Every artist knows that an audition can be an enjoyable, uplifting experience – or a complete trainwreck! What should you wear? What impression should you give? Friendly? Too friendly? Confident? Too confident? Which song to sing or play? Who are these people anyway? Will they like me? Will they enjoy the genre I have chosen? How much is too much, or not enough, on a resume? Here are a few steps to make your next audition a successful one, or at least, allow you to leave knowing that you have given your best on that particular day. And let’s remember the old saying – “Everything is just the opinion of one person, or one panel, on one day! Tomorrow could be another story, with a totally different ending.” Never be dismayed if you don’t get the part!
If you are auditioning for a theatre show, the company will likely advise whether or not they would like to hear a piece from the actual musical to be performed. They may even set a piece, or give examples, and they will – almost without exception – define the vocal type and character/age/personality that they are seeking. If they do not, my advice is to choose a stylistically similar, but less often performed piece, that allows you to demonstrate your ability to play and sing the type of role – and music – for which you are auditioning. What they want to see is that you can play that role, and sing the songs, preferably with your own fresh angle on them. From that point, they determine whether you are able to adapt to, and expand upon, a character and songs. They may not run with it, but it proves that you have taken the time to research the script, opera, or musical, and considered how you would approach that role. If you’re auditioning for a performance at an event, apply the same principle. Reseach the organisation, the event, and the type of audience it will attract. This will assist you to choose a more suitable piece. You can never really be over prepared. You can be over rehearsed and stale, but that is less common.
2. Know Your Song
It is always better to go to an audition with a thoroughly rehearsed piece, confident that you know it very well. Never turn up, in the hope of impressing the panel, with an elaborate and complicated piece that is under rehearsed, out of your vocal range, or beyond your capabilities. It will herald a disaster because there is absolutely no way you can give your best, and knowing that this will lead to performance anxiety will undermine your confidence in every area of your audition. If you are auditioning for a musical theatre role, and there is a libretto, practise reading from it. Practise reading from it in an open space where you can stretch out and deliver your character to the fullest. If possible, do this in front of a mirror as well so that you can watch your expressions and movement to see if it is effective. Remember the rules of movement. It must be in character, it should be natural, it should have a purpose, and if you are singing while moving, it must be in time to the music. Please make a point of recording yourself. You will be amazed at the little revelations of a recording! Choose a song that suits your voice, and is in the correct key for you!
3. Seek Advice
If you’re inexperienced, or even if you’re not, don’t be afraid to seek advice, or an opinion, from someone with more experience. Often, another set of ears or eyes will pick up something you have missed. Remember that you are very close to your work. Consult a mentor, and choose wisely when you do.
4. The Libretto
If you are practising some lines from the Libretto, don’t try to remember them all. Concentrate, instead, on character development. On the day, you will have the script to read anyway. However, if you are presented with an audition script, know it well, and be able to be flexible with the way you present it. You may be asked to present it in several different ways at the audition.
5. Imperfect Potential
The panel are looking for imperfect potential that can be moulded to their ideas. They are not looking for rigidity!
6. Dressed to Kill!
Even if you are not auditioning for Sweeney Todd, please dress to kill! Sometimes, you will be asked to simply wear black, and given no choice in the matter. However, it is a good approach to always present fairly naturally in smart casual with some attention to grooming, hair, and make up, if desired. A good Director doesn’t care and will look beyond your everyday appearance, but it demonstrates respect for the audition panel, and for yourself. If there is no mention, dress as yourself in smart casual style, comfortably for the climate and time of day. If it helps your confidence, you may wish to pick a look that is somehow related to the part for which you are auditioning. For example, a colourful maxi skirt and peasant style top if you are auditioning for the role of Carmen. Just remember, though, that the musicals and Operas are often now set in completely modern, different, even obscure, settings. It is always best to just be yourself while wearing something that is not only comfortable but also helps you to feel good about your appearance. Dressing for audition is basically common sense.
Assuming now that:
You know your song.
You have studied your character and the opera/musical/event.
You have listened to your song on recording and, if you deem necessary, consulted a mentor.
Let’s talk about
Making a Good Impression!
ALWAYS BE PROFESSIONAL.
From the onset, be courteous, and professional in your approach, right through from booking your audition time to completion of the audition.
Be punctual. Arriving late is disrespectful. If something happens, CALL.
Don’t think about whether or not you will be successful, but view the audition as an opportunity to meet and engage with like-minded people.
Smile. Acknowledge the panel. ALL of the panel.
Be friendly, open and keen, but do not be gushing and garrulous.
Don’t allow yourself to appear needy or desparate to get the role. Think about your character and/or your song, and be confident.
The panel want to know if you are willing to take direction. If you appear over confident, or give them an entire eulogy about every performance in your past, there is the possibility that they may perceive you as difficult. BALANCE CONFIDENCE WITH HUMILITY!
Don’t be afraid to have a conversation, but keep it short. Remember that they may have seen a great many people before you, and still have a long list to follow. Asking a few pertinent questions about the project shows that you’re interested to hear their perspective, but offering up your own opinions is a definite mistake.
Lastly, remember that you are also auditioning the panel. If you feel that the event/musical/opera is not something with which you would like to be involved, very politely decline any offers you may receive. If you are asked to sing out of your range, and/or risk damage to your voice, politely decline. If you have only time for chorus or a Cameo role, and are offered the lead, unless you can make time, politely decline. You will run the risk of not pulling it off, and ruining your reputation. The performance world is a very small one.