On June 29, I attended The Ultimate Music Theatre Audition Workshop, presented by Stage Door Access. This was a pre-conference workshop that I was grateful to have been paid for by Cardinal Stritch University (as well as the registration fee for the conference itself).
I got some interesting information, both from the written handouts and from the audition master class, which I’ll summarize here:
- Should look like you
- Use natural makeup and lighting
- You can show more than just your head
- COLOR – no more B&W
- Be age appropriate
- Don’t include your home address or social security number (really? who’d put that on a resume?)
- Make sure the overall formatting is clear
- Don’t include years
- Put role credits before ensemble credits
- List credits in appropriate categories
- Format the training section clearly
- Be clear and conside
THE SONG AUDITION
- Do your homework. What’s the style of the show? How should you look?
- If your song is angsty, find a moment of lightness. Don’t be monochromatic.
- Less is more in terms of movement. Find more stillness.
- Work the song as a monologue, not just as a poem.
- A great audition is something that is watchable.
- Bring a piece that can be played by the accompanist. If it’s too hard, bring your own accompanist or bring a different piece. [As I’ve said, if I can’t fake my way through it, don’t bring it!]
- Be very clear in conveying tempo to the pianist before beginning. Do not clap, snap or tap it!
- Take charge of your audition!
- If you say something more than once, find a different motivation the 2nd time.
- It’s not attitude – it’s specificity. Deal with every moment in the song.
- Earnestness is a turn-off. Find the line between earnestness and immediacy.
- Text should follow the musical direction.
- Be present in the room – be aware and energized! (This is not the same as earnest and overeager.)
- Don’t state your name or the name of your song. We already have it.
- Leave when you’re done – let them call you back if they want more. Don’t hang around and wait. It’s awkward.
THE DANCE AUDITION
- Get out of your head.
- The audition is less about the steps and more about conveying the energy and expressing what you have to express.
- Are you willing? That carries a lot more weight than whether or not you can dance. Show that you are willing to try.
- Have both legit and belt pieces available.
- Three ring binder with your music in non-glare sheet protectors
Do NOT bring anthologies! [This is a total violation of copyright law!]
- This is much more casual than it used to be. Wear what you’d wear to a brunch where you’re going to meet your future in-laws.
- Be appropriate to style – contemporary shows demand contemporary wear.
- Don’t wear costumes – but do suggest the character.
- Don’t wear loose baggy clothes – let the clothes reveal your body. (But not too much!)
- Make sure that you can move in your clothes and that they aren’t distracting.
- The creative team is behind the table. Know who they are. Know what they do.
- Befriend casting directors – go to auditions, workshops, industry functions.
- Make friends with the room monitor.
- Treat the accompanist professionally.
- Keep an audition journal – know who is behind the table, record the feedback, the total experience.
- Treat the audition like an interview. When it’s over, let go.
- The purpose of the audition should be to show yourself in your entirety and to match you to a role.
- The panel wants you to be good as much as you want to be good.
- Musical theater performers must have good musical chops and be able to learn music quickly.
- Make the piece appropriate to the audition.
- Have a flexible voice. Be able to approach a phrase in a variety of ways – belt, mix, head
- Some songs people are sick of because they’re good audition songs. That’s why they’re so frequently done.
- “Don’t sing Sondheim” – baloney. Some Sondheim is too hard to play, some is not. [See difficulty, above.] Some are not melodic. Some are.
- Signature songs – individuality is important. If you can sing “Don’t rain on my parade” without doing a Barbra Streisand impression [or a Lea Michelle impression of a Barbra Streisand impression], then do it.
- Don’t look overeager or crazy.
- It’s important to have an agent in NYC. Have the right agent for where you are in your career.