Yearlong Audition: Tricia Wiles tries to earn living through theater

Tricia Wiles singing for the “Croaker” original cast recording last Monday and Tuesday at Red Amp Audio. Photo Courtesy of Red amp Audio

Samantha Foster
Spectrum Editor

Despite working for Radio Disney Frequency in 2005, theater performance major Tricia Wiles considers her most recent project “Croaker” to be her first paid acting job. Wiles believes this opportunity puts her on track to her goal of supporting herself through theater.

“I’ve never had the goal of ‘I need my name in lights’ or ‘I need my own TV show’ or ‘I need everyone to know my name,’” Wiles said. “The goal has always been to just survive (with theater).”

Wiles started her work with “Croaker” in September, when a staged musical reading of the play was performed at the SPARC Center.

“Croaker” premiered in May 2012 with a cast of elementary and middle school children. In September, it was performed with adults, Wiles included, to see how the play would translate to an adult audience and to gain publicity for the “Croaker” Kickstarter page.

The cast earned enough funds to create a recording of the music from the show, which can now be packaged with the script and be sold to theater groups.

“For the concert version, they wanted to have adult voices, so they could see whether it would just be for kids,” Wiles said. “When you take adults doing a musical, because we have life experiences, we have a lot of different things that lean into it.”

Wiles and the other 10 members of “Croaker” began recording songs last week at Red Amp Audio, a local recording studio.

“It was a really cool experience because all I had to do was go in, be warmed up, adjust the volume that I wanted and just sing,” Wiles said.

The original cast recording will be used for future productions of the play, so that the cast can hear the original characteristics of the music. It is also useful for those who can’t read music, which is not always required of actors in musical theater. Wiles has used original cast recordings in the past for her own knowledge of the musical in its original form.

“Whenever I go into a musical, I always get the original cast recording, just to know what I’m up against,” she said.

While the recording was the final stage of the “Croaker” project, Wiles will be in the recording studio again on Monday to help the original children’s cast record a bonus track for the album.

“It’s a really cool experience and it’s really exciting to be a part of something like this because who knows where it is going to go,” Wiles said. “‘Croaker’ is my first paying college job … which is really exciting for me.”

The “Croaker” project also functioned as an opportunity for Wiles to make connections in the Richmond theater community, which is especially important for someone new to the community and who may remain in the city even after graduation.

While Wiles’ goal is to make a living in the world of theater, she is realistic about what jobs it may lead her to.

“My goal in life is to survive off of performing or being a part of the theater world, whether that means…doing original cast recordings or working on the disney cruise line…,” Wiles said. “I know that’s not a realistic goal, so I’m OK with working in a theater office. That would be just as fun.”

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