There’s no business like show business! And no form of acting has more “show” than musical theatre. Musical theatre is an incredible form of performance, a whirlwind of singing, acting and dance. However, musical theatre isn’t just about entertainment. There is a lot of heart in it, and when it’s down right, it can be truly moving.
Most actors have at one stage explored the world of musical theatre, and for many it makes up much of their professional life. So how do you start nailing musical theatre auditions and booking this type of acting work?
Musical Theatre Audition Tips
Auditioning is an art in and of itself. Set yourself up for success by making your talents the focus of the room. Here are some quick tips to make things easy on you (and your accompanist!)
Remember that accompanists are all sight reading your music
- There is a good chance that they have seen and played your song before, but everyone has varying degrees of ability.
- Make your accompanist do as little work as possible (+they will love you for it!)
- Remember that the accompanist is another voice on the panel.
- And be nice to them. You will be in your own world, but remember to be a human.
Put your music in a 3 ring binder
- No folders, no tape accordions, no score books, no staples.
- The front page (like the cover of the book) should be a title page and not the first page of music
i. This means that they don’t need to turn the page right away!
ii. This title page will include: Title of song, Name of character, Composer & Lyricist, Title of Show (as written below)
iii. If you purchase music from Musicnotes.com, it will print it this way automatically for you!
- All pages will be double sided
i. Either photocopy it like this or simply tape the pages together along the corners and edges.
ii. Except the first page, which will be the title page. Open it like a book to the start of your song!
The Diva’s Lament
(Lady of the Lake)
Lyrics: Josh Du Prez & Eric Idle
Music: Eric Idle
A classic belty power ballad. Great for a mezzo.
A great comedic ballad
- In almost any audition you should have these, depending on the length of your song.
- This is useful if you are doing an audition that calls for your best 16 bars of music. Don’t just go from the top to 16, find the best 16 bars in there and show off!
- Avoid cutting from one key to another without a meaningful transition.
- Get a vocal coaching ahead of time with an accompanist if you can so that there are no surprises for you or for them.
- If you end up crossing out several staffs of music on the page, consider crafting it up by cutting out what you will use and taping it to a new page and then re-photcopying the final page.
Never apologize for how your voice sounds!
- The panel is made up of professionals and experts, so they can likely hear it in your voice if you are a little sick. It sounds like you are making excuses for your performance and an audition panel just wants to see you trying your best! No need to apologise for any of that.
- If you are especially concerned (ie. You have laryngitis or vocal nodes) see if you can reschedule your audition.
- Pick a song that is in your current range and have your healthy range listed on your resume. They might ask you if you are sick (which you can definitely confirm!)
- Say your name and what song you will be singing, including composer/lyricist and the musical that it is from.
In the audition
- An audition is not your personal cabaret act; Remember that you are there to show off your chops: vocal and acting as well as how easy you are to work with.
- If someone on the panel gives you a note or redirect, take it by going all the way with it; rule of thumb is that it’s always easier to pull back that to try and pull something out of someone. (How to take direction) This is demonstrating your acting range, like a vocal range! If they want to see how high you can sing, you would certainly go as high as you could. So if they ask to see your piece done in a different way, think of it like they are asking you to sing the highest note and really take it in that direction.
This is what we’re here for: expanding your audition rep.
It’s easy to want to sing Wicked, or Rent, at every audition, because let’s face it, those songs are great! But with a little research (this list is a great starting point) you can find songs that will be less common. Trust, when you’ve sat through 20 “Popular”s you’ll be grateful for anything different!
A few quick tips for song selection:
- Pick something show-appropriate. AKA, don’t go into a Gilbert & Sullivan audition with Rock of Ages
- Pick something that is easy to play (aka, Jason Robert Brown is often one to avoid. Sondheim sometimes, too!)
- Pick something that you ENJOY singing! I can’t tell you how long I’ve spent searching for the ‘perfect’ audition song, only to get sick of it and have all the theatre companies doing shows that didn’t fit with it.
- Find these scores at your library!
Like with any acting audition preparation is key. If you prepare thoroughly you can walk into that room with confidence. Especially in musical theatre, confidence or self assurance is a huge asset. An audition for musical theatre is such a pleasure. You get to sing, dance and act, the three things you love to do, so enjoy it. Viewing every audition as a chance to learn and grow as a performer is the attitude you need to foster. All the best!