With all the summer drama programs and musicals starting their audition process, I thought this would be a good time to write a little about what to prepare for an audition for a musical, especially for those singers who have never been to an audition before.
How to choose an audition piece:
Find your voice type:
Figure out what your voice part is first. In general, there are four voice types. Are you a soprano, alto, tenor or bass? Females tend to be either soprano or alto and males tend to be tenor or bass. If you do not know what voice part you are, consider singing your favorite song. Which song do you feel like you can sing really well? Look up the artist and see what voice part they are. For example, if you sing Adele really well, you are most likely an alto. Taylor Swift? Probably soprano.
Read the audition requirements:
Sometimes, the company you are auditioning for will have a list of songs that they require to be prepared for the audition. Make sure to follow their requirements if they give them to you. Be sure to prepare anything extra you will need for the audition, such as a monologue.
Pick a song (if the company doesn’t ask for a specific song):
Sometimes, however, you will be asked to sing 32 bars or 30 seconds of a song of your choosing for your audition. How do you choose the song and how do you isolate the 32 bars that will be best for the audition? First of all, find a piece that was composed during a similar time to the play you are auditioning for. Figure out when the play was written and start searching for musicals and plays that were written around the same time. In my opinion, I always avoid singing something from that specific musical or play. For example, if you are auditioning for “The Sound of Music,” find something that was written in the 1960’s or so. Or, look through some of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s other musicals and sing something written by the same composers (and in your vocal range).
Choose the excerpt of your song:
Once you have decided on your song, find the part of the song that has the most “drama” and sing to the end of that. For example, still using “The Sound of Music” as an example, if I were to pick something like “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy” from South Pacific, I would make sure to include:
I would then count back 32 bars (or whatever the audition requirements are) and see where would be the closest place to those 32 bars to start. Usually it will be the beginning of a new phrase like this:
As you see in this example, the excerpt you would be singing would be slightly less than 32 bars, however, the excerpt is self-contained.
Practice your audition piece:
After you have picked the piece to sing for the audition, be sure to practice it efficiently. Be sure that you can sing it a cappella (singing it without any instruments or recordings in the background). If you can, polishing up the piece with a vocal coach or voice teacher is ideal.
What to bring to the audition:
Bring the sheet music you are planning on singing. You will need to have it memorized, so you can’t use the sheet music as you audition, but if there is an accompanist at the audition, they will need the sheet music to play the piano part while you sing.
If you have a headshot or a music resume, bring both of those as well.
When you arrive:
At the audition, you will most likely be asked to fill out an audition form. There will be questions on there such as “What role are you auditioning for?” and “What is your vocal range?” If you don’t know your specific vocal range, just put in your voice part. As for the roles you are auditioning for, be sure that they match your vocal part.
When you go on stage to audition:
When you go in to the audition, give your piece to the accompanist and sing a little bit to them so they know what tempo to play for you. Make sure they know where you would like to start and end the piece.
Introducing your piece:
After you have talked to the accompanist, stand center stage and address the people listening to your audition. You should introduce yourself like this:
“Hi, my name is ______________. I will be singing ‘I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy’ from South Pacific”
“Hi, my name is ______________. I will be singing ‘I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy’ by Rodgers and Hammerstein.”
After you have introduced yourself, look at the ground and keep your head lowered until you are ready to sing. Once you are ready to sing, look up. The accompanist will know to begin playing for you.
Stay in character, stare down the judges, enjoy the audition! Do your best to tell the story of your piece. As you are singing, be sure to keep the character and the emotion of what you are singing the focus of your audition. Companies look for good singers, but more importantly, good actors who can tell a story.
Finishing your audition:
After you have sung, stay in character and wait until the accompanist has finished playing. When they are finished, say “thank you” to the people listening to your audition. Wait for them to say something, and if they don’t, you may leave the stage and audition.
Information you need after the audition:
Make sure to find out when they will ask for callbacks and when they will post the cast list. Do not ask the people listening to your audition! Usually this information will be written down or will be given to you at the beginning of the audition.