Let’s talk about the time before auditions. Lots of actors have their methods for preparing for an audition, so start with the basics:
- Know yourself. Without getting into the woes of an identity crisis, explore yourself as an actor and performer. If you don’t know your strengths and weaknesses, then the rest of my advice won’t help you.
- Have a pretend agent. Everyone needs a friend, family member, or confidant who will be honest and encouraging. These individuals should be able to tell you if you’re not being honest with yourself.
- Practice. I can’t say this enough (or hear it enough): practicing before your audition will relieve so much stress. Auditions are a lot like exams; cramming is possible, but it may create a lot of unnecessary anxiety that you don’t need.
Digging a little deeper into preparing for an audition, let’s cover my own personal struggle areas.
Every vocal audition I’ve had has been a little to reminiscent of “Climbing Uphill” from The Last Five Years.
To combat my anxiety, I try to play my strengths as much as possible. This goes back to point #1 (Know Yourself)
I’m a comedic belter. NOT an opera singer. Does this mean I can’t sing “Think of Me” and be great? No. It’s a free country, and practice makes possible.
Would it be the best choice for me? Probably not.
I have five songs that I keep around for auditions. Each of these shows of my vocal abilities, depending on the show and role I’m auditioning for. If I discover a new song that’s both challenging and great for me, I’ll add it in!
- “Honey Bun” from South Pacific - Great for comedy.
- “Right Hand Man” from Something Rotten - comedic and belty (my favorite!)
- “Astonishing” from Little Women - use sparingly. It’s risky.
- “Anyone Can Whistle” - for when the role calls for more of an alto vibe
- “Happy Working Song” - when the princessy, bubbly, and light-hearted role comes along
BEWARE! It’s extremely tempting to imitate the actor originally performing the songs. I’ve gotten into trouble about that. It’s natural to jump into full Sutton Foster mode or Ethel Merman (both women who kick tail in comedic belting). But BE YOURSELF. Your voice and tone are what make you unique. Challenge yourself by imitating the techniques of the greats, but don’t try to be Patti LuPone - she’s already filled that position.
If you’re auditioning and nervous about it, ask the director. Some directors prefer the vocal tone of the original performer, but it’s rare, and done with caution and reverence. The best example of this is 9 to 5: the Musical. The lead role was originally played by the magical Dolly Parton, and it’s a role that is often done with Dolly’s sparkle.
Not every role is for you, and not everyone can play Cosette. This is a good thing! If we were all designed for Cosette, who would play Eponine?! Glinda can’t be Elphaba, and Valjean can’t be Javert.
It’s okay. Let’s say it together. It’s OKAY.
No, it’s not okay. I ran out of room! I’ve got so much to say about auditions and the hard work of preparations and playing your strengths. Curious? Part II is coming soon!
Alyssa J. from Athens, Georgia