Getting cast in a musical, as mentioned in our previous blog post, is nothing short of a miracle.
It has everything, and (paradoxically) nothing to do with your audition, contrary to popular opinion. Which is typically “great audition = role in show”.
Not so, fellow theatre nerd. Not. So.
Now, before we go further, let me clarify. I am not proclaiming to be a master of auditions. There is much I could learn from people far more talented than myself, but in saying that, I have (in my many years of auditioning for things I was never going to be cast in) learnt a thing or two about the harsh reality of that audition room – it’s about more than just a killer voice.
#1 Look’s Matter
Don’t feel sad if you don’t get cast in Miss Saigon when you showed them the worlds greatest rendition of Defying Gravity. Perhaps you simply didn’t look Asian enough. Equally important, don’t bitch about the fact that you don’t get cast as Motor Mouth in Hairspray if you are a petite white chick. Suspension of disbelief only goes so far. That said, you may feel a bit hard done by if you don’t get cast as Jesus if you are totally nailed your performance of Old Man River, but perhaps the Musical Director wasn’t convinced you could just as easily nail the high notes required of the Son of God.
#2 Look’s. Really. Matter.
If you are auditioning for a large production, in a large city, then chances are you are competing against an equally large number of people for a far less large number of roles. Try to avoid dressing ‘forgettably’. They may well stick a number to your clothes and video your audition, but unless you really wow them with your song, then it is very likely you will be lost in the crowd to some extent. This isn’t to say that you should go and put on that unicorn onesie, however. The key is to look reliable, professional and well turned out enough that the panel thinks you really CARE. Which you do, so that shouldn’t be too hard.
#3 I’m not even kidding. Look’s Count!
From the moment you step into that audition space, you are being judged. That’s why auditioning is pretty much the worst thing in the world. If you walk in to the audition room folding in on yourself in fear – then unless you are hoping they will see you as the damsel in distress, you better believe they have already switched off. FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT! Show them you believe in yourself and you are already winning. Stand up, pretend that you are thrilled to have them judging you and you can’t wait to sing for an audience of between 3-7 people who have already seen 100 people sing for them that morning. YAY!
#4 Be Prepaaaaaared
Did you just sing that like Scar? No? Just me?
Well, ok then. Moving on.
Let’s assume for a moment, that you do have the look they are after, that you are dressed perfectly and that you are totally sweet with walking into that audition room and nailing your song to the wall. Now back track a bit – are you ready for this? Have you selected an appropriate song (more on that debacle another day) and rehearsed it? Do you know how you are singing it? Do you know where every note in that song fits in your voice? Do you know how you are interpreting it? Do you know the character background? The name of the show it’s from? What the scenario surrounding it is? Why it exists at all?
If you answered no to any of those questions, then you better go and do some research and rehearsing.
#5 Sell them the story, not just the voice
Let’s remind ourselves for a moment of the one KEY thing that sets musical theatre apart from all other musical and theatrical forms.
It is a combination of the following two art forms:
Music. And. Theatre.
Too often us Musical Theatre geeks forget the theatre part, preferring instead to simply wow the audition panel with our incredible voices. While this may pay off in some cases, more often than not, this approach will FAIL YOU!
If you look the part, and know your song inside out and back to front, then let the theatre of it come into your performance. Act. Emote. FEEL what you are singing about. Whatever you do, do not just stand and sing.
Why is this important?
Contrary to some uneducated belief systems, Musical Theatre is not just about great singing. Of course, it is certainly preferable to have a cast who can sing, more often than not, if faced with the choice, a good directorial team will pick an actor who can mostly sing, over a singer who can sort of act.
Audiences are coming for a story, not a concert. Never, never, never forget the story of your song.
- IF you look right for the part
- IF you are memorable
- IF you seem confident
- You really know your song
- You sell them the story not just the voice
If you succeed with these five points, have managed to get the stars to align, AND appeased the theatre gods, then it is highly likely that you stand a very good chance of being cast. Of course, at the end of the day, there may just be someone better. Which sucks, but there will always be more opportunities.
Now go and conquer those cold audition panels – remember, they want you to be great, because they want to be able to cast their show (even if often their tired, grumpy faces suggest otherwise).