Audition Tips


Tips for a Musical Theatre Audition


1. The auditioning process can be stressful, and some people can be downright terrified at an audition. Some have sweaty palms, shortness of breath, shaking knees, or an upset stomach before and during the audition. Sorry, but there is no better way to cast a show and determine individual talents and abilities than the audition process. It is by far the best method for the casting staff to determine who is the most suited and appropriate for a certain role and how each one will fit in with others on stage.

2. Although there may be some anxiety when auditioning, the best way to overcome fear is preparation in all aspects of the audition process. Be ready. Remember, go into an audition and perform your best as you would be performing on stage for an audience, not for the casting staff. Enjoy the audition! Have fun! We will consider not only each individual’s voice, stature, acting, and reading, but also how all the auditioners look and interact with one another in determining the best ensemble of performers for the production. Do your best, and leave the results to God.

3. Please keep this in mind: The casting staff is not made up of mean, evil, sadistic people who are hoping you will “mess up.” We really want you to do well. We want you to walk in the door and be exactly what we are looking for. We are rooting for you.

4. Arrive at the audition at least 20 minutes early in order to fill out the audition forms and to warm-up physically, vocally, and mentally to prepare for the audition. This way the auditions can begin on time.

5. Your audition begins the moment you step into the room. Be pleasant, confident, and have a sweet, positive attitude with everyone.

6. It is important to fill out the audition form completely, and please be honest. You are given an opportunity to indicate your role preferences, but if you will only accept a certain role or roles, let us know. However, limiting the casting staff will not improve your chances of being cast in that role. Be sure to list all the dates you cannot be at rehearsals. This is also very important in the casting process.

7. Know yourself and the types of characters for which you are best suited. It is important to audition for roles that fit you musically and dramatically. For example, a young woman auditioning for The Sound of Music shouldn’t audition for Mother Abbess but should read for Liesl instead. Also, it is not advisable for a bass to audition for a high tenor role. Play to your strengths.

8. What song to sing:

a. You are asked to be prepared with a “traditional musical theatre” song that shows your vocal range and ability. If you don’t have that type song, choose another song that will show your ability. Hymns and simple choruses are usually not a wise choice as well as “pop” music.

b. Be prepared to sing approximately 16 bars of a song. If you have chosen a song, be sure to sing the section that will let us hear your voice at its best. You may sing two sections of a song. One that will let us hear your low voice and one that will let us hear your high voice.

c. It is best not to perform a song from the show for which you are auditioning, but you may if you desire. However, a song in the same style and/or era of the production could work to your advantage. 

d. Avoid any song that would not be appropriate to sing in front of a church group. Use common sense and good taste.

e. Choose a song that fits your voice, not necessarily one that is popular or that you like. Many of today’s pop songs are designed to be sung in a microphone and, therefore, may not be a good choice. The song you pick should allow your voice to project. Most show tunes are good audition pieces because they are dramatic (have built in “actability”) and voices can be projected well.

f. You will need to provide the accompanist a copy of the music in the key in which you wish to sing. If you do not know the song from memory, you will need two copies. It would be to your benefit to memorize the song.

g. Auditionees must sing with piano accompaniment only. You may not use recorded accompaniment tapes, CDs, or other instruments, and you cannot sing a cappella (without accompaniment). A professional accompanist will be provided to play for you. In the interest of time, personal accompanists may not be used.

9. When you sing, the casting staff will look for:

a. Vocal quality. (We are looking for a “legit,” clean quality, not a “pop,” breathy sound. We want to hear your vocal skills.)

b. Pitch. (Does the person sing on pitch or flat?)

c. Preparation. (Does the person know the song, or is he struggling musically?)

d. Appropriate song. (Does the song fit the voice musically and textually?)

e. Enunciation and articulation. (Can the words be understood? Are the consonants clean and crisp?)

f. Dramatic presentation. (Does the person sing with expression and communicate the text? Are the lyrics interpreted with the voice, and do they come alive?)

10. For most productions, basic movement and/or dance auditions are required for everyone unless you are auditioning for a part that will not require it. Bring appropriate and comfortable clothing and shoes for the dance auditions. Each person will be asked to learn a few dance steps from a choreographer and then perform them in small groups (not alone).

11. Don’t get cold feet about dancing auditions. Most of the time the steps are very easy, and the casting staff just wants to see how gracefully the auditioners move, or if they move in rhythm on the beat, or even if they can know their right foot from their left foot. Look energized and exciting while moving in time with the music. When you miss something, keep going and keep smiling. A look of confidence and a big smile can hide mistakes with the feet. Even if you do the steps perfectly but are not doing something interesting with your face, or if you look like you are concentrating hard, or mad at someone, instead of enjoying it, the casting staff may pick someone else with less dancing ability who looks like he is having fun. Make sure when the choreographer is teaching the steps that you are standing in a place where you can see. And, yes, the casting staff is watching your feet.

12. Don’t panic with a “cold” reading. You will have time to read over the audition script if you arrive early. It is not supposed to be memorized, and others are just as unfamiliar with the material as you are. Focus on listening to what is being said and reacting appropriately, even when you are not the person speaking. Try to understand what the scene is about, who your character is, what your character is trying to accomplish, and how he would do it.

13. The casting staff wants to hear the quality of your voice, how you project, how you look on stage with other actors, how you interact with other actors, and how you portray the character. If you are given advice on how to read, move or present a certain line or scene, incorporate the suggestions to the best of your ability. The casting staff wants to see how well you take directions.

14. Do not apologize for your audition. Just in case the casting staff thought the audition was brilliant, don’t telegraph that you think you blew it.

15. If your name is not on the callback list, or if you have not been contacted to come to callbacks, you may still be cast. Not everyone who is cast is involved in callbacks. Sometimes the casting staff will not see everything they need to see at a first audition. If you are not called back, it just means we saw everything from you that we needed to see.

16. Please understand this, if you are not cast, it does not mean you are not good or that the casting staff has rejected you as a person. We are looking for certain characteristics and qualities for each role cast. Even the best singers, actors, or dancers may not be the “best fit” for a particular role or show. If you are not cast, gracefully accept that you are not on the list and audition for the next show.