As we anticipate the opening of The Odd Couple on September 30th, I decided to take a look back at the history of the show, the films, and the many careers launched by portrayals of the iconic characters "Felix" and "Oscar". I was surprised at some of the names that were on the list... and I think you will be, too! 

(Take notes, the information below will be helpful for Broadway trivia and to impress your friends!)

Neil Simon was already a relatively well known playwright when The Odd Couple premiered on Broadway in 1965, thanks to the success of his 1963 show Barefoot in the Park. When Simon won a Tony award for The Odd Couple he became known as the "hottest new playwright on Broadway" and his career continued to prosper as he launched dozens of treasured shows including They're Playing Our Song, I Ought to Be In Pictures, The Goodbye Girl, Brighton Beach MemoirsJake's Women, and many more. To this day he has received more combined Tony and Oscar nominations than any other writer. 

Without discounting the work that Simon has done, one must recognize that the wide success of his shows can also be contributed to his talented casts, often featuring unknown actors who would later jump to international fame. With well-written, tangible characters that seem to jump off the page, Simon's roles are coveted by actors around the world! Infact, did you know...

When The Odd Couple premiered on Broadway in 1965 it starred Walter Matthau and Art Carney, and scored a Best Actor Tony Award for Matthau. ( Matthau also went on to reprise his role in both Odd Couple films, alongside Jack Lemmon). 

After a successful year and a half run on Broadway, The Odd Couple was revived in 1970 starring two unknown actors who are household names today- Martin Short and Eugene Levy! They wouldn't be the last stars to take on the roles of Felix and Oscar, however. Over the next forty years these parts were performed by Gerard Kelly, Craig Ferguson, Pat Sajak, Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Ethan Hawke and Billy Crudup, just to name a few! 

The Odd Couple went on to inspire a female version, written by Simon, as well as multiple TV-Sitcom spin-offs,including the 2015 adaptation starring Friends star Matthew Perry alongside Thomas Lennon.  

So now, with over FIFTY years of successful runs, we at The Arts Center are excited to have this hilarious, iconic show live on our stage! Directed by Mary Wilson and starring Matt Smith and Ted Verbeten, perhaps this rendition will further launch the careers of all of the incredible local talent involved! 

Well, now you know the abridged history of the production, so don't miss you chance to see it for yourself! Neil Simon's The Odd Couple runs September 30 - October 15, 2016. Tickets are $13 for Adults, $11 for Seniors & Students, and $10 for paid groups of ten or more. For tickets call (615) 563-2787 or click here

We look forward to seeing you at the show!

Many of you might be wondering, what is the Reverse Raffle Fundraiser that is taking place at The Arts Center on July 30? Is it true that one person in attendance will win $5000? What’s the catch?

Truth is- there is no catch! Our annual Reverse Raffle Fundraiser is an evening of fun, laughter, and camaraderie to support the arts and one lucky attendee will walk away with the grand prize- five thousand bucks! Best part is, there is no skill involved to win!

As you may or may not know, the Arts Center is a not-for-profit community owned venue. The facility itself is maintained and sustained by and for the people of Middle Tennessee. Our staff work for modest wages to provide this unique outlet which includes a theater, gallery, craft shop, conservatory, exhibition hall. Throughout the year, volunteers direct, produce, act, sing, dance, perform, play, exhibit, learn, and craft together in our 27 year young 18,000 square foot building.

Once each year we hold a fundraiser.  This year the event will be held on Saturday, July 30 and your attendance is requested.

The Reverse Raffle is an opportunity to support the Arts Center financially while enjoying a great dinner and a chance to win $5000! At the end of an evening of games and drawings on stage in the Wilma Adams Theater – the last person still holding a raffle ticket goes home with $5000. Sounds easy, right? Best part is, if your number is drawn (eliminating you from winning the grand prize) there are opportunities to buy back in! Throughout the night you might also see other items you are interested in winning, and there are several chances to bid on Auction Baskets donated by local business and board members. (Last year we had Journey Tickets, an Autographed Steelers Helmet, an evening at The Cannon Inn, and much more!)

Event tickets are $75 each and included dinner, entertainment, and an entry into the Reverse Raffle. They are available online, by phone, or in person at the Arts Center, Tuesday-Saturday 10am-4pm. Want to enter but can’t attend? Purchase a ticket and your number will still be included in the raffle- we will notify you if you win! That's all there is to it!

The Event begins with dinner promptly at 6pm. The on stage Raffle begins at 7pm. We hope you will join us for this special evening benefitting The Arts Center of Cannon County!

The 2015 winners were Marcia and Gerald Melton who purchased tickets to support a great cause – Cannon County Reads through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. 

What would you do if YOU won $5000? 


With so many weekend options including movies, concerts, theatrical shows, escape games of sorts, etc, I have spent some time thinking about why community theatre is important and the reasons people should (and do) support it. Drawing from my own experiences, I believe volunteer theatre is a valuable resource in our communities for performers, crew members, sponsors, and audience members alike.

I was barely six years old when my mom took me to audition for a production of Peter Cottontail with a local children’s group, and after being cast as the lead in my debut performance I was hooked. While I dabbled in sports and other recreational activities, I focused mainly on theatre and performing and booked my first professional production at the age of eighteen. Over the next six years I traveled the country living the dream- making a living as a performer! But something was missing, and I started to realize that there was a difference acting on stage as a job vs. a hobby. While I still loved to perform, I yearned for the heart and sense of camaraderie I had always found in community theatre.

So what made community vs. professional so different? And why is community theatre so important to me, and so many others? Here are some examples:

Encourage New Talent

Many successful actors, directors, writers, and choreographers have launched their careers in humble, small town playhouses. (Did you know Country music artist Chris Young and American Idol alum Colton Dixon both performed in Arts Center productions, just to name a few?) By sponsoring shows and attending performances, you are not only supporting an important arts outlet but also providing encouragement to the cast and crew.

Provide Opportunities for Young Artists

As I stated above, I walked into an audition as an average six year old and closed my first show feeling like a superstar! I have already written a blog focusing on why the arts are important for children (click here to read it!) so I won’t spend too much time on the subject, but I will say that I have seen theatre open up a world of new opportunities for children. While physical size and abilities sometimes hinder kids in sports and school activities, the world of community theatre provides a safe place for even the shyest or quirkiest of students. As a director, I have witnessed young children sobbing out of stage fright at their first audition who go on to steal the show, and the “outsider” who may have been rejected by his peers become the center of attention. There’s something about community theatre that accepts everyone and I treasure the wide variety of people I have met and the children I have had the opportunity to mentor.

Create a Need for Special Skills

Not everyone can stand center stage and belt out “Tomorrow” from Annie, and just as many of us don’t dare pick up a hammer and nail! Community theatre requires so many different skill sets, that virtually anyone can find a place they are needed. Your skill might be painting a backdrop, building a set piece, sewing a costume, holding a spotlight, working backstage, or even shopping for props! In one of the most recent shows I performed in, we even used an “illusionist” to teach the cast and crew magic tricks that could be used in the show! By supporting community theatre, you give your brother, mother, next door neighbor, Sunday school teacher, veterinarian, and janitor an opportunity to volunteer their time and skills.

Local Business Supports Local Business

The Arts Center, like many community theatre groups, is a non-profit organization and requires the support of local business to financially back shows and events. Sponsors not only help grow recognition of their own brand by including their logos on programs, marketing materials, websites, etc, but also keep the arts going in the community. Sponsorship isn’t expensive and community theatres can, in return, help their local business reach hundreds of potential customers through ads and sponsor recognition.

Just to name a few…

I could go on and on about reasons why everyone should support their local community theatre, but I hope you are coming up with your own ideas of how your ticket purchase, skill set, or sponsorship can benefit so many people.

Although our lives have all become very busy as of late, when you find yourself with a free Saturday night, consider attending a show put on by your local community theatre. I think you will be surprised to discover the incredible talent performing on our Middle Tennessee stages thanks to the support of patrons like YOU.  


Although it’s only the end of March, can you believe we are already planning for our 2017 season of shows?! With so many variables and things to consider, building a performance season is an ongoing process, and we would like to give you the opportunity to suggest what YOU would like to see on our stage. After reading the post below you will have a chance to fill out a form and help us as we plan for the year ahead!

So what goes into choosing the season, anyway?

There are so many factors that are taken into consideration when planning a season of productions, including when the show was last performed in the area, the type or size of cast required, the month the show will be performed, who will direct, what sort of content is involved, what the set or props will require, how much the royalties cost, etc.  We work hard to plan a season that not only fits in the Arts Centers schedule, but that fits with the schedules of the volunteers who will be working to put on the show and the audience members who will be attending.  

Who chooses the shows?

The Arts Center staff works together to plan the season, along with suggestions from directors, producers and board members. A large number of shows are suggested and then narrowed down as they are discussed. The discussion may include questions like, has this show been performed at the Arts Center before? If so, when and what was attendance like? What sort of audience do we expect will want to see this show?  Has another theatre in the area recently performed this show, or do they plan to in the near future? Are the rights currently available to community theatres, and if not, will they be available soon?

Does it cost money to put on a show?

Yes! And what many people don’t realize is that nearly every show has royalty fees that are determined based on the size of the theatre, the number of shows being performed, how new the show is, etc. Rates vary tremendously and while some older or lesser known plays are offered for minimal prices, many larger scale musicals cost thousands of dollars to perform. And that’s just to pay for the rights to the show! After the royalties are secured, money goes into the set, costumes, props, marketing, etc.

Can audience members make suggestions for upcoming performances?

Yes you can! We would love to hear your suggestions for what you would like to see on the Arts Center stage, and why. By clicking the link below you can anonymously fill out a suggestion form!  

Submit your comments here!


As the weather grows warmer and you start thinking about summer time, I encourage you to consider enrolling your child in our Summer Conservatory Program! Each two week session teaches students performance skills that also translate into valuable life skills, through engaging activities and team building exercises. Curious how the arts can benefit your child? Read below!


Students who learn music, acting, and dance are building memorization skills that can help them in school and beyond. Additionally, students develop pattern recognition skills when singing and dancing that can help them excel in math and other subjects.

Having an appreciation for the arts strengthens and builds imagination. In fact, incorporating music and performing in childhood years can help students foster a positive attitude towards learning and curiosity.

Kids who study the arts can learn to think more creatively! Art education can help students solve problems by thinking outside the box and realizing that there may be more than one right answer.    

Students learn to recognize and practice proper diction and enunciation when performing, which can encourage correction of minor speech impediments and teach students to control their volume levels. Reading skills are also often strengthened.

Did you know students who practice music score higher on the SAT? In fact, one report indicates students who study music appreciation score 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on math!


While dancing and performing, students are encouraged to be active in ways that build coordination and concentration through exciting step combinations and stage directions.

Students studying performance learn to contort their bodies to mimic different animals, characters, people, and objects. This strengthens observations skills and body awareness while helping students figure out how to use their own individual size and shape to their advantage.

Through dance and creative movement, students develop a greater range of movement while learning the ability to use their bodies effectively in different spaces.

Dance is a fun, engaging way for students to develop strength and endurance from an early age. This creates a solid platform for the child’s physical development and level of fitness and encourages them to be healthy and active in their everyday lives.

Students who study acting practice physical displays of confidence, such as entering a room with poise and presence, and actively listening and maintaining eye contact when conversing with peers and elders.


Studies have shown that students who study music and performance can be more emotionally developed than students who do not. This emotional growth allows them to have higher self-esteem and cope better with anxiety.

Music, dance, and acting have therapeutic qualities that allow students to fight stress and relax. While performing can trigger fear and anxiety in some students, overcoming nerves further builds confidence and offers a sense of accomplishment.  

Teamwork is a big part of performance-based activities, and students who participate learn to work together and build camaraderie amongst groups.

Acting is a great way for kids to get in touch with their own feelings, while providing an outlet for a wide-array of emotions. 

Kids who learn performance skills learn a valuable lesson in discipline when setting aside practice time that is essential for memorizing lines and rehearsing songs or dance steps. Additionally, an enjoyable subject such as music or dance can teach students to be more interested in class, which may help overall focus in classroom settings and a desire to excel in all subjects.


All of these points are, of course, just a few of the ways kids (and adults!) can benefit from participation in performance related activities, and everyone’s personal growth will be different. In my own experience, one of the greatest things I learned through performing was how to collaborate and build friendships with kids and adults of all ages and from many diverse backgrounds. I am so thankful that Summer Conservatory provides an important outlet for kids during the summer months!

For more information on our Summer Conservatory program or to get your child signed up, click here or call (615) 563-2787.  

Thanks to the following websites for research information used in this blog post-




Welcome our Museum Intern, Anderson Dodd! Anderson is an Art History major at MTSU and shares some important information in his blog post about viewing and appreciating art, no matter what it is. Also included is information about the upcoming opening of the Southern Self-Taught Artist exhibit which Anderson curated here at the Arts Center. 

Guest Blog by Anderson Dodd 

I have something to admit to all of you. I used to get really frustrated by art. I didn’t understand why something like a piece of gum was art, or why I had to like it. There were times, when I was looking at a piece that I just wanted to look at the curator and ask, “Why is this art?” That was until someone told me that I needed to stop seeing art, and start looking at art. At first I thought they were just being hoity-toity, but then I realized that they were right. I needed to stop going to see art and start going to look at it. 

Art is meant to be looked at critically and really enjoying works of art comes out of having a dialogue with pieces that goes beyond just aesthetics. I know this sounds complicated, but don’t worry!  It is not as complicated as it sounds.

Below are some helpful tips and questions to ask your self when looking at art that you find frustrating. These are just suggestions and you don’t have to think deeply on them. They are just there to help you open up a dialogue with a piece of art, slow down snap judgements, and start looking at art rather than just seeing it.  Just a few moments can lead into some insight and you may end up enjoying a piece you disliked to begin with!

1)    Enjoyable art is not always pretty. It is perfectly okay to enjoy art that you consider pretty, but art is a form of human expression and existence. It taps into all of our emotions. Art can be happy, sad, scary, exciting, etc. Works of art give us a rare chance to see the world through someone else's eyes and help us reexamine and rediscover the world around us.

2)    Ask yourself, “What am I looking at?” If you don’t know or can’t tell, ask questions like, Do I like this piece of art? What about it do I like? What about it do I not like?  Try to find something positive and something negative.

3)    Next ask, “How does this painting make me feel and why?” For example, if a work looks “weird” to you, ask yourself, “What about it makes me feel this way?” It could be the colors or the shapes, the subject, or the way the subject has been portrayed.  The question “Why?” is one of the most powerful tools we have.

4)    It is also helpful to read the labels. Many of the artists painted personal subjects, and reading the labels can help you understand what is going on or help explain why you may or may not like the piece. At the bottom of some of the labels you’ll see “Think About It” suggestions which may help you appreciate the piece.

5) The most important rule of all is: Have fun and Explore!

Ready to put this to the test? Come out and join us March 18, 2016 at 6:30 PM in Cannon Hall for the opening reception of Southern Self-Taught Artists. This new exhibit, on display in Cannon Hall until June 30th 2016 will feature highlights from the Caldwell Collection.

Want to bring your kids to the museum? Great! The concepts above are pretty complicated for kids to understand so we have developed Kids Cards. These interactive printable worksheets are meant to help children understand the art, while at the same time flex their own creative muscles. You will be able to find them at the Art Center’s website after the opening. 

Memphis the Musical opens this weekend, and in honor of the production I am excited to welcome to the blog special guest, Melinda Paul! Melinda stars in Memphis as singing soul-stress Felicia Farrell who steals the heart of disc jockey, Huey Calhoun. Read as Melinda describes the timeless musical that you don't want to miss! 

Brittany: Hi Melinda, thank you so much for giving me your time! Can you tell our readers about yourself and your background in theatre?

Melinda: Sure! I’m a Nashville transplant by way of Maryland. I’m actually currently halfway through medical school (taking a year or two off to do research), but I couldn’t let go of my love of theater – so here I am! My elementary school’s productions were where it all started for me – I have distinct memories of playing a fox and a jester (Tony Award-worthy roles, of course) – and I dabbled in a few shows in middle school and high school. It wasn’t until college that I really sunk my teeth into theater, though – I majored in Theater Studies at Yale University, and got to act, direct, play and create with some truly humbling artists. I took some time off after college to work in DC and become a firefighter (crazy, I know), and then came to Nashville three years ago to start medical school. This is my third show in the Nashville area since being here, and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with this community.

Brittany: Tell us about your role as Felicia Farrell in Memphis.

Melinda: In short, Felicia Farrell is a black soul singer who gets noticed by a white DJ, Huey Calhoun, when he ventures underground into her brother’s Beale Street juke joint. They share a mutual love for the music that is as forbidden in the mainstream as is their growing love for one another, and the show follows their desires – both individually, and together – to be heard in a culturally and musically white-washed world. Felicia’s voice speaks for so many, both from the 1950s and now, and I feel so honored to get to tell her story.

Brittany: For people who don’t know the story of Memphis, what can you tell them?

Melinda: The story is in the music, really. In a time of tremendous segregation, Memphis speaks of those who tried to bridge social divides with a language that transcends color, culture and creed. Of course, there’s love and drama and choreographed dances involved – but at the heart of the show is a glimpse into the reality of a world that insists on coloring inside the lines, so to speak, and the hope we have in our ability to move beyond that kind of constrictive mentality.

Brittany: What is your favorite moment or song in the show? No spoilers please!

Melinda: I’m a sucker for jazz and big band music, so the brassy dance breaks may be my favorites…is that lame? Of course, I’m also partial to some of the more heart-tugging musical moments, but you said no spoilers so I’ll leave it at that. This show is packed with fantastic music though – I’d come for the band alone!

Brittany: What has been the best part of working on this production?

Melinda: The people. Cliché, but true. Darryl, Robert, Regina, Susan, Tabby, Scarlett, the incredible Michael Adcock and the amazing cast and crew and musicians I get to have fun with every day (I feel like I’m giving an acceptance speech…) – they’ve honestly made this entire thing a joy.

Brittany: What would you tell people who have not purchased their tickets yet?

Melinda: Click here! Do it now.

Brittany: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Melinda:Art is such an amazingly powerful vehicle for storytelling and change – so thank you, for supporting live theater and for listening to our story!

Brittany: Thank you so much, Melinda! And to our readers, for a 60 second preview of Melinda, Michael, and the rest of the cast members performing songs from the show, watch the promotional video

Memphis runs March 11-26 at the Arts Center of Cannon County. The show is rated PG for some adult language and content. 

You recognize the name, you’ve been to the city, but do you know the Tony Award Winning Musical? In honor of Memphis the Musical opening in just one week, on March 11, here is everything you need to know about the show and why you must see it live at the Arts Center of Cannon County!

Memphis is a musical by David Bryan (best known as the keyboard player from Bon Jovi) and Joe DiPietro (writer of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change & All Shook Up), based loosely on the life of Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips. Phillips, known as a pioneer of early rock-and-roll, was one of the first white DJs to play black music in the 1950s.

Memphis tells the fictional story of Huey Calhoun, a young white disc jockey with a passion for R&B music, who falls for an up-and-coming black singer named Felicia Farrell. Despite the objections of their loved ones, the two embark on a dangerous affair. But as their careers rise, the relationship is challenged by personal ambition and the pressures of an outside world unable to accept their love. Memphis is set in the places where rock-and-roll was born in the 1950s- the seedy nightclubs, radio stations and recording studios of the musically-rich Tennessee city. The show is rated PG for some adult language and content.

Memphis was met with rave reviews when it opened on Broadway in 2009, and went on to win four Tony Awards in 2010, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. A film of the live show was released in 2012, starring many members of the original Broadway cast. The words “exuberant, exciting, and rambunctious” are often found in reviews for the show, highlighting the catchy songs and rousing dance numbers. Although Memphis stays true to its Tennessee roots and the heart of rock-and-roll, the show has been performed all over the world including professional stagings in Japan and England.  

The Arts Center of Cannon County’s production of Memphis stars Nashville performers Michael Adcock as Huey Calhoun and Melinda Paul as Felicia Farrell, and features many familiar faces to the ACCC stage including Michael McGee, Phil Mote, Zavior Phillips, Bill White, and Laurie Burger. Director Darryl Deason recently brought several sell-out shows to the Arts Center stage including Disney’s Tarzan and Shrek the Musical. He is assisted by the talented Robert Heirs (Music Director), Regina Wilkerson Ward (Choreographer), Tabby Ragland and Susan Walsworth (Producers) and Drew and Christy Sanford (Lighting/Sound Design and Stage Manager).  Memphis also includes a live, seven piece band.

Featuring over twenty original songs, high-energy dance numbers, fifties-era costumes, and an elaborate set that will take you back in time, Memphis the Musical is not to be missed! The show runs March 11-26, with Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30pm and Sunday matinees at 2:00pm. Tickets are $15 for Adults and $13 for Students & Seniors. Groups of ten or more can be accommodated and receive a group rate of $12 when paid in advance. Call (615) 563-ARTS or click here to purchase your tickets today!

As we are approaching the kick-off of our 2016 season, and welcoming new volunteers, I thought it would be fun to hear from one of our veteran volunteers- Tylee Nistad! Tylee has been involved at the Arts Center for over ten years and has graciously offered her time at many different shows and events over the last decade.

Read what Tylee has to say about her time at the Arts Center, and why she encourages everyone to get involved, no matter their age or skill set!

Brittany: Hello, Ty! Tell us a little about yourself! Do you have a background in theatre?

Tylee: I am adopted from China, but Cannon County has been my home since I can remember. I grew up kind of isolated on a farm, so I had a lot of imaginary friends and just generally talked to myself a lot. I would put on elaborate performances for the cows and thus my acting career was born. When I got old enough, my parents enrolled me in the Arts Center’s summer conservatory program and that’s where I got my dose of human interaction and my roots in theatre. :)

Brittany: How long have you been volunteering at the Arts Center?

Tylee: I’ve been involved at the Arts Center in some way my entire life. I went to Conservatory when I was little and then grew up to be in some different plays once in a while. It wasn’t until my freshman year in high school that I found my calling as a consistent volunteer at the Arts Center.

Brittany: In what ways are you involved?

Tylee: I usually run the lights for plays. I found that being on stage was not my forte and got the chance to run lights for a play my mom was in and I ran with it from there. I have also been a part of the set crew, putting up and taking down sets for plays. I’ve even stood in for people during rehearsals, which is not always an easy thing to do. The Arts Center is more than just plays though. I’ve also helped work our Reverse Raffle and the White Oak Craft Fair. My favorite volunteer opportunity is Junior Conservatory. It is two weeks with kids aged six to eleven teaching acting, music, and dance. At the end we put on a play and it’s the best thing to watch the kids grow and perform.

Brittany: What’s your favorite part about volunteering?

Tylee: The sense of community that comes from volunteering and being a part of the Arts Center is the best. Watching kids come back to the Arts Center because they loved Conservatory so much and want to be in plays is really rewarding.

Brittany: What would you say to someone who is interested in getting involved?

Tylee: It doesn’t matter if you can’t act or sing or hammer a nail. There is always something to do at the Arts Center and as long as you’re willing to try you will be welcome. I am the worst artist in the history of mankind and they had me painting very important parts of a set one time, like it was a focal point all would see. But I did my best and everyone learned not to let Tylee have a paintbrush anymore. LOL

Brittany: How has volunteering at The Arts Center affected you in a positive way?

Tylee: If I hadn’t volunteered at the Arts Center I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I’ve made so many friends and had so many good times at the Arts Center and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. It’s a really positive place to be and work.

Brittany: Finally, just for fun… do you have any volunteer stories you would like to share?

Tylee: There are so many weird theatre stories it's hard to pick just one. I guess one of my favorite things to tell people is when I was in Fiddler on the Roof there was a group of us kids that got really close and we had our own Fiddler Reunions two years in a row it seems like. We all had a blast and we didn’t want that to end. I’m still friends with that group six years later.

So you want to audition for a show! Now what?

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!