My purpose was to re-enter San Diego’s theater (specifically musical theater) community. It was at the end of of a successful 26 years as a performer with San Diego Opera, and even though I have been a member of Actor’s Equity since 1972, I was aware that I was in need of re-education and re-branding to be competitive in San Diego’s current theater world. Cris was a perfect choice for my goals.
First of all, he knows theater from every angle. As a performer, an audition and rehearsal pianist, and a director himself, he has participated in scores of auditions. He knows what the various directors and companies are looking for, and he also knows the frustrations of a performer in the nerve-wracking audition process. As one who has had to brand himself with proper photos and resumes, as well as seeing them from the production side, he is the perfect person to advise a student in that process. It goes without saying that his advice for choosing good audition songs, appropriate for you, is a special advantage that he has. His skills as a pianist are impeccable. He has a vast knowledge of repertoire, especially suggesting what is appropriate for the current musical theater scene. He also has much of the music at hand with his files; also, he has files filled with appropriate monologue suggestions.
Cris considers the student and judges his or her, “type” and suggests material accordingly. Even if he differs from your opinion of how you view yourself, his opinion should be considered, because of his experience in the production and therefore hiring end of the business. He is very energetic and challenges you, so that you will do your best to prepare and stretch your skills as a performer. His goal is for you to get work as soon as possible. I feel that he was encouraging of me, while challenging of me to do my best.
Finally, although I had to suspend my efforts in auditioning for a while, I still sense an interest in me as a person, not just a paying customer. Ironically, circumstances have led me to change my performing goals and re-enter the world of cabaret performance. Guess who is a major presence in that field in San Diego - that’s right - Cris O’Byon! I hope to be working with him again soon.