JenSop: The Singing Travel Pro!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.

Audition in Amsterdam

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Audition in Amsterdam for Disneyland Paris.

Before I even left the States, I found out about auditions for Disneyland Paris happening the second weekend of February.  They were going to be looking for characters to perform in their parades and shows.  Being the Disney freak that I am, I knew I was going to audition!

There were going to be auditions in Amsterdam and Hamburg, and I ultimately decided to head to Amsterdam.  Not only was I hoping to be able to crash with the friend of a friend (fell through), but I also thought it would be really cool to see Amsterdam!

I went to the train station on the Wednesday before the weekend to reserve my overnight spots.  I have a Global Rail Pass, which gives me free access to all trains all over Europe, BUT you have to make a reservation and pay a fee to use an overnight train.
I was a bit thrown off, as last year, all the overnight trains I took were a flat 5 Euro fee.  So that’s what I was expecting this time as well.  Apparently prices went up.  I eventually found out that prices went up – especially going north.  (Going south and a few other places was still 5 Euro, or so I was told.  Hopefully that’s correct.)  So I had to pay 17 Euro for the overnight train at the beginning of the journey, and 27 Euro for the overnight out of Amsterdam, as the seats were sold out and I had to reserve a sleeper.

On Thursday, I finished getting ready by having my resume printed out at the local print shop, and getting all my stuff packed.  I also went to three different grocery stores trying desperately to find peanut butter so I could make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the road.  I guess Austrians don’t eat peanut butter, as I eventually had to give up.  (I will be happy when I get my care package from Kristen with girl scout cookies and peanut butter!)

After a nice phone chat with Miloš in the late afternoon/early evening, I was in a super happy mood and ready to take on the world!  My train was leaving out of the Westbahnhof, and I got there nice and early.  We left at 8pm for a long journey to Hannover.  During the ride, I had a few different compartment-mates.  One of which was a crazy old lady who yelled and hit some poor woman because her tiny little dog stepped on the old lady’s feet.  (That was one miserable, mean, crazy old lady.)

I did manage to get several hours of sleep, but they were broken up with lots of interruptions.  We got into Hannover around 6:20am.

In Hannover, I had no trouble finding the platform for the next leg of the journey.  There was still a good amount of time left to go.  That next leg would be 6:40am – 10:59am.  And that’s where you find me now – on the train by myself in first class (the global rail pass lets you sit in first class), looking out on lots and lots of snow covered fields and farmland.  And according to my free text message, I just entered the Netherlands.  (Whenever I enter a new country, Verizon’s partner provider sends me a free text message welcoming me to the country and telling me how much calls and texts cost.)  I’m hoping that the weather won’t be too bad in Amsterdam, as I have all day today to explore once I get there.  The audition is tomorrow morning, so I’ll be headed to bed nice and early so I can look and feel rested for the Disney peeps!

*******

Well, it’s approaching 7:00 in the evening, and I’m in my room for the night.

When I got in to Amsterdam, I took a tram to the area of my hotel, and finished with a short walk through part of Valden Park.  Fortunately, my room was ready and they let me check in early.  (While I was at the front desk, I got directions from the gentleman working there for how to get to the audition the next morning.)

Over fifteen hours in a train is more exhausting than you would think.  But I didn’t want to waste anytime, after briefly freshening up, I headed out the door.  But the clear blue skies I had just seen were now all cloudy and foreboding.  I grabbed an umbrella just in case.

I headed out with my handy map that I got at the front desk, with a desire for exploring this great new city!  (Well, it was new to me!)

My hotel was just outside the “central area” but still very close.  I walked through the park and within minutes was inside the ring of streets that marked the inner part of the city.  Some of my initial reactions? Holy bicycles Batman!  Miloš had warned me to watch out for the bikes, but I honestly had NO IDEA until I saw it with my own eyes.  Bikes everywhere.  People riding bikes everywhere, bikes parked everywhere, bikes, bikes, bikes.

The waterways along the streets gave the city real personality, and I imagine in warmer weather they would be even more lovely than they were now.

Within a few minutes of getting into the city center, it was snowing.  Then the snow picked up even more.  I kept on trucking!  My goal was to admire the architecture around the city and take in the different sties without having to spend any money!

After awhile, the snow cleared to sunny skies again, but the cold was piercing.  After two and a half hours of walking around in the cold, I decided to duck in to Starbucks to warm up with a latte and hook up to some free wifi!

After getting back on the street, the snow returned.  It came in quickly and with a vengeance.  Pretty soon it was like walking around in a blizzard – kind of uncomfortable to say the least.  I decided to grab an early dinner and got a big ol’ container of fried asian noodles with chicken and veggies, and took it back to my hotel.  I warmed up while eating, relaxed, took a hot bath in the big tub, and then turned in on the early side so I could be rested for the audition.

*******

I was up the next morning around 6am.  I got a shower and started to get ready.  However, I must not have been on my game when I was packing.  I forgot two CRUCIAL things for the trip.  My foundation and deodorant.  I apologize if this is TMI, but I inherited my father’s sweat genes.  Actually, almost everyone on that side of the family has the same problem.  So yeah, I sweat a lot.  I didn’t know what to do, so I sprayed my arm pits with hairspray.  (Couldn’t hurt, right?…….)  Then when going to do my make-up, I realized I forgot to pack my foundation.  I have a lot of acne scars on my face, and the foundation I use does a good job of really toning them down and making them less noticeable.  But I didn’t have it.  And I was going to an audition.  This was actually worse than the deodorant situation.  I decided to use my concealer all over my face as a sort of foundation.  It worked well enough.

I was out the door by 7:30am.  I grabbed the tram, and then switched to the Metro train.  When I got off at my stop, I wandered around aimlessly until I finally found the studio.  The whole area looked like an industrial park – there was NOTHING but warehouse looking buildings and a big Dell Computers building at the end of the block.  It was 8:30am when I arrived at the studio, and I had to be let in, as the doors were locked.  Apparently I was the first person to get there.  If this was NYC, getting to an open call at 8:30 would mean the possibility of not getting heard.  But here, it meant I was the first one in the building.

Here’s the long story short of the audition process….

There were almost 300 people there to audition.  We were all measured for height and given numbers attached to papers that we had to fill out.

We were then shown information about what it was like to work for Disneyland Paris.  Entertainment is the only division that does not require employees to speak French.

After the presentation, we were told that we were going to do the character part of the audition first.  So in groups of ten (in front of about 100 other auditionees each time), we had to use our imagination to:

-step forward for eight counts as a cowboy/cowgirl
-turn a full circe to the right for eight counts as a pirate
-act like one of the seven dwarves for eight counts
-step left for three beats, then take a villain pose, then repeat that to the right
-act like a prince or princess for eight counts
-exit in a “Disney way” for the last eight counts

You were responsible for coming up with your own interpretation of what that all meant. The casting director told us that there were 1000 different reasons as to why some people would get cut, and to please respect his decision.  Of course we don’t get any feedback, so you never know.  He did express concern when I signed in over the fact that I had an American passport and would need to get a French visa to be able to work there.  But who knows, maybe it was because my height was in between character categories.  (Disney is VERY strict with their height requirements.)  Whatever the reason, I didn’t make the cut, and I’ll never know why.

I went back to the waiting area and chilled a little.  Some of the people I had been talking to beforehand also got cut, so we all had a little snack together before deciding to head out and see Amsterdam together.  The one girl, Kayla, had her car and drove us all into the city center.  But again, the snow was back.  So we ducked into a bar to have a drink and chat for awhile.  We could see the snow coming down quite heavily, so we were in no rush to head back outside right away.

Once we did head back out, I got my stuff out of Kayla’s car and hung out with Annie and Dave in their hotel until I had to head back to the train station, as Kayla was off to spend time with some of her family members.

So right now, I’m in the train, in a sleeper car.  (There were only sleeper car spots available on this night train when I booked.  The rest of the train was full.)  It’s kind of cramped and uncomfortable in here.  I don’t really recommend it.  Imagine six narrow beds, three on each wall, with an awkward ladder along the window side to try to help you get up to your bunk.  And sharing my cabin are some men from Israel I believe.  We were eventually joined in our car by two more guys, who I think were both German.  Initially, I was a bit uncomfortable sharing a sleeping car with strange men, but they were all very respectful and polite.  I did manage to sleep some, but as usual, the train makes stops and there’s often noises – so sleep is always interrupted.  Given the choice, I’d still choose the sitting compartments for overnights, as those chairs recline, allowing one to still get some sleep – AND you can actually sit up when you’re not sleeping.

*****

After an 11 hour train ride, we got to Munich right on time, and I immediately found my next train that would take me to Vienna.  Just four more hours to go!  There was a sign on the door of the train saying that they had free wifi, but I couldn’t connect to it.  When I asked, the attendant said that the wifi kicked in once we got into Austria.  Yay!  This excites me more than it should perhaps, but after being on the train SO LONG, it will be nice to distract myself and also get some work done.  I can say this – it’s so nice to be in a newer first class train car – I have so much room!  And because it’s a Sunday morning train, it’s not crowded at all.  No business people, just me and what appears to be a few random rich people.

*****

Some overall thoughts…..

Was Amsterdam far to go for an audition?  Yea sure.  BUT – I have my Rail Pass that lets me go anywhere in Europe by train.  And as a result, I can see some pretty amazing places.  The world is full of potential adventures – we can either take them, or sit on our asses at home.  I might not have gotten the Disney gig, but I have another feather in my travel cap, AND I made some great new friends.  I meet some of the best people either when I’m on the road, or at auditions!  We never know why life takes us on the path that it does, but one thing’s for sure – we’re usually all the better for the chances we take!

Amsterdam Centraal Station

Amsterdam Centraal Station

Amsterdam: canals and bicycles

Amsterdam: canals and bicycles

statue and church

statue and church

along the canal

along the canal

Rembrandt

Rembrandt

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

me in Amsterdam!

me in Amsterdam!

Along the canal

Along the canal

Exploring Amsterdam

Exploring Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Snowing in Amsterdam

Snowing in Amsterdam

Vondel Park

Vondel Park

Amsterdam at night

Amsterdam at night

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Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And this year, I've started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm engaged to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

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