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Monologues for Auditions

Updated on January 27, 2012

Welcome to Monologues for Auditions!

One of the most common statements I hear as a theatre professional is "I need monologues for auditions!" It never fails; the grumbler could be a young tyke dreaming of making it big on The Disney Channel, an undergraduate fresh out of school, or a certifiable pro that has been getting work for years, but your audition monologues are, like your "type," forever changing. Although there are thousands of published plays out there, picking the perfect monologue is more difficult than one might believe. One of my greatest pleasures being behind the table is watching the stars align: the monologue and the actor are a perfect match. We are committed to finding the best audition material for you!

Picking the perfect audition material...

It's more complicated than you might think... we'll help!

The process of picking the perfect audition is a serious matter, but should not be daunting. It requires the actor to actively and honestly look inward, understanding, before even attempting to pick a monologue, who they are and what casting directors might be looking for (this might fall on the parents when preparing for kid auditions). For example, a 14-year-old boy probably won't sing the very popular "Tomorrow" from Annie, just as a young girl won't sing "If I Were A Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof. As drastic as these examples are, believe me, it happens. More common are the times when a preteen will perform, in all seriousness, a monologue that requires serious life experience, and it reads insincere. As talented as the actor may be, if the monologue is working against the actor, it will fall short and the opportunity will quickly pass: "Thanks, we'll call you!"

Appropriate audition material is prevalent from a number of outlets and relatively easy to find, but the real difficulty is trusting the work enough to genuinely sell it. Believing in the monologue and committing to bringing it to life is half the battle. This blog is committed to helping you find the perfect monologue and audition material for you. You are one of a kind. You could very well be the person the people behind the table are looking for and they want you to do your best. You have one shot - you deserve to find the one monologue that will get you the gig.

A monologue for young women from "A View From the Bridge" - "A View From the Bridge" by Arthur Miller

One of my favorite things to see in an audition is an actor surprise the table with a unique, fresh interpretation of a character in a classic play. When it comes to monologues for auditions, I would encourage the actor to get creative instead of merely settling on a piece that is "one size fits all." What do I mean by this? Well, a monologue that is performed at an audition doesn't necessarily have to be exactly what is printed on the paper. Don't be afraid to edit a scene to make a great audition monologue. Let's explore a couple of characters that show some depth and some dialogue that offers some hearty material for a unique audition.

Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge (which was Tony nominated for Best Revival of a Play in 2010) is a modern masterpiece about love, jealousy, and belonging. My favorite character in the play is Catherine (Scarlett Johansson won a Tony for this role in 2010), a submissive 17-year-old, who is incredibly beautiful. She is popular with the boys, quiet, and shy. She finds it hard to stand up to her father figure, Eddie, but all the while feels real emotions and deals with her own real stakes. In this tragedy, Catherine has a wonderful scene where in the dialogue she says, "I know him... I know when his feet hurt. And now you want me to turn around and tell him he's nothin' to me." I saw this performed by a young lady who was brilliant, and when I asked her about it, she said she cut most of the dialogue from the scene and made her own monologue for auditions. Bravo! It was roughly 45 seconds which is perfect for most auditions. I welcome you to read A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller if you haven't already. You won't be disappointed.

A great musical theatre audition for strong women! - "Woman" from The Pirate Queen

For all of you musical theatre ladies that love a good, strong solo, I have one for you that is fairly new and not yet performed often. The Pirate Queen is a new musical about the story of Grace O’Malley, one of history’s most impressive female sea captains. This musical theatre audition, “Woman,” speaks for itself as she sings, “I have my dreams./ I have made plans./ I see horizons wide as a man’s./ Must I be nothing but some man’s wife?/ Look at this face./ Does it deceive?/ Do I look made to milk and to weave?/ I’ll be damned to hell if that is my life.//” It requires very strong vocal chops with a huge range and wants to be acted intensely and genuinely. If you think you have the chops to belt out this showstopper, watch this video. It is beautifully realized by Stephanie J. Block, one of my favorite stage performers.

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Matt Sayles / AP Photo
Matt Sayles / AP Photo

Taylor Swift, Les Miz, and Monologues for Auditions!

What material you shouldn't do...

With all the hubbub about Taylor Swift auditioning for Eponine in Tom Hooper's upcoming film, Les Miserables, I immediately thought, "On My Own," which made me think, "Ugh!," which made me think, "Oh! I should write about audition material that is really overdone." I personally find it funny that she auditioned for an epic movie musical instead of auditioning for Disney. I digress. So, here it is, folks. Beyond "I'm Not That Girl" from Wicked and "Purpose" from Avenue Q, what are some overdone monologues for auditions that are too popular to use at an audition?

Blockbuster shows like Rent, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables seem to be very popular in auditions. However, because these shows were so popular at one time or another (even today), everyone has a preconceived idea of what the songs should sound like. Even if you do a bang-up job with Popular from Wicked, you might be actually hurting yourself in an audition because the casting director has Kristen Chenoweth in his head the entire time you are singing.

The tunafish monologue from Durang's Laughing Wild is probably the most overdone contemporary monologue for men or women these days. Men should steer away from anything LaBute, Shanley, Greenberg or Mamet. Women should watch out for Martin, Rabe, Shanley, Simon, and Wasserstein. Of course, there are gems to audition with among these playwrights, but just be weary. Furthermore, Shakespeare has some overdone monologues aside from the famous "To be or not to be…" from Hamlet. Puck's "My mistress with a monster is in love…" from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo's "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?," and Hamlet's "Speak the speech…" are also often used. Ladies, Julia's "O hateful hands, to tear such loving words!" from Two Gentlemen of Verona, Ophelia's "O what a noble mind is here o'erthrown" from Hamlet, and Helena's "How happy some o'er other some" from A Midsummer Night's Dream are cripplingly overdone.

Nick Jonas, How to Succeed..., and Character Actors!

Daniel Radcliff, Darren Criss, and Nick Jonas have all played J. Pierrepont Finch in the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in a matter of weeks. I was involved in a production of the musical comedy when I was younger and had a blast. I appreciate well-written musicals, especially this one by Loesser and Burrows. And, while I have not seen this particular production at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, I have heard wonderful things and hope to catch it before it closes. I rarely have the patience for silly character work, but Bud, Smitty and Hedy La Rue in How to Succeed… are a riot! Let’s look at some of the best characters in the theatre world and which monologues for auditions will work best.

“Coffee Break” and “Been a Long Day” are both terrific pieces for Smitty, the quirky secretary who is also Rosemary’s best friend. They’re classic and simple tunes that can showcase that humorous female character. Recently, Smitty has been played by Victoria Clark and Mary Faber, two outstanding leading ladies.

“A Secretary is Not a Toy” is Bratt’s big number in Act I and can be played in many different ways. Bratt is a character who can be played big and brash or professional and merciless. In the production I was involved in, our Bratt was not the biggest or most masculine guy on stage, but he sold this number because he was a brilliant character actor. He “toyed” with the secretaries and it read just fine even if he wasn’t aggressive and misogynistic.

In light of recasting the new How to Succeed… on Broadway, I thought I would weigh in on the great character work being done in this timeless musical.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can find us at @monologues4auds on Twitter.

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