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Auditioning: I Really Need This Job!

Casting directors from film, theatre, TV, and commercials tell you how to improve your audition skills and get your big break in all four areas. Moderated by Back Stage columns and reviews editor Erik Haagensen.

Speakers include:

* Barbara McNamara, casting director, Barbara McNamara Casting
* Billy Hopkins, casting director, Christie Street Casting
* Elizabeth Lucas, theater and film director
* Lonnie Price, stage director
* Marc Hirschfeld, casting director, NBC
* Tony Pichette, commercial casting director, Jodi Kipperman Casting


Barbara McNamara, casting director, Barbara McNamara Casting

Barbara McNamara is president of Barbara McNamara Casting, LLC, based in New York City. She and her team cast thousands of actors for background and principal roles every year in many successful television shows, movies and commercials all around the world. Her list of credits include movies such as "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Duplicity," television shows including "30 Rock" and "Rescue Me," and commercials for clients including Dolce & Gabbana and Nokia.

Barbara's previous experience includes background casting for Seasons 5 and 6 of "Sex and the City" and the producer and director of programming for "Wedding Spectacular." Holding several degrees in fashion and marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, she has also directed and produced high-end fashion shows and has done wardrobe styling for well-known advertising campaigns.

Billy Hopkins, casting director, Christie Street Casting
Billy Hopkins has cast hundreds of films starting with Susan Seidelman's "Desperately Seeking Susan" through Lee Daniel's upcoming release "Precious," a film based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire that won the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, which opens this fall. In New York, he has cast numerous plays both on and Off-Broadway, most recently the Summer Shorts Festival at 59E59 Theater. For television, he cast the classic series "Roseanne" and received Emmy nominations for both "Sex and the City" and "The Bronx Is Burning."

Elizabeth Lucas, director
Elizabeth Lucas made her feature directing debut with three feature-length genre movies about New York City: her rock movie musical "Clear Blue Tuesday," her slasher flick "Red Hook," and her sci-fi "Fade to White." She's also made three shorts, including the multi-award-winning "Isabella Rico," which appeared in 33 festivals worldwide and won Best Director and Special Achievement awards. A long-time stage director and a New York Musical Theatre Festival Founding Producer, Elizabeth has premiered a number of new musicals and directs regionally. Visit for more information.

Lonny Price, director
Lonny Price just finished shooting his first feature film, "Master Harold... and the boys," starring Freddie Highmore and Ving Rhames. He directed Gabriel Byrne in the PBS "Live from Lincoln Center" broadcast of "Camelot," also starring Christopher Lloyd, Stacy Keach and Fran Drescher. For "Great Performances, he directed Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" starring Kristin Chenoweth and Patti LuPone, as well as Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" with Ms. LuPone and George Hearn, for which he won the Emmy. His production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's "Passion" starring Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald and Michael Cerveris, won an Emmy as well.

Other television credits include his filming of the acclaimed Broadway revival of "Company," for which he received an Emmy nomination. On Broadway, Lonny directed Audra McDonald in "110 in the Shade" for the Roundabout Theatre Company; Danny Glover in Athol Fugard's "Master Harold... and the boys"; Joan Rivers in "Sally Marr and Her Escorts," which he co-wrote with Ms. Rivers and Erin Sanders; Jenn Colella in "Urban Cowboy"; and himself in "A Class Act," for which he co-wrote the book with Linda Kline and was nominated for a Tony Award.

Favorites among his off-Broadway work include "Visiting Mr. Green" starring Eli Wallach, Jules Feiffer's "Grown Ups," and Mary Pat Gleason's "Stopping Traffic" for the Vineyard Theatre. He made his opera directing debut at the Houston Grand Opera directing Audra McDonald in Pulenc's "La Voix Humaine" and Michael John LaChiusa's "Send."

Marc Hirschfeld, casting director, Marc Hirschfeld Casting

Emmy Award-winner Marc Hirschfeld was appointed executive vice president for casting at NBC Universal Television Entertainment in June 1999, and served in that capacity through December 2008. During his tenure he was responsible for overseeing casting for all NBC Entertainment, ScyFy, Bravo and USA Network scripted programs.

Most recently, Hirschfeld has overseen the original casting of such NBC series as the Emmy-winning series "The Office," "30 Rock," "Heroes," "My Name Is Earl," "Friday Night Lights," and "Southland," among others. On the cable side, he supervised the casting of USA Network hits "Psych," "Burn Notice," "In Plain Sight," "Starter Wife," and USA's latest hit "Royal Pains." At ScyFy Network, he shepherded the original casting of "Eureka," "Warehouse 13," and the upcoming "Battlestar Galactica" prequel "Caprica."

Hirschfeld received multiple Emmy nominations for casting the NBC comedy series "Seinfeld." In 1998, he won the Emmy for Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries or a Movie for his work on "From the Earth to the Moon." Hirschfeld has been recognized by his peers in the Casting Society of America with more than 30 nominations and six Artios Award wins; he became the recipient of the CSA's highest honor, the Hoyt Bowers Award in recognition of his body of work. Since his departure from NBC Universal, Hirschfeld has returned to his casting roots and cast three pilots during 2009. He is a graduate of Syracuse University.

Tony Pichette, casting director, Jodi Kipperman Casting
Tony Pichette is a casting director at one of New York's premiere commercial casting offices, Kipperman Casting. Prior to his position there, he worked in the commercial department of Paradigm, a bicoastal talent agency. He concentrates on all types of commercial work from on-camera to voiceovers and industrials.

He has cast many large commercial campaigns seen daily on national television ranging from Coke, Capri Sun, Kraft Singles, MTV2 (Rockband), Nintendo Wii, Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, Six Flags and many, many more. His office also supports the in-house casting departments at networks such as MTV, Nickelodeon ("Blues Clues"), Sci-Fi, Food Network and Spike, for various projects.


Erik Haagensen, columns editor, reviews editor, Back Stage
Erik Haagensen is Back Stage's columns editor and New York reviews editor. As a journalist and theatre historian, he has written for Back Stage, Show Music Magazine, the Seattle Review, the Kurt Weill Newsletter, and the Dramatists Guild Newsletter. Haagensen is also a Richard Rodgers Award–winning playwright-lyricist whose musicals include "Summer," "A Fine and Private Place," "Taking a Chance on Love: The Lyrics and Life of John Latouche," "How It Was Done in Odessa," and "O. Henry Duet," which have been seen Off-Broadway; regionally at such venues as the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Goodspeed Musicals, the Walnut Street Theatre, and the American Stage Company; and in the U.K.

Erik reconstructed Alan Jay Lerner and Leonard Bernstein's original pre-Broadway version of their 1976 musical "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," and then directed it in a production by Indiana University Opera Theatre that was presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to critical acclaim. Haagensen revised and adapted the Jule Styne–E.Y. Harburg–Nunnally Johnson musical "Darling of the Day" for York Theatre Company's Musicals in Mufti concert reading series. Time magazine named it one of the 10 best shows of 2005, and the show subsequently had a well-received fully staged production at Light Opera Works in Chicago.

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