Auditioning 101 – Part 2: Getting Smart About Your Song Choice

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Learn how to improve your Auditioning Technique

Picking a song for your audition can be kind of intimidating.  Especially if you’re new to theater and don’t already have a strong repertoire of prepared literature to choose from.  How do you find a song and which song should you use?

FIRST TIME AUDITIONS

As a first timer, the artistic team wants you to feel as comfortable and confident as possible.  So, start by picking a song that you know already (or can learn quickly) that you know you can just sing out strong.  Thru iTunes, it’s easy to purchase a karaoke track for an individual song.  Try searching for a Disney song.  Those are usually good starting songs and have lots of reference recordings or YouTube videos to help in the learning process if you don’t have a vocal coach to assist you.  Here are a few things to avoid:

1.) Avoid songs from the show in which you’re auditioning.  The artistic team will use those songs at Callbacks.  Also, it can narrow the possibilities of casting for you.

2.) Avoid songs that require multiple characters (like “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” from Disney’s The Lion King).  Duets don’t allow you to really develop your presentation.  A young performer may think that the more they show, the better, but an artistic team would like to hear one character choice that’s developed.

3.) Avoid wearing a costume or relying on props to perform.  Dress nicely but show YOURSELF.

EXPERIENCED AUDITIONS

Once you’ve had at least one audition experience under your belt, you’re ready to get smarter about your audition choice.  Remember that when you’re auditioning, you are trying to advertise yourself for a role, so a little research is required prior to making your selection.  Here are some helpful steps and reminders:

1.) Read about the show.  Find some information on the internet.  In fact, you can even look up the show on the publisher’s website.  All of the Winter Shows are rented through mtishows.com.  On their site, you can read the synopsis and even listen to song samples.

2.) Read the Character Descriptions listed on your Show Callboard.  The show director has modified the character descriptions based on their vision for the show and for accommodating a larger youth cast.  Look for characters that may fit your type (physically and vocally).  Check the vocal range (if provided) to see if you meet the requirements.

Now it’s time to pick your song…

Remember that you want to ADVERTISE yourself for the show, so pick a song that is as closely related to the show as possible.

What show are YOU auditioning for?  Choose a song wisely.
What show are YOU auditioning for? Choose a song wisely.

You shouldn’t sing a song from the show itself, so…what are the next choices?

    • WHO COMPOSED THE SHOW AND WHAT OTHER SHOWS DID THEY COMPOSE?  It’s not uncommon that a composer writes with a signature style.  For instance, if you are auditioning for The Sound Of Music by Rodgers & Hammerstein, look to the R&H songbook for an audition song (Carousel, State Fair, South Pacific, etc.)  If you’re auditioning for a Disney show, look to other Disney shows for song ideas.  A quick internet search will let you know what other shows the composer has written or assisted on.  Sometimes, however, the composers have a really diverse collection which makes choosing a song from them fairly tricky (i.e. If you’re auditioning for Seussical the Musical, you’ll have a hard time finding a show appropriate song from the Flaherty & Ahrens songbook since they also collaborated on Ragtime and Once Upon An Island, three vastly different show styles).  So…then what?

 

    • WHAT IS THE SHOW TYPE?  If you’re auditioning for a period piece, try to find something similar in style.  For instance, if you’re auditioning for Bye Bye Birdie it would be smart to find a song from a musical with a 50’s rock & roll feel.  If you’re wanting a role in The Boyfriend choosing a song in a 20’s charleston style is smart.  If it’s difficult to find a show in a similar style, what is the next step?

 

    • WHAT CHARACTER or CHARACTER TYPE ARE YOU MOST INTERESTED IN? If you are wanting to advertise yourself for the Romantic Lead, you should select a Leading Man or Leading Woman (“Ingenue”) song.  Likewise if you’re wanting to be considered for the Villain or Villainess, finding a song that advertises that particular character type shows the artistic team that you made a smart choice.

 

    • What if you STILL can’t find anything?  Then, you should just sing a song that you sound good on and that you feel comfortable singing and performing.  The more experienced you become in auditioning, the easier it will be to find a smart song choice.  You may even have a vocal coach that can help you.

 

It is impressive to the artistic team when we can see clear attempts at getting smarter with song choices.  Remember, making a smart song choice does not guarantee that you’ll be considered for the role you’re interested in.  The artistic team, alone, knows the full vision of the show and understands the artistic needs.  Likewise, advertising yourself for a specific role does not disqualify you from other role considerations.  Ultimately, do your best, pray, and trust that the Lord is leading the artistic team for how they need to cast the show.

After the General Audition is complete, students will need to wait for the Callback list to be posted to their Show Callboard.  Check back in for Part 3: The Callback List Is Posted…Now What?

 

 

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