Musical Theatre Auditions - Some Hints And Tips

Auditions can be nerve-wracking - it's all too easy to believe that you're going into a lions den. But one important thing to bear in mind, is that the people auditioning you WANT to like you. It's not like TV Talent Shows where the judges are competing with each other to come up with the wittiest put-down. They have a job to do - to cast a show. They may look bored, but that's because they've probably seen lots of people already and are worried they'll never find the right person for a role. Having worked extensively as an audition pianist, I'm going to dispense some valuable tips.
1) Backing tracks or sheet music?
The vast majority of musical theatre auditions will have an audition pianist. Where this is the case, the use of backing tracks is frowned upon.
2) Material
You'll probably have been told to prepare 2 songs - one uptempo and one ballad. They may be specific and request these be of a particular period or style. Be confident of your selection, but get advice if you're not sure if your songs fit the genre. If you can't be bothered to find this out it comes across that you're not committed. Don't come in with a huge folder of titles for the audition panel to choose from - this is a frequent mistake, and wastes everybody's valuable time. Auditions are nearly always running behind time, so the more organised and efficient you are, the better. Quite often the panel will only want to hear one of your two prepared songs.
3) Preparation of your music
Here, you want to make your life easy. Photocopy your music and tape together the pages, so it can be opened out by the pianist. Dog-eared loose sheets make it difficult for the pianist to concentrate on playing, as do books that won't stay open! One of the worst experiences I had was of a singer presenting me with the music on a single long roll of fax paper. Another was when a singer came in with a hand-written piece of paper with chord symbols but no actual music. Make sure the sheet music is in the correct key - don't assume the pianist will be able to transpose at sight. If you are making cuts or there are repeats in the music, mark them clearly and confirm them with the pianist. Also make sure you have practised with the sheet music so you know exactly how it sounds - arrangements of pop songs are particularly notorious for sounding nothing like the original recording.
4) Ready to perform
Be courteous to the pianist - they're there to help you succeed in an audition. Make sure you tell them how fast or slow the music should be played - don't assume they know the song. If the pianist plays the piece a little too fast, just slow your singing, and they should follow your tempo if they're worth their salt! The most important thing is for you to be confident of your performance. If anything should go wrong - just keep going! That sometimes happens in a show, and you can't just stop and say "can I start again?" It's a good indication of how you cope with difficult situations that can present themselves in an acting job.
5) Finished!
Don't worry if you are cut off before your song finishes - this doesn't mean they don't like you, but as mentioned earlier auditions are often running behind schedule, so they simply don't have time to listen to the whole song. However, you can help yourself here by ensuring the song isn't overlong in the first place. If you can cut the song down to one verse and one chorus that's usually a perfect length.
You MAY be asked if you have any other songs with you. Now you can get out your folder of other songs - just not before this point.
Make sure you thank the pianist, regardless of how well they played - they may be the musical director!

Supplied by London Arrangements, suppliers of quality musical backing tracks.

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