Did you know that all performers in Arts Center productions are all volunteers from the local area? Anyone can audition for our productions, regardless of experience, and the Arts Center often offers new performers (of ALL ages!) their first chance to perform live on stage. If you think you are ready to audition for an upcoming production, here is a step-by-step guide to help you prepare!
How to Learn About Auditions
- Audition announcements are posted on The Arts Center website, facebook page, and sent out to our e-mail newsletter group. To get signed up, visit artscenterofcc.com/auditions
- Once you receive an audition notice, read the audition requirements carefully and research the show you are auditioning for. What sorts of roles are available? What are the age ranges? If a musical, what is the style of music? Is there a movie version you can watch to help familiarize with the show? Is the script available online or at your local library for you to read?
What to Prepare
- Different shows will require different audition materials, but often directors require that those auditioning prepare 16-32 bars of a song. A “bar” is the same thing as a measure in piano sheet music, defined by two black lines on either side of a section of notes. Depending on the song, 16 bars sometimes equal no more than one page of music (approx. 30 seconds- 1 min). If you decide to sing a capella (meaning without music- only do this if the audition notice states it is allowed), choose a small section of the song.
- Having trouble finding a song? Be sure to pick something in the style of the show and/or the role(s) you are interested in (i.e. if you are auditioning for Ariel in The Little Mermaid, choose something Disney-esque that you can imagine a Disney Princess singing). Find something that shows off your vocal range (how high or low you can go) but that you are also comfortable enough in to sing at an audition even if you get a little nervous!
- Once you pick a song, you can find piano sheet music online to give to the accompanist who will play the piano for you while you sing (be sure to check if an accompanist will be provided for you or if you need to sing a capella). Website databases with a wide range of sheet music selections include www.musicnotes.com and www.sheetmusicplus.com. If you decide to use sheet music out of a song book, be sure to make copies of the pages so the accompanist doesn’t have to worry about turning the page or having the book close accidentally.
- If the audition notice says to prepare a monologue, do just that! Monologues are blocks of dialogue meant to be performed by one actor and are often requested at auditions. Monologues can be found all over the internet and in various monologue books. Keep your monologue in your pocket if you need to look over it before your turn, but be sure to memorize it! If the audition notice states a time limit for your monologue, time yourself when you run through it and make cuts to the dialogue as necessary.
- When an audition notice says to be prepared for “cold readings”, they aren’t referring to the temperature! A cold reading is when you are given a scene or monologue to read with little to no time to prepare. If you have never done a cold reading before, you can use anything to practice! Read a section of the newspaper out loud or find a page of dialogue in a book. If you can locate a script for the show you are auditioning for ahead of time, you can read over the scenes and be extra prepared in the event of a cold reading!
- If there is going to be a dance call and you don’t consider yourself a dancer, don’t panic. The director and choreographer just want to see how well you can take direction and how comfortably you can use your body. Some shows will require strong dancers, but many shows just require “movers” who can learn basic choreography (dance steps) and keep in time with the music. Be sure to dress accordingly if you think you will be dancing- no jeans or clothing that may restrict your movement, wear comfortable or dance specific shoes, pull your hair back so it doesn’t get in your face, etc.
- As your audition approaches you will probably start wondering what you should wear, and usually the answer is “anything that you feel comfortable in”. If you’re still stuck between outfits, think about the show and the roles available. How would the character(s) you are auditioning for dress? What colors or styles? When all else fails- wear something neutral. The director is looking at your performance abilities, not your sense of style!
- For teenage girls and women, neutral hair and makeup is best unless audition requirements state otherwise. Avoid overly high heels and flashy accessories. Let your talent shine, not your jewelry!
- Directors will sometimes request that those auditioning bring a headshot and resume, but it is rarely required. A “headshot” is an 8x10 printed photo, typically from the shoulders up, that represents an actor’s current age, hairstyle, etc. A “resume” includes your physical descriptions, contact information, past experience, education, etc. Search for “Actor Headshots” or “Actor Resume” in Google or another search engine for examples. If this is your first audition or you don’t have much experience, don’t worry about bringing a headshot and resume unless specifically required. There will be audition forms to fill out that will request necessary information.
The Day of the Audition
- Warm-up before you arrive by singing scales and/or going over your audition song to warm up your vocal chords, doing a few tongue twisters to get your mouth moving, and stretching your muscles before your dance audition.
- Double check that you have everything you need before you arrive, including a water bottle or a thermos of hot tea (avoid sugary drinks or dairy products), a pencil, your sheet music clearly marked where your 16-32 bars begin and end, a copy of your monologue if you think you will need to look over it, and clothing to change into for dancing (if necessary).
- Arrive about 10-15 minutes early for your audition so you have time to check in and legibly fill out all necessary forms. Do not be late! Students under the age of 18 often require an adult signature on their forms, so parents or guardians should be available as needed.
- You may be seated inside the audition room with everyone else who is auditioning, or you may be taken in one at a time. Some auditions are held in the theatre, others are held in the rehearsal space or even in the conference room. Regardless of where you are auditioning and who you are in front of, your only focus should be giving the best performance you can give!
- In the audition room you will likely see a table set up where the Director, Choreographer, Music Director, Producer, Stage Manager, etc. will be sitting. These are the people you are auditioning for! They will tell you where to stand when you sing or perform your monologue, and may ask you questions or even compliment you! They might look intimidating as they take notes during your auditions and talk quietly to each other, but just remember that they are rooting for you to do well and they are so happy that you decided to audition for their production.
- When it’s your turn- take a deep breath, plant your feet, don’t fidget, enunciate your words, and project your voice! Don’t rush through your monologue or song. The director wants to hear your volume and how clearly you can speak or sing. It won't matter if you sing like a song bird if no one can hear you!
- If you are cut off before you finish your song or monologue, do not worry. Sometimes the director may hear enough of your voice within the first few lines of your song or monologue, and they may need to cut your audition short due to time constraints. After your audition you may be asked to do a cold reading and/or stay for a dance call, or you might be allowed to leave. Sometimes directors will know how they plan to use you from a 30 second audition, or you may be asked to return on another day for a call back. Never assume you are no longer being considered for a role unless the director (or someone else on the production team) specifically says so!
What Happens After the Audition
- Some directors will hold “call-backs” where they invite specific auditioners to a “second audition” of sorts. Typically, you will be called back for a specific role, and there may be several other people called back for the same role. The call back is your opportunity to learn and perform material from the show so the director can see whose abilities best fit each role. Some call backs will require that you prepare specific songs or scenes in advance, others will involve more cold readings and learning new music.
- Whoever said “the waiting is the hardest part” must have been talking about theatre! After your audition (or call back) you may have to wait several days (or even weeks) until the director announces the cast list. While you’re waiting, it’s never too early to start preparing for future auditions. Make a list or fill a notebook with audition songs you can use, or start acquiring monologues in all different styles and genres.
- If you wait and wait and finally are offered a role, do your happy dance! But if the news isn’t so good and the director is unable to use you in a specific show, do not be discouraged. I repeat- DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED! Casting decisions are made based on so many factors, and often ones that are out of your control. A performer’s height, age, schedule, or even hair color may not be what the director needs. Start looking for other upcoming auditions and practicing your cold reading and vocal skills. If you think you need help preparing for your next big audition, the Arts Center offers private audition coaching!
- No matter the outcome of your audition, pat yourself on the back because YOU DID IT! The more you audition the more experience you will gain, so keep at it. We love featuring new talent on our stage and we can’t wait to see YOU under the lights!