Guest blogger Anna Grey Hogan is pitching in this week with some tips for auditioning for a musical. Anna Grey has successfully landed several musical roles here at Four County, where she played Huck Finn in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Morgan in Godspell, Pinocchio in Shrek, and Olive in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee — and at Richmond Triangle Players where she earned an Artsie nomination for her portrayal of Liza Minelli in The Boy from Oz. She is a theatre performance and English major at Virginia Commonwealth University.
One of my acting teachers once told me, “Auditioning is your job. Getting a show is a vacation.” Now, I know that for a lot of us at Four County the stakes aren’t as high as they are for working actors, but it’s still a valid point. Auditioning is often so nerve-wracking that we don’t even want to think about it, but it is the most important part of the show. I mean, without a great audition, you might not get to the show part. So, to help you land the role you really want, I am giving you the six best audition tips I have ever received.
In the Audition Room:
- Be prepared. I know it sounds obvious, but there is a lot to be said for really knowing your material. And that doesn’t just mean know your 32-bar cut of “On My Own,” it means know the show, read the show if you can. Know the playwright and/or composer and what else they have written. Know the part you desperately want and the part you’re actually right for. By doing this you will be ready to show off the best of yourself to the director, choreographer, and whoever else is behind the table.
- Smile! Nerves are absolutely normal in the audition room. It’s scary to put yourself out there, but ultimately the creative team wants to see YOU. If you walk in nervous, the auditioners will start to feel nervous. Channel those nerves into your audition piece and enter the room with a big smile!
- Pick something they haven’t heard. Now I mentioned “On My Own” up in tip #1. Ladies, please stop singing “On My Own.” It’s a classic, yes, but we’ve all heard it enough by now. There are so many songs and monologues out there that are full of untapped potential. Listen to some new shows, read some new scripts. There is a lot of material and the perfect piece is out there, but it just might take a little digging to find.
- Stay within the show’s style. If you’re auditioning for Annie and start singing Spring Awakening it’s going to be hard for the director to envision you in the production. With that said, only do a piece from the show that you are auditioning for if the creative team has specifically said it is okay. Before you pick a piece, look at what else the composer or playwright has written (remember tip #1?). If nothing from their career interests you, look at what other musicals and plays were written around the same time and you’ll surely find something to work with!
Special Bonus Dance Audition Tips:
- Don’t sit down. Sometimes dance auditions get long and tiring, it’s true, but if there is an “okay” dancer who is standing up, ready to work, they will probably beat out the “great” dancer who is lounging around on the floor. Like I said before, auditions are your chance to show off your best self, and that means that you are ready and at attention at all times. If you do need a break though, pretending to do stretches while sitting is always an option.
- Try. I am not a dancer. Never have been, never will be. But I love musicals so I have to get through the dance auditions every time. I really can’t say enough for just trying your best. Focus on what the choreographer is saying, practice on the sidelines while other people are performing the combination, say the steps to yourself as you do them, don’t freak out if you get a step wrong. Don’t give up just because the best compliment you ever received on your dancing was, “You’re a good mover.”
Ultimately, the best advice I can give is just to have fun. Everyone wants auditions to be fun. The creative team isn’t there to judge you, they actually want to see you succeed. Remember that and you’ll have a great audition and maybe a tiny bit of fun, too!