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Auditioning for a Musical

Updated on September 15, 2013

Is this show for you?

The first, and most obvious question you should be asking yourself before auditioning for a musical is, is there a part for me in the show? If you're looking to land a lead, this question is a necessity. Of course, thespians always have their dream roles, but there are times when it's essential to take a step back and assess the roles available. For instance, is there role in your vocal range? What about your age range? Does the character dance? Do you dance? Can you play a leading man or woman role, or are you best suited for a supporting role? Time and time again, I see people, young and old, auditioning for roles that they have their heart set on but that they aren't right for. So, look carefully at the character descriptions, vocal ranges, dance requirements, and age range. This can save you a big headache before you even begin preparing for the actual audition.

What show is this again?

Showing up to an audition you know nothing about will only hurt you. How exactly did you pick out the song you're about to sing for your audition if you don't have a clue about what you're auditioning for? By knowing what you are auditioning for ahead of time, you can properly pick out a song or portion of a song that ties in nicely with the show. Your audition piece should be in a similar style, theme, or genre of the show you're auditioning for. Another benefit of knowing the show is that if a director asks you to read or sing from it, you'll have a huge advantage over someone who has no real knowledge of the material. Planning ahead and knowing what you're auditioning for always pay off in an audition.

Should I sing something from the show?

This is a question that a lot of people seem to ask when faced with an audition. My advice is to NOT sing something from the show unless it is specified in the audition notice to do so. Singing songs directly from the show should be reserved for callbacks when the director is there giving you direction and advice. This is why it is safer to sing something similar to, but not from the show, at your initial audition.

How do I pick my audition song?

Picking out the right song is essential for a successful audition. It's important to choose something from the same genre and style as the show you're auditioning for. A song from the same composer usually works. If the show is filled with up tempo numbers, you wouldn't want to go into the audition with a slow ballad. Not only would that not showcase the singing abilities you'd need for the role, it would prove you have little knowledge of the show itself.

You should make sure that the song you pick is not only similar to the show you're auditioning for, but, and most importantly, that it showcases your singing abilities. It should be a song that you feel comfortable singing.

Another important thing to try and avoid is auditioning with a piece of music that is overdone. That is, don't show up to your audition with the most popular song from the most popular musical. Chances are good, they've heard fifty other people already sing it earlier that day. Songs from Les Miserables, Wicked, Rent, Annie, The Phantom of the Opera, among others, while excellent shows, aren't something you should choose. Try being as original as you can. Believe me, the director will feel refreshed when he or she hears you singing something that hasn't already been sung.

More insight on choosing potential audition songs

Should I sing a cappella?

Arriving to an audition for a musical with no sheet music is like trying to eat with no silverware. It can get messy. I'm sure there are many of you out there that sound wonderful a cappella; however, the director and musical director want to know that you can sing with accompaniment and are able to match pitch. Not to mention, it just makes you look unprepared, and a musical theater audition isn't American Idol after all. Always arrive to your audition with sheet music that is clearly marked for your accompanist. This will ensure that they know exactly where to begin and end, making your audition flow that much smoother.

You mean I have to prepare?

Preparation is your best weapon against a nerve wracking audition. Pick out your music in plenty of time and practice with an accompanist beforehand. Often times, those auditioning merely listen to a karaoke track or attempt to "wing it" at the audition without having practiced with an accompanist. I highly recommend that you don't follow their lead. Singing with an accompanist can be a far cry from a professional karaoke track and certainly nothing close to you singing along to the original track or a cappella version in the car on the ride to the audition. Preparation will set you apart form your competition. You'll feel less nervous, and be able to deliver a much better performance all the way around. Nerves are a killer at auditions, and a little preparation can go a long way.

What's projection?

If the director can't hear you, chances are good you won't be getting the part. You have to stay confident and sing out. This is another place where preparation and practice come into play. Before your audition practice singing loudly and projecting your voice. Remember, there's a difference between screaming and projecting. You don't want to yell so loud that you cause yourself to miss notes during the audition.

When does it start?

Even if you're the greatest singer of all time, you won't be cast in any show if you're rude and have a bad attitude. When you're called into your audition, be polite and courteous, and thank the director when you're dismissed. A good attitude and a smile can go a long way during an audition. You never know, the director could be on the fence and the simple fact that you thanked him or her for their time could be the deciding factor


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