It’s the time of the year again- Christmas in July! It seems strange to start thinking about Christmas when it’s a million degrees out, but in theme park world, you prepare for the holidays early.
One of the signature Disney holiday events is the Candlelight Processional. The event started in Disneyland in 1958 and came to Magic Kingdom in 1971, but it moved to the American Adventures pavillion in Epcot in 1994 and has stayed there ever since. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a thirty minute concert that features a celebrity narrator telling the nativity story, interspersed with a choir comprised of cast members and local high school choruses singing Christmas songs. It’s a wonderful event to watch, and I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the cast member choir for two years now (technically three, but I had to drop out my first year because I didn’t have a car!)
Previously the cast choir was selected by just signing up- so as you can imagine, it was a mad rush to sign up for the limited spots! They tried for a year or two to use a lottery, but that was wildly unpopular. Everyone would sign up, and then the final choir was drawn at random. Definitely not a good time. Starting in 2013, they moved to an evaluation system. It’s not a formal audition- no headshot, no resume, no 16 to 32 bar cut of a song showing off your voice- but it’s an effective way for the clinician to evaluate those who want to be part of the choir.
You can sign up online for one of the many audition sessions- but sorry, folks, if you’re not a cast member you’re not eligible. It’s only open to current and retired Disney cast members. It’s held at one of the backstage buildings, and you should be wearing your cast member nametag (if you forget, they have sticker nametags use can use). Once you’ve signed in, you wait for your selection process to begin. I brought a book with me, which turned out to be a great choice. I also had headphones, which worked nicely. They provide MP3 files of the music selection, both for a group and for your specific vocal part, as well as sheet music, so I used the piano app on my phone to play through the trickiest part of my selection and get it ingrained in my head.
At the beginning of the selection session there’s introductions of the clinicians, some announcements, and a warmup. The warmup was super helpful- auditions of any kind, no matter how laid back, make me nervous! They also ran through everyone’s vocal parts individually to give everyone a chance to hear their part. Then they started calling people back.
In previous years, they’ve offered several options for song selections, all songs from Candlelight with the cuts already marked. This year everyone sang the same song. I came in, introduced myself, and the clinician told me to start whenever I was ready. I did fine for the first part, but I also struggle with finding the second soprano notes in the second part of that particular song! The clinician gave me some advice and let me try the second half a second time, then gave me a few more tips and sent me on my way. Easy as that!
Now I’m just waiting to hear back about whether I made the cast choir- they gave us a date when emails should be going out, so I’m hoping for good news! The evaluation scoring process itself is a mystery, but basically they’re looking for personality, energy, and if you can pleasantly carry a tune in a bucket. Now I just have to wait! I’ll probably post on Instagram first if I get chosen, so feel free to follow me (themetaphorgirl) there too. I’m also going to post a video about what I carry in my audition bag, since I’ve done three auditions in the past month and I’m about to do a fourth one this weekend! Subscribe to my youtube (themetaphorgirl) if you’d like to see it, and comment below if you have questions about Candlelight or auditions in general!