AUDITION TIPS & TRICKS- by Cody Carlton
CharACTers Inc. – Artistic Director & President
edited by Missy Ament
Audition Notices Tell it All (Almost)
The very first thing that you should do when planning on auditioning for a show is carefully read the audition notice. Most of the time, the notice will include everything that you need to know to start preparing for your audition.
Take note of such things as:
1. Title of the Show
2. Performance Dates
3. Important Details (Special performance times or requirements)
4. Production Team
5. Kind of Audition (Musical or Play)
6. Audition Dates
7. What to Prepare
8. What Type of Performers are Needed (Age, Gender, and Special Skills)
9. Brief Synopsis
What the Notice Doesn’t Say
The Director wants you to research the show (and if possible, read it or at least become very familiar with it) before you audition. You should be prepared to list your upcoming conflicts when you get to the audition.
In Community Theater, an AUDITION is a friendly invitation for singers, actors, or other volunteer performers to “try out” for the roles in a live stage show.
Most auditions are what are called “Open Auditions”. “Open” means open to the public, but in community theatre, an open audition usually refers to auditions where actors are expected to come to ONE of the published days of Auditions and stay for 2-4 hours.
Many times, the Director and Production Team may find it necessary to have a Call Back to finalize casting. Call Backs take place after all of the regular auditions have closed. Then the directing team usually makes a “short list” of actors to be considered for each role in the show. They are asked to come in again on another day to try out in very specific ways.
What Happens at the Audition?
You may be asked to do a number of different things at any AUDITION:
- Short Preparation — scene/monologue you’re handed when you come to auditions and given a few minutes to look over
- Prepared Monologue — memorized 1-person speech which each actor chooses and rehearses to a performance level before the audition
- Prepared Song — memorized, short excerpt (16 – 32 bars or just under a minute) from a song which each actor chooses and rehearses to performance level before auditions
- Dance Audition — in 5-10 minutes, actors are taught a short dance to perform in a small group
- Improvisation — acting without a script, making it up as you go along
ALWAYS read the script and/or do your research EARLY!
1. Search online for excerpts, synopses, and character information.
2. Read the script or synopsis CAREFULLY. Would you be comfortable playing any character?
3. Know what is expected before you come down to audition
- The Casting Needs: what ages, genders of actors are needed
- Does this show require singers? Dancers?
- Is there anything to prepare: (16 bars of a song?)
- Is there anything to bring? (sheet music for your song?)
- How long will you be expected to stay?
- Is there a Callback date you need to be available to attend?
- What is the time commitment, both rehearsal & performance?
BRING EVERYTHING you’ll NEED…
- Dress in clothing that allows you to move and groove and avoid clothing/jewelry that draws attention away from YOU — you don’t want the Director remembering your necklace and not your face!
- Family Calendar/schedule — you will be asked to declare all CONFLICTS with the show’s REHEARSALS and PERFORMANCES at auditions! The Director must consider conflicts as he/she casts to ensure actors are available to rehearse together!
- Water bottle — hydration helps relieve stress
- Dance shoes (or flat shoes you can dance in…) for a Musical audition, or shoes to change into if you’ve worn high heels.
- Personal items — kleenex, brush, comb, hair ties, etc.
- Pencil, pen, notebook (just in case…)
COME to Auditions EARLY to:
- Find a Parking space and get to the audition room. Parking may be difficult, especially if you’re not familiar with the area or are in a hurry. Be on the lookout for signs on the building directing you to a certain entrance. They’ll help you find the audition location.
- Fill out Paperwork (Neatly and Legibly) – Audition Form of individual and contact information. Conflict Calendar. List of past experience/training and where you got it.
- Warm up your voice (and stretch for a dance audition). Actors are expected to be ready to go at their given time.
- Look over any Monologue or Scene handed out – If the Director is going to give you something to Prepare beforehand, you want to give yourself time to do it!
*Save TIME filling out Audition paper-work – bring in a TYPED LIST of your past Experience and Training to staple to your audition form!*
A Bit about the CASTING Process…
- The DIRECTOR may see up to 100 people audition for one show! The more people, the more time casting takes — it may include several “Callback” sessions!
- It is the Director’s Job to BALANCE the production’s cast. The cast can’t have everyone be short, or tall, or blonde, or female… Perhaps some people need to look like they’re part of a family. A Musical needs some people who can sing high and some who can sing low.
- There may be special needs for a particular role like juggling or playing the guitar — so the Director has to search until he/she finds someone who can do that!
Directors ALWAYS Look for…
- Team Players — actors who listen and support their fellow actors
- Poise & Personality — confident, relaxed and energetic actors
- Good Diction & Projection — speaking loudly, clearly, and slowly enough to prounounce all the sounds in each word
- Understanding — actors who “get” what they’re reading
- Expression — an actor must share his/her feelings and emotions with the audience while reading, dancing or singing
- Vulnerability — allowing your sensitive side to show
- Whole-hearted Acting — using everything you’ve got — Face, Voice and entire Body
- Flexibility — being able to make changes if asked
- Dedication — Volunteers who can really commit to the show.
There’s a limited number of roles in each play– So only a limited number of people can be IN the show, but the AUDITION is a chance for EVERYONE to have a fun theatre experience. Most of the casting process is out of the Actor’s control, so concentrate on preparing as well as you can, and having a great time at auditions!
Most shows rehearse 3 or 5 times a week in the evenings (6:00 until 8:00 or 8:30pm.) The week prior to opening there will be rehearsals scheduled everyday.
There’s no substitute for TRAINING — we do not require training or classes to audition for our plays, but taking an Acting, Singing or Dance class is the BEST way to prepare for Auditions!
We always try to work around schedules as much as possible! If you would like to participate in a show, then come to the audition. We can talk about your conflicts then, and we will try to make it work.
PARENTS — help your Child Prepare…
- Guide him/her through the A, B, C’s. Even older kids will need your help!
- Be aware that a child in a show is a FAMILY commitment. Children must be driven to and from rehearsal and performance. They may need help learning lines. They will definitely need help balancing Theatre & School.
- Planning Ahead – Check out auditions as you plan Everyone’s school year activities so a Theatre commitment can be balanced with family needs. The more pre-planning, the better prepared and less stressed the child will be at auditions, allowing him/her the best Audition possible.
- Talk about the Whole PROCESS.
- You should read the script or synopsis with your child (LOOK AT THE RATING FOR THE SHOW.)
- Help them become familiar with ALL the Characters
- Discuss how Directors will have to cast people who have the correct “look” for each role (as well as the talent!)
- Remind them that there will be a lot more kids at auditions than there are parts in the show
- Theatre is NOT like Sports — help your child understand that Theatre isn’t about COMPETING, but COOPERATING.
- The Director may ask to see the children audition without parents in the room — to help them feel less nervous and audition better
5. Consider ALL Possible Outcomes – What will he/she have to give up if he/she is cast? Discuss if he/she is offered a different role than he/she wanted… Be aware that the Director’s job is to cast while considering the BIG picture for the WHOLE production, so if your child is not cast it is NOT because he/she did something wrong!
6. Discuss AUDITIONING as a Wonderful Life-Experience. Setting a goal, preparing ahead of time, and doing your best on the day is a great accomplishment and should be applauded!
- Community Theatres offer children the opportunity to perform in order to develop life skills and have FUN — and most Directors will try to make the audition experience itself fun, too!
- Remember that Casting is out of your hands — your job is to give the best Audition you possibly can on that particular day.
NON-singing Roles in a MUSICAL are very RARE, so the Director and Music Director need to hear EVERYONE sing. They must hear everyone sing ONE at a time – even those who are not auditioning for leads or roles that will have solos in the production. So, musical auditions usually start with EACH person singing SIXTEEN BARS of a prepared, memorized song while someone plays the piano part (not necessarily the tune) along with you.
16-32 Bars of What?
A “bar” is a “measure” of music. 16 bars is about the length of the CHORUS of a song.
Pick a song from a MUSICAL – not necessarily the one you’re auditioning for, but rapping or singing a hymn doesn’t show what the Directors need to hear.
*DO NOT SING A SONG THAT IS TOO “OLD” FOR YOU! If you are 10 years old do not come and sing me a song about how much you love some boy or girl, how you are going to die and lay in a bed of roses, or anything like that. Sing an AGE APPROPRIATE SONG! As a rule I do not want to hear ANYONE sing: Adele, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, or just about any other artist that is currently on the radio. Pick a song from a musical (either a stage musical or a movie musical) that shows off your range, is age appropriate, and has a similar style to the show. You are auditioning for a MUSICAL, not American Idol.*
Pick a song that shows your RANGE – how low and/or high you can sing – and be careful to avoid choosing one that is too low or high for your comfort!
May I sing with a CD of the song at auditions?
ONLY if the CD has only the BACKGROUND accompaniment — without someone singing the song. (Remember, the Directors need to hear you by yourself!
- Know your song – memorized is best
- Know what the piano part sounds like — when to “come in” after the introduction, for example.
- Mark your sheet music where you want the accompanist to start and stop. Attach your music to something sturdy so it won’t fall off the music stand.
- If you use a CD, make sure that the CD works and that it is already edited to the spot where you need it.
You May DANCE at Musical Auditions
Almost ALL roles in a MUSICAL require the actor to do some simple dance steps and move as a group. SOME roles are for trained dancers or actors who can pick up dancing very quickly. So, EVERYONE has to dance at musical auditions, in addition to singing. The CHOREOGRAPHER (person who makes up the dances for the show) needs to see how light on your feet you are and how quickly you can learn new steps.
The most IMPORTANT part of a Dance Audition is your SMILE!
Do I have to prepare a dance or bring dance music?
No, the Choreographer will teach a short dance routine! The choreographer plans the audition dance routine to his/her own music and brings it to auditions.
- Come to auditions dressed ready to move in comfortable clothing. Tight jeans, short skirts, cropped tops, etc. are not the easiest things to dance in!
- Wear appropriate shoes. Obviously, ballet slippers or jazz shoes if you have them. If you don’t, flat heels or even heavy socks usually work well.
Tips to make the most of your dance audition.
- Keep your eyes up – looking at your feet makes the people watching you look at them too!
- Relax and have fun – if you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world.
- The Director and Choreographer are looking for people who are easy to work with, not people who get uptight and upset if something goes wrong.
- If you don’t understand something, ask right away for an explanation. The Choreographer may forget and use some dance terms. If you don’t know what “ball-change” means, and can’t tell from what he or she is doing – ask for a “translation, please!”
Reading Scenes is done AFTER You Sing and Dance…. Normally
Because just about everyone in a Musical sings and dances, the Production Team uses those two ways to narrow down the people who could play each role. After the first half of the audition is over, they will ask for some people to stay back to read for certain roles, sing a bit of a song from the show, and maybe go through a more difficult dance routine. This could all be done at Call Backs as well as depending on what the Director wants.
*Not everyone is asked to read from the show. This does not mean that you will not be cast or that you did a bad job. It simply means that we do not need to hear you read at that audition. You may still receive a call back.*
EVERYTHING You DO at an Audition becomes PART of the Audition!
|DO! DO! DO!||Please Don't!|
|DO -- Listen to everything & everyone!||DON’T -- Talk while anyone else is talking/singing!DON’T -- Make the director repeat instructions, by not listening the 1st time.|
|DO -- Follow Directions as soon as they’re given.||DON’T -- Put on a costume to show how you’d look as the character!|
|DO -- Dress nicely in something comfortable that makes you feel good.||DON’T -- Wear stage makeup or a fancy hairdo, or a hat hiding your face!|
|DO -- Pull your hair back so the director can see your face even if you bend over.||DON’T -- Be late, unprepared, or expect the director to help you warm up.|
|DO -- Be prepared and ready to go from the moment you come in.||DON’T -- Try to hide behind other people, look at the floor all the time or hide your face in the script.|
|DO -- Smile -- look friendly and happy to be here!||DON’T -- Pay attention ONLY to the director. Assistants give casting suggestions, and you’re hoping to be in a show with the other auditionees!|
|DO -- Be courteous, friendly and considerate of all workers and other auditionees, and applaud everyone who is auditioning.||DON’T -- Mumble, shout or talk very fast.|
|DO -- Speak (or sing) loudly and clearly.||DON’T -- Interrupt the director – wait for a break or ask the worker at the desk.|
|DO -- Ask questions if you really don’t understand -- raise your hand.||DON’T -- Make excuses about why you usually do better. (Directors can tell when you have a cold.)|
|DO -- The best you can -- don’t worry that it might have sounded better at home.||DON’T -- Try to influence the director -- let your audition speak for itself.|
|DO -- Respect the director -- this is his/her job & he/she has a lot of experience!||DON’T -- Call the director or theater to see if you’ve been cast. If the director has your email and phone number and casts you, then you WILL get an email or a call.|
|DO -- Make sure your card and other paperwork has all possible phone numbers, e-mail, and other ways to get in touch with you.|
CharACTers Inc. – Artistic Director & President