Tips for Actors to Prepare for a Musical Theater Audition

George| September 6, 2019

If you haven’t figured out by now, musical theater is a difficult art to master. It’s acting, speaking, singing, and dancing all in one. You’ll have to be a triple or quadruple threat to secure yourself a sure spot as the competition is quite tight! There are hundreds or thousands of naturally born performers competing for limited roles, and watching them breeze through auditions can be a blow to your self-confidence. Fortunately, there are pieces of advice you can use to help you land the role you’ve always wanted.

Helpful Tips to Prepare for a Musical Theater Audition

It is highly important to prepare, do your best, and leave the audition room with impressed casting directors. Who knows? The audition you are going to might just be your ticket to Broadway success. To ace that upcoming musical theater audition, here are tips that are worth keeping in mind.

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Before Auditions

1. Keep your voice polished and healthy.

In musical theater, your voice is your main asset, so you need to take good care of it. Getting regular exercise, having a healthy diet, and making sure you’re properly hydrated all the time are just a few things you can do. You also have to take a good eight-hour sleep every day, especially the night before the audition day to condition your voice.

Also, you can’t expect to go into musical theater auditions and perform excellently if you haven’t sung in a while, so you better practice your vocal cords. As an aspiring musical actor, practice should not be done shortly before an audition but constantly. Keep your voice polished and ready for a performance.

2. Learn what you can about the production.

It’s blatant disrespect to the production if you can’t answer who and what you’re auditioning for. There’s not one acceptable excuse for not caring to know even the basics. Do some research about the show: know the singing styles, familiarize the characters, and try to figure out the appropriate songs you can use at the audition. You can search for more details about the play at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts located at the Lincoln Center. Or look up videos on the internet. At the end of the day, being informed about the show will be for your benefit.

3. Determine which roles fit you.

Casting directors, producers, and even talent agents are going to be quite particular with your physical image. As a matter of fact, they consider this the 50% rule. These professionals have already familiarized the script, so they’ve envisioned a corresponding look for each character involved. This means that the minute you walk into an audition room and you look just like the character you are auditioning for, you have already won the role by half. All you have to do is act the part well and the job is definitely in the bag.

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With this inside knowledge in mind, choose from among the available roles which characters fit you. Choosing well might just put you at an advantage against other candidates. If you’re curious about what casting directors look for in an actor, read this.

4. Select an appropriate musical piece.

Finding the right audition song can take time. You don’t have to prepare a piece that’s too unique that even the pianist couldn’t follow the notes. If you’re too desperate to stand out, you might end up singing a cappella, which is a big no-no in musical theater auditions. Sometimes it pays to be on the safe side, so pick an easier song. Here are things to consider when choosing an audition song. If you can, you may prepare a legibly written piece with the correct tempo and right keys too.

5. Master the audition piece.

If you’ll be asked to render your own audition piece, then good. That means you have plenty of time to master it days before the audition. But if the director hands out a piece, you have no choice but to take it and learn it. Remember to give yourself plenty of time to practice your audition material with the pianist. If you make a mistake while singing, just keep going and don’t let it show.

During the Auditions

6. Never overdo the makeup.

Don’t overdo your makeup when attending auditions, or you end up being remembered as the newbie who’s desperate for attention. Just like your headshots, a light liquid foundation that covers your dark circles and a lipstick that matches well with your skin’s undertones are enough. Your makeup should accentuate your natural features. This is not a modeling gig. In acting auditions, less is more, so drop the fake lashes, hair extensions, and synthetic mustache and be yourself.

7. Do not overdress either.

You’re not going to a club or party, so don’t wear seven-inch pumps or a glittery tightfitting dress. It’s an audition, so dress appropriately for it. Dress comfortably, but don’t wear baggy clothes. Wear an appropriate attire that reflects your personality and not that of the character you are auditioning for. A pair of nice jeans and a semiformal top with a pair of block heels for ladies and leather shoes for gents will do.

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8. Show up early.

It doesn’t matter what kind of audition you’re going to, it’s always on a first-come-first-serve policy. So if you want to ace your auditions, show up early. That way, you’ll be one of the first performers to finish and get rid of the anxiety sooner. Plus, musical directors just had their morning coffee then, meaning they haven’t seen a lot of auditions yet that can potentially irk them. Showing up early gives you a better chance of hearing a sensible critic with a calm tone.

9. Show up with confidence.

Making a good and lasting first impression is the key. Always remember this as you prepare for a musical theater audition. Even when you are terrified, act like you are not. You’ve prepared for the big day, so slouching is definitely not the best way to show your efforts. Act confident. Walk into the audition with a big smile, use hand gestures when singing, and keep a good standing posture.

After the Auditions

Every actor has bad days and good days. Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep once said that she was turned away from an audition for being “too ugly.” The industry is often a cruel and cutthroat one, so you don’t need to beat yourself up when things don’t go your way. 

But you see, auditions are just another obstacle you need to face. After each audition, an actor has to move on and look for as many more auditions to join. 

Good luck! 

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