little extra. “I took it upon myself to make as many contacts as I could, get my face out there.”

        He turned down leading roles at Chicago's famed North Shore Music Theatre (“where I'd been dying to work forever”) to spend the summer “making it my business to practice the art of auditioning.”

        He performed free in staged readings.

        He did day work on daytime soap operas and prime-time series, he performed in a small independent film.

        He hardly has made a dent in his savings.

        He auditioned, auditioned, auditioned.

        The day he auditioned for Pimpernel he also had a Les Miz work session, which for Mr. Lazar was "the big deal.”

        He figured the Pimpernel audition was just more practice because the director and musical director were auditioning potential understudies for the hero and he saw himself as the villain.

        He remembered CCM professor Aubrey Berg's advice: "Don't pigeonhole yourself into what you think, let them put you where they think.”

        They saw him as a good guy and offered him the role the same day.

        The ultimate goal is Broadway, but Mr. Lazar is planning a roundabout route. He'll head west when the Pimpernel tour ends to see what's what in film and television where classmate Randy Harrison is making a splash in Showtime's Queer as Folk.

        “It seems to me,” muses Mr. Lazar, "if you're a film or TV personality you can do what you want onstage.”

        But he wouldn't call it a plan.


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