How Creating My Own Work Got Me to Carnegie Hall

Larsen outside Carnegie Hall before her performance

Like most overeducated singers, I was taught only one clear path to success: practice, go to auditions, book a job, and be amazing.

In theory, this process works. The problem is, it didn’t work for me. And I didn’t have a Plan B.

I’ve been to hundreds of singing auditions (probably more like thousands, actually). I’ve booked less than fifteen jobs from these auditions. The odds aren’t good.

I did all the things you’re supposed to do—I waited hours and hours at countless open calls, I wore the perfect outfit, and I had the perfect music to sing. I took every audition workshop and class that exists in New York City. I spent thousands of dollars learning “how to audition.” I paid casting directors to listen to me. I figured out how to calm my nerves. Alas, somehow, me and auditions don’t vibe. I just don’t book the work through auditions. To this day, I still don’t know why.

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Ten years ago, I was busy auditioning and not booking work and I got fed up. My creative energies were about to burst. I had always written “shows.” I use the term “shows” loosely, because what I wrote were little skits and concerts that my younger sisters and I performed for our parents.

So here I was, nearly 20 years later, in New York City with a Masters Degree in Opera and no one was hiring me. So I decided to create my own “shows” once more. After all, I had been writing “patter” and set lists since I was ten years old. My best friend (who happens to be a pianist) and I started creating a cabaret show. I rode the bus to his apartment in Jersey City and we put together medleys and mashups. I wrote the script and set list on my lunch break. I went to the fashion district and bought feathers and a boa. I made myself a feather hat with a hot glue gun. I memorized and practiced patter alone in my Brooklyn bedroom.

The opening night at Don’t Tell Mama in Times Square was completely sold out. All my coworkers from my office job came and brought friends. My mom and her best friend flew in from Florida. It was the scariest thing I had ever done. It was also the best. I walked off that stage invincible. High. I had performed a solid 65-minute show by myself and people liked it. They really liked it.

Larsen backstage at Carnegie Hall

It’s been nearly ten years since the debut of my first cabaret show. That show ignited my career and ultimately led to:
1. Traveling the world as a solo headline artist on all major cruise lines.
2. Winning the MetroStar Cabaret Competition in NYC.
3. Having my show directed by a musical legend and icon, Marilyn Maye.
4. Performing all over the country in music/cabaret festivals.
5. Singing at Carnegie Hall!

The Carnegie Hall Show was billed as “performances by established and new artists from the world of cabaret.” I didn’t audition (in the traditional sense). I did my own thing, wrote my own show, performed my own show, followed my own path…and it led me to Carnegie Hall.

What work have you created for yourself?

Do you want to create your own work but don’t know how?
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I believe in you. Minda


Minda Larsen

Minda Larsen is an actor, singer and voice teacher in New York City with nearly 20 years experience as a professional singer and actor. Most recently, she has appeared in Gotham (FOX) and The Deuce (HBO). Minda has sung with the New York Philharmonic (Carousel) and performed her original cabaret shows as a headliner on all major cruise lines, traveling to over 80 countries. Minda’s voice students can be seen on Broadway (Frozen, A Bronx Tale, Harry Potter, The Ferryman) and in numerous off-Broadway productions. She is passionate about working with students not just on technique, but the healthy pursuit of a career in the arts. Minda holds a Master’s Degree in vocal performance (classical voice) from the Manhattan School of Music. @mindalarsen on Instagram