Hi all, Mike here, your resident FSTS Weekly Acting Tips Blogger! So today was auditions for our Teen Company production of Godspell and next week we have auditions for 101 Dalmatians Kids, so I figured for From Stage to Screen's first ever acting tips blog post we would start with the top 10 tips for rocking an audition. Some of these will be specific to Musical Theatre but there will be a lot of great stuff for straight theatre as well. These tips are in no particular order.
1. Come Prepared
Okay, I lied, this is the most important tip and that is why it is number 1. You would think that coming prepared for your audition would be obvious but you would be surprised how many actors miss this vital step. Come prepared means know what the director/casting agent is requiring, know what you are going to be performing, know the show you are auditioning for as best as possible. If you are not prepared the people on the other side of the table know it and it immediately paints your audition in a bad light.
2. Select Audition Material That Highlights Your Strengths and That You Connect With
So you have done your homework, you know what they are asking for and you know everything you can find about the show you are auditioning for. Great! ...Now what? Now you need to find an audition piece that fits those requirements AND shows you off in the best possible light AND that you connect to on a personal level. Is there a character in the show that requires a high belt, do you have one? Maybe you select a cut that shows that off. Is there a very comedic character in the show you think you could nail? Pick a monologue with the same style of comedy and crush it. But don't forget the second part of this tip, make sure that on some level you connect to your audition piece. Maybe you have been in a similar situation, maybe you can draw a parallel to your own life. The important thing is that your audition isn't all technical because that comes off mechanical.
3. Have a Fall Back
You should always have more than one song or monologue prepared even if the audition only asks for one. Because you never know when the director is going to ask for something else. Maybe they hear or see something that makes them consider you for a specific part, but you don't have anything that fits that particular part, now you are forcing the director to trust his gut when casting you in that role, rather then having the material to confirm his suspicions. Or maybe you and the director have completely different ideas about the show and he needs to hear something else to consider you for anything!
4. Know Who You Are Talking/Singing To
One of the most awkward situations in auditions is "where do I look?" You don't want to look at the people behind the table, because if you make eye contact with them it will probably make you more nervous and it makes the people behind the table feel obligated to make eye contact with you, which means they are not focusing on your acting, or writing anything down so that they can remember you. But if you decide before hand who you are talking to when delivering your monologue or singing your song you can place that imaginary person standing right behind where the director is sitting and you have the perfect place to focus. And you don't have to choose someone from the show, pick someone from your life. The best part is this kills two birds with one stone, having someone to sing to makes it so much easier to to act, you are no longer performing in a void, but to someone who means something to you.
5. Wear Something You Can Move In or Bring Dance Clothes
In the same way that you should always be prepared for the director to ask for more, or something else, you should also always be prepared for the surprise dance audition. SURPRISE! Now DANCE! Most of us would not be too excited by a surprise anything at an audition but the last thing you want is to be worried about your clothes while trying to react to a curve ball. If you do have to wear something restrictive, make sure to bring a change of clothes, they will always give you time to switch into more dance-able clothes.
6. Always Wear the Same Thing to Callbacks
So you got a callback, yay! What now? The first thing to do is wash whatever you wore to auditions that day, because you will be wearing it to callbacks as well. Why? When you get a callback it is because the director liked something about you. A lot of times you are auditioning for a director you've never met and they have seen a lot of people during auditions, most of the time they remember people by their outfit. "Oh the girl with the green scarf, yeah she was great". But if you come without the green scarf they are stuck looking at your headshot trying to remember who you were and why they liked you.
7. Make Choices
This is another big one. At an audition it is go big or go home. You can't just read a script or sing a song, you have to make a choice about how you are going to read it. If you make a choice one of three things can happen. One, you make the same choice the director was looking for and you are cast! Two, you make a different choice than the director was thinking, but he really likes it, and you are cast! Three, you make a different choice than the director was thinking and/or you're just not right for his vision of the role and you don't get cast. Now I know that last one doesn't sound to great but if you don't make a choice only one thing can happen: you are just like everyone else who didn't make a choice, you don't get cast.
When I was younger I auditioned for a movie reading starring Sarah Jessica Parker and the cast of Spin City, minus Michael J Fox :-( The character was a younger version of the lead and in the flashback was dealing with his father who had come home drunk. While rehearsing the side, my coach suggested a try reading the lines not as the child, but as if I was the father talking to my son. It was a big choice, one that ran against a surface reading of lines... I got the part. I was cast because I made a choice and stuck with it and refused to do what everyone else did, and I got the part!
8. Be Kind to Your Accompanist
Okay so one person has the power to make or break a musical theatre audition more than anyone else in the room. That person is your accompanist. Remember to be nice to them, if you need to indicate a tempo for them, don't clap or snap, just sing them a little piece of the song at the right tempo. If you get off the music don't give them dirty, "what are you trying to do to me" looks. And if you do need to stop and start again, just apologize and ask to start again, don't blame the accompanist.
9. Don't Make Excuses
Most people are not 100% ever in their lives. There is always something, a little cold, nerves, a situation in your life that is causing you stress. The people on the other side of the table assume you are not perfect, they don't need you to tell them, and in fact they find it annoying. Here's the thing, when you are auditioning you are not auditioning to play the part only when you feel your best, you are auditioning to play the part however you feel. Sure, you might have an understudy, but even then you are expected to perform as must as possible. So if you do a good job at your audition and your not 100% that just lets the director know you will be there for them no matter what is going on during show times.
10. Bring the Party!
When you first walk in the room, smile, be personable, let them know that you are someone that would be a lot of fun to work with. You have a second to get serious and prep yourself for your audition after slating your song or monologue.
So these are some basic audition tips, check our facebook page every Sunday for another blog post with more acting tips. Oh, and for the sake of your eyes and my fingers they won't all be this long, I promise... I hope...