Q – I have been auditioning for musical theatre roles in New York City and have not had any luck. What’s the best way to approach auditioning in the theatre world?
– Anne Medesto – NYC
A – Like all advice on such subjective things as judging talent, there are many contradictions. Most casting personnel in the musical theatre world would rather judge your appropriateness for the part than your talent and/or skill level. That said, even if you’re not right for the part it helps to show them some range so that they might consider you for other roles. Here is a list of tips that should give you something to shoot for.
1. Show your best side first. Leave your eccentric pieces for when they ask to hear something off the beaten path. If you are performing two pieces in the audition always put your strongest piece first. First impressions in such short time spans are extremely important.
2. Song choice is key. Pick songs that showcase your best assets as a singer/performer.
3. Don’t choose for melody, choose for words. This will allow you to focus more on communication than on vocal stylings. When you’re preparing for an audition, practice the words as a monologue, then add the music. This way you’ll be really connected to the story you’re telling.
4. Go for it. Don’t play it too safe. Let the judges/casting crew reel you in. This is another reason for picking material that is well-suited for your voice and why skill level is such an important factor.
5. No extraneous body movements. Don’t get carried away with all of the hand gestures and body motion. This will distract from your face and your genuine energy. Be more in the emotion of the song than in outward presentation.
6. Take a breath. Don’t be stiff. Take your time, take your turn. Enjoy the moment. You’re singing on a stage in front of people. This is what you want, right? If you’re in a big rush to just get it over with, then that is what will happen.
7. Get close to panelist/judges/casting crew. Don’t back away from them. This is your stage!
8. Know how to direct the accompanist. Have your music prepared in an easy to follow manner with start and stop times perfectly notated. Sing a little of the song in your head and give the accompanist the right tempo and feel to play off of. If you need to change something after the song has already started, work that into your performance. Try to have enough of an intro to allow you to set yourself up and get into the right emotional space.
It’s very hard to match a signature piece that’s already been done perfectly by a well-known singer. If you’re doing something that’s already well known and so strongly identified with a specific artist that the original will be stuck in the casting crew’s head, you are probably fighting an uphill battle. Try choosing pieces that the casting crew won’t be hearing 20 times that day. There are some very stock audition pieces out there and, truthfully, I think you should avoid them. There are tons of great songs that will allow you to show your talents in multiple styles without choosing the ones that have been very over-exposed.
Musical theatre is currently at a crossroads of the traditional and more progressive styles and sounds. Try to mix your audition pieces to cover both a more traditional musical theatre sound (female soprano and male baritone and tenor) and a more contemporary rock-pop/belt style to show your diversity. Again, pick music that shows your strengths, not your struggles. No one wants to hear you up there fighting your voice. Don’t try to prove anything or show anything specific to the panel. Be yourself. They want you to be great. That will make their job easier.
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Originally posted 2009-02-01 23:12:36.